Home theaters, whether as a dedicated room or an multi-purpose family room with the latest audio and video, are seeing a surge in interest as the global pandemic forces more time at home. Even with vaccines becoming readily available in the U.S., enjoying movies, video games, sports, etc. in the living room is still a safe bet when it comes to combining health and entertainment.
There’s no denying it – people’s lives before the pandemic looked much different than they do now, and that includes extracurricular activities like going to the movies. This used to be a very normal after-work and weekend activity, encouraging movie-fanatics to check out the latest and greatest Hollywood releases. Now, due to the pandemic, a large number of theaters around the world have gone dark, shutting their doors indefinitely.
While some theaters have begun opening up again, many at limited capacity, there are still many movie-goers that would rather stay home than potentially open themselves up to health risks.
This has presented a key turning point for the consumer electronic industry – specifically for products made for a home theater experience. Wireless, hassle-free technology is becoming increasingly attractive to homeowners, even for those who weren’t well adapted to smart home products prior to the pandemic.
Streaming services and popular direct-to-home movies like “Mulan” and “Hamilton” have opened eyes to the reality that a cinema-like experience can occur within the walls of a home.
In a recent study, 70 percent of respondents stated they’d prefer to watch movies at home, even if they were given the option to go to a theater. And with the smart TV capabilities offered today, consumers are finding that their streaming services offer surround-sound compatibility, but they might lack the audio equipment to make the most of it. So, what are the options?
Interoperability is the Key
Every year, new products roll out as technology continues to improve, presenting new and fresh ways to enjoy movies, games, music, and more with theater-like sound. Now, multiple leading consumer electronics brands, brought together by the WiSA Association, are bringing that theater-quality audio directly into consumers’ homes.
One WiSA member recently launched a home theater bundle that offers high-resolution audio, is capable of virtual Dolby Atmos performance, and can be set up in minutes to create a true surround sound home cinema solution.
More and more, consumers are wanting an uncomplicated installation process, allowing them to buy the product, set it up, and enjoy it all on their own – eliminating the need to have a third-party come into the house for installation.
Due to a heightened interest in a home cinema experience, it’s critical to establish interoperability for products that share a common wireless technology. When two products are wireless – with one transmitting and others (speakers) receiving – there needs to be a common language that they’re speaking so that they can operate perfectly, creating a great experience.
Big CE brands like LG, Hisense, Bang & Olufsen, Skyworth, Harman Kardon, Klipsch, and many others are continuously launching new, easy-to-use smart TVs and speakers that are available at a wide range of prices, making the home cinema experience a possibility for more and more people. Manufacturers and retailers are also committed to creating and selling simplified wireless products. These brands are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of finding this “common audio language” to make products more appealing to the everyday consumer.
Home Theaters for the Everyday Consumer
Although some recent major sporting events – like the Super Bowl and March Madness – have passed, people are now gearing up for events like the Indy 500. While this global racing spectacle is still scheduled to take place at the end of May, they’re planning to fill just 40 percent of the track’s capacity. This leaves many IndyCar fanatics needing real-life engine sounds roaring at fans right at home – and for that to happen, powerful and immersive audio systems must come into play.
One of the most exciting things about home theaters right now is that they no longer have to be viewed as “luxury” additions to the home. While there are of course still top-of-the-line products to invest in, there are entire surround sound bundles for less than $1,000. What’s more, there was recently an announcement about the world’s first WiSA Certified Dolby Atmos in-ceiling speakers, launched by Lithe Audio. This shows that interoperability and immersive sound can come from multiple form factors and speaker types creating solutions for every use case.
Nearly every industry, including consumer electronics, has pivoted in a way this past year to align with the needs of people around the world. Changes in social habits, including limitations to visiting public places – like movie theaters – have opened the door for products to not only make lives easier, but to bring happiness and bonding experiences right into the home.
As CE brands and WiSA continue to expand and evolve, so will the opportunities for audio enthusiasts to immerse themselves with quality, wireless surround sound. In turn, CE retailers, manufacturers, and dealers will undoubtedly see growth as technology improvements are unveiled in groundbreaking products.