Bringing the outside in

Entertainment has always played a big roll in a high-end home, even more so since the pandemic has hit and we cannot enjoy entertainment in public like we used to. Amy Wallington looks into two entertainment systems for the very high-end home.

This time last year, we were blissfully unaware of what was around the corner – a global pandemic which would ‘temporarily’ close down most of the world. Between various lockdowns across the globe, certain areas of ‘normal life’ have been able to restart, although many of which soon had to close again to follow the ever-changing guidelines. Almost a year on, we continue our fight against the virus.

One area that has probably suffered the most throughout this time is live events and entertainment. Unlike pubs, restaurants and shops which have been able to open on and off throughout the year, the entertainment industry has had to remain closed completely.

However, looking at it in a more positive light, the pandemic is encouraging people to spend more money on their homes and one of the biggest areas seeing investment is home entertainment. Whether that’s gaming, cinema, audio upgrades, or a gym, this is certainly an area that is experiencing a boost.

Train on a specific route without having to physically go there (Photo: Immersive Gyms)

Luxury leisure and entertainment companies are recognising this trend and are teaming up with integrators to install their systems into people’s high-end homes. L-Acoustics and Immersive Gyms are just two companies doing this.

“People’s home entertainment requirements have undoubtedly changed due to the pandemic,” says Nick Fichte, business manager at L-Acoustics Creations. “Wealthy individuals used to travel a lot and never really made full use of the systems that they had installed in their properties. Now that they have been forced to stay home, they have realised that whilst a pair of in-ceiling speakers in the kitchen may be okay for listening to the radio over breakfast, when they want to turn it up or play with some DJ software, that doesn’t necessarily give them the experience that they want, but we can help with that.”

L-Acoustics Creations was born as a way to deliver revolutionary sound systems to the home that can recreate live concert sound. “We noticed that as more people ‘consumed’ music streaming at low resolution, attendance at live concerts and festivals surged worldwide,” he continues. “It was clear that people wanted to experience those same ‘goosebump’ moments that you get at a live event at home, and in fact, many sound professionals who had special access to L-Acoustics’ concert technology as end users had already adopted our systems for home use.”

L-Acoustics Creations Tahiti 2.1 installation in white integrated with DJ deck in private residence in Miami, Florida, USA – Integration by Unreal-Systems of Miami (Photo: Unreal-Systems)

Designed as turnkey packages for homes on land or sea, L-Acoustics Creations’ sound systems are collectively known as Archipel. The idea of these systems is to deliver the same level of performance as a mixing desk at venues with full concert-like dynamics.

“It was clear that people wanted to experience those same “goosebump” moments that you get at a live event at home.”

Fichte adds: “105 dB is the reference for this, but all systems will happily perform at over 117 dB for that extra thump at a party. We can also design bespoke sound systems, and this has been incredibly popular for people who want to recreate a nightclub experience in their home.”

Recognising this, the company has trained home technology professionals around the world to design, specify, install and commission these products into their client’s homes. More than that, the company is also teaming up with home automation providers to integrate the system into whole-home control.

L-Acoustics Creations Tahiti 2.1 installation on display at Huf Haus UK (photo: Maria Zyhtnikova)

Escape home

As the stay at home orders are mostly still in place around the world and have been for almost a year, many of us are itching to get out and explore or exercise. A fairly new luxury experience for high-end homes can help. “We’re all about content and experience through the technology,” says Charles Pearce, founder of Immersive Gyms.

Taking the home gym, cinema, and gaming experience to a new level, Immersive Gyms combines the three all in one room to give homeowners a fully immersive multiuse space. Primarily a workout room, the solution can be completely tailored to the user’s needs and space available. With over 150,000 providers of digital content for fitness, homeowners can have the ultimate gym experience without leaving the house.

Theo Rigden, product design lead at Immersive Gyms explains the tech behind the system: “We have a big server box which usually lives in the plant room to maximise this space, and that connects to a user interface in the gym room. The user interface is completely personalised to each user and displays their favourite options, which could be a fitness class with a remote personal trainer, a Peloton ride, a yoga class or used for movie watching and gaming.

It is easy to attend a fitness class or a PT session virtually with Immersive Gyms and added cameras can show them what you’re doing (Photo: Immersive Gyms)

“The width of the room needs to be four and a half metres at minimum to comfortably use the space, but it can go up to 10 to 12 metres if the room allows. The brand of AV required is completely down to the user’s preference. You could have three, four of five projectors in the ceiling projecting on the three walls around you depending on the size of the room, or you could use a large screen such as Samsung’s The Wall. All the content that we film can scale to different sizes to accurately fit each room. It’s the same with speakers, it’s all up to what the user wants in their room.”

The software can also be integrated into home automation systems such as Crestron, to enable the user to select certain scenes depending on how the room is being used.

Cameras can be used around the room for multiple reasons. Firstly, it can turn the walls into digital mirrors so that you can see what you’re doing, but also, if you have a session with a personal trainer, they can see your positioning and give you feedback as to whether you’re doing it right or not. The programme can also give feedback on positioning and form to help train correctly.

The idea of Immersive Gyms is to allow the user to escape to anywhere in the world and really feel like they are there. Whether someone wants to run or cycle [the length of the UK] from Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) or row along [River Thames-side town] Henley-on-Thames, Immersive Gyms is able to go and film that so that when you are doing that particular activity, it is as if you’re really there doing it with the footage projected on the walls around you at around a 220-degree field of view. The footage responds to your performance; you can connect it to the bike or treadmill or rowing machine and it will take into account the gradient and the speed you’re travelling at, so the faster you run, cycle or row, the faster the content moves, but in a natural way rather than a ‘sped up video’ way.

Realistic rowing (Photo: Immersive Gyms)

Pearce adds: “It doesn’t have to be training exercise, it could be walking through your favourite place in the world. One of the applications we can use this for is in later living homes where you’ve got people who can no longer get out. But they are able to go into the gym and go for a gentle walk through a wood or forest or whatever it might be.”

The flexibility of the software and the room itself also allows this to be used as an immersive gaming room and can even have a car or plane simulator connected, as well as a home cinema application.

Entertainment in the home is certainly changing and the pandemic has only increased this development. Having a multipurpose space rather than a room dedicated to one thing is something many are investing in. Pearce continues: “One of the key things is that it will never become redundant. The physical hardware is going to last a long time and can be upgraded when the user wants to, but the content being put through the system is growing and continually improving. You could have a new thing every day, so it never gets boring.”

Looking at how entertainment might develop over the next decade, Fichte says: “I think people will start to appreciate quality more. For years, we have seen the trend to be convenience over quality, but that is changing now that people are aware of what is possible.”

Main image: Island Prestige as part of a multipurpose music, cinema, and guest reception room (Photo: L-Acoustics Creations)