Integrator of the Week: Justin Schwartz

Integrator of the Week: Justin Schwartz

This week’s Integrator of the Week is Justin Schwartz. Schwartz is the CEO of Sage AV, a New York-based audio/visual integration company known for standing behind their work, maintaining it, upgrading it and adapting it to whatever new technologies or functionality come into play. Connected Design talked with him to find out more about how he got to his current position, his favorite current products and what he likes to do when he’s not working with tech.

What made you decide to go into technology?

Schwartz: “Like most in our industry, it was always a hobby. While in college, I quit the job I was working at, that was in the field of my major, and started working at Best Buy. After college, a good friend and I used to chat over drinks about the AV company we were going to start together. We were on separate career paths at the time but after working as an electrical contractor for several years I was looking to make a move. My friend ended up getting me my first job in the industry and I loved almost every aspect of it. After working with his firm for a few years, it was time to move on. With the help of a very supportive wife, I decided to go at it on my own.”

What is your favorite product or solution right now in the industry?

Schwartz: “Ketra Lighting. I appreciate the wellness aspect of human centric lighting, however what I love is how it removes the ambiguity of sunlight and artificial light in the home. Regardless of how many windows you have or their sizes, it truly feels like you are getting natural sunlight throughout your home. It is also great having the flexibility to adjust color temperature to the scene you want at any part of the day. Another amazing feature is what Ketra calls “vibrancy”. It allows you to tweak the way certain colors appear and it truly makes artwork pop.”

What is the best part of your job?

Schwartz: “The problem solving. When integrating so many devices into a single solution, there are always going to be issues. It is like trying to solve a puzzle to make everything work seamlessly. Definitely stressful at times but the wins are nice when you figure it out.”

What has been your favorite installation to date?

Schwartz: “We recently completed a lounge for a client in their New York City apartment. This room would put most night clubs to shame. A Pro-audio setup complete with two (2) PMC Active BB6-XBD systems, d&b audiotechnik subs, Pioneer DJ rig, Planar LED Video wall, built in LED lights throughout the walls and ceilings all connected to a customized Music Visualizer with curated content. When not in “club mode”, it also doubles as a 9.4 Surround Movie Theater outfitted with a Barco Balder Projector in a retractable Future Automation lift along with a motorized Stewart film-screen and custom in-wall Leon speakers. It is hands-down the coolest room in any NYC apartment.”

What is one fun fact about you that isn’t industry related?

Schwartz: “I am a golf junkie. A few years back a friend and I decided we are going to try and play all of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” ranked by Golf Digest. Whenever we have an opportunity to get on an exclusive course, we have to be ready to jump on it. We have knocked off just about 40 so far. Some courses are a lot more difficult to get on than others. Speaking of which, if you have any connections at Augusta, let me know.”

There’s Much More to Lighting Than Meets the Eye

On And Off Are Not The Full Story

Long ago, people learned to use fire to light their path, warm their cave and keep predators at bay. Their lives improved dramatically when they became able to turn night into day and a home into a safe, cozy place. This was the first occurrence of what we now know as Lighting and Lighting Control. The technology continues to improve, but the core benefits are interestingly similar.

Today we can speak one command or touch a virtual button on a smartphone or keypad to harness the power and enrichments provided by lighting. If you’re still using basic dimmers and timers to manage the light inside and outside your home or office, you’re only using about 10% of what’s possible! Here’s what you’re missing, and it’s a lot.



There’s more to convenience than just being able to turn lights on and off – or dim them. Let’s light it up with some options here.

Lighting Scenes can be scheduled to deliver the best illumination for any situation: cheerful light to greet you at breakfast, moody light when your family settles in to watch TV, or something elegant when you entertain. The best part? You can press a button to achieve this, or it can automatically occur without even thinking about it.

Lighting sensors can automatically extinguish lights when a room is empty. Got kids? If so, you’ll understand this major benefit.

Lighting can be married with your smart home control system to respond as you wish to specific situations. For example, press one button to start a movie and lighting control can dim the lights, draw the shades and gently lower the projector screen. Or if your home security alarm activates, lights that assure safety and well-lit exit paths can be activated—automatically.

Control lighting remotely using a mobile app—from anywhere—at any time, even while away on vacation across the globe.



Lights that turn on an off at specific times of the day or night can make your home look lived-in when you’re away. We have been doing this for clients for some time. But now imagine security lights that follow the same schedule as the sun, automatically without even thinking about it.

Security benefits don’t stop there. Turn on your driveway, garage and select lights from your car as your drive up, so you never again arrive to a dark home. Turn all lights on—or off—or make them flash if you think you hear a noise after dark. For many homeowners, expertly designed and professionally installed lighting control delivers maximum peace of mind—and more protection for you and your loved ones.


Most of us understand that the right lighting makes your home more beautiful from the outside with expertly designed exterior lights, while indoor lighting systems enhance your décor. But have you thought about how lighting can also make wall art more realistic or make you feel better about your home and yourself? New natural lighting from Ketra shines just the right light to make you and your art look their best at all times. We’ll get into more on Ketra in a moment.



Being able to instantly or automatically dim and schedule lights not only saves money by reducing energy expenses—these energy-conscious measures also help keep our Earth a little bit greener. And that can make you feel a little bit better about your home and environment.


The second subtle but often unknown benefit of lighting control relies on new technologies know as Wellness Lighting. If you haven’t heard about it, we offer these leading light technologies at Sage.

Wellness lighting—it’s an extremely significant topic. With Wellness Lighting, your home can enjoy lighting colors and lighting changes throughout the day that match our body rhythms. This latest development in lighting gently helps our bodies become relaxed at bedtime and more alert in the morning and throughout the day.

You can read more about new Wellness Lighting in our  blog about Ketra, one of the proven brands we recommend from Lutron.

Contact us to learn more about how we can light up your spaces, light and life! We look forward to hearing about your interests and consulting on exactly the right solution for you and yours.

Photo Credits: Lutron, Delos. All rights reserved.

Valentine’s Day Gifts for Tech Lovers

Valentine’s Day Gifts for Tech Lovers

Valentine’s Day is a special day for recognizing and pampering the people we love. Flowers and chocolates have always been the Valentine’s Day norm, but this past year has proven to be anything but ordinary. While technology may not seem like the most romantic Valentine’s Day gift,  it’s a great way to show your partner that you listen to them and pay attention to what they love. Aren’t sure of which tech gift to get? Don’t worry; we made a list of the best tech gifts for your loved one- some that can literally say, “I love you.”


Meural Wi-Fi Photo Frame or Canvas

Why not bring art and photography in one cool gift with the Meural Wi-Fi Photo Frame (smaller in size) and the Canvas II (larger). These products are far from your ordinary digital frame as they bring your photos and art to life beautifully and naturally. With a simple wave of your hand or the Meural app, you can create playlists, personalize your frames, and share your photos instantly and privately with loved ones anywhere across the world.  

The Mirror

If your partner is a fitness lover, the Mirror is an ideal gift. The Mirror, controlled using a mobile app offers access to both live and on-demand classes in over 50 workout genres at different skill levels. It also has the option for family workouts and personal training options with the country’s top trainers.


Inspire from anywhere with this enthralling messaging board that has the charm of an old-school mechanical display (split-flat display) with a modern twist. The Vestaboard is the size of a 42-inch LCD TV and can be placed anywhere- from your home to your office. Using your phone, you can display inspirational quotes, to-do lists, love letters, and more. Vestaboard creates a shared messaging experience to capture attention and enhance any setting, at any time, even in each other’s absence.

Membership to Audible

Prefer listening over reading or watching? Audible is the leading creator and provider of audio storytelling. There are inexhaustible titles one can listen to from envied podcasts, originals, audiobooks, and thousands of other content.  Audible membership gives access to premium content not available to everyone and includes a free 30-day trial. Other perks include access to the Audible Plus Catalog of audiobooks, podcasts, Audible Originals, and guided wellness. Happy Listening!


Looking for a sweet and inexpensive gift for Valentine’s Day? Lovebox’s connected messaging device can send messages, photos, love notes, stickers, or drawings with the free Lovebox app.  It is small and portable, and every time there is a message, its heart rotates. It is also rechargeable, and messages can be sent from any location. 

Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones

Elevate your loved one’s listening experience with Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones. With premium sound and personalized sound settings, these codeless headphones cancel noise in HD to allow clarity for whatever you are listening to. It has a QN1 processor that blurs the noise regardless of the environment and technology that enables optimizing the air pressure to enhance noise canceling on flights. 


A digital notepad like reMarkable 2 is the next-generation paper tablet and a unique gift for tech lovers. With it, you can take handwritten notes, review documents, convert your handwritten notes into text, organize and access all your notes on all devices, and take notes directly on PDFs. The tablet has an eraser, a pen and is eye-friendly. The digital notepad lets users take handwritten notes on a display that feels like paper.

Sonos Move

If you’re a loved one is a music lover, Sonos Move is the perfect gift. This speaker can do it all, inside or outside the home. Sonos Move offers brilliant sound through its Bluetooth speakers that automatically adapts its audio parameters to suit your listening environment. So, whether it be down the park, in the shower, or the garage, the Move creates a quality listening experience.

Entertainment Subscription Service

Everybody loves movies, T.V series, and entertaining video content. So why not get your partner a subscription to an entertainment package like Spotify, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon prime, or Netflix? They are sure to enjoy it. Make some customized playlists – one for easing into the weekend and another for their workout sessions. Include their favorite shows to show that you care. Offer instant gratification and a good reason to stick indoors on Valentine’s Day. 

Obe Fitness membership

Get your significant other a fitness tech gift that fits their preferred fitness activities.  The Obe Fitness membership offers unlimited live dance, yoga, cardio boxing, pilates, and sculpt. Loved ones can get back to peak fitness from their tablet, phone, or streaming device.


Happy shopping and happy Valentine’s Day!


Contact us to learn more about how virtual reality technology can help get you through the Coronavirus pandemic, and beyond, as well as give our recommendations on VR products that may be useful for you.

Utilizing Virtual Technology During the Coronvius Pandemic

Utilizing Virtual Technology During the Coronavirus Pandemic

In just a few short months the Coronavirus, aka COVID-19, has gone from an isolated outbreak in China to a global pandemic. While personal and family health has remained a top priority, we are also modifying the way we do business, travel, and educate our children.

If necessity is the mother of invention, adaptation is the father of survival. Learning to leverage virtual reality in our lives is a natural transition. Our modern-day activities that once required an in-person presence can now be accomplished virtually. 

Virtual Reality (VR) has come a long way with capabilities that stretch far beyond gaming. VR can help make the workday feel more professional, education more engaging, and bring all the sites of your favorite vacation spot to your home as you keep yourself and your family safe.


Video calls and conferences are being widely used to keep us connected in a wide range of business situations, but in many cases, they are proving to be insufficient. There’s no substitute for being in the same room as your team members or coworkers. That being said,  VR technology is gaining traction in keeping the lines of communication open in both B2B and B2C activities.

Utilizing VR in business allows you to gather together with your colleagues without possible exposure to the virus and without the need for travel. Products from Oculus ( have upped the quality of VR experiences and made virtual meetings and training sessions a reality. It’s now possible for participants to feel as though they’re interacting in the same virtual space. This 3D environment facilitates remote communication and collaboration in unprecedented ways. 

Business training is one of the most important VR applications because you can place your employees in realistic settings. 

If you are taking a more individualized approach, Oculus VirtualSpeech gives your employees the opportunity to hone in on their public speaking skills. You can upload slides for presentations and receive real-time feedback on delivery. You can even receive an eye-contact rating.


VR tours are proving to be useful ways too, including allowing anyone in quarantine to tour America’s national parks or visit the Smithsonian National Museum of National History without leaving home, VR also allows you to travel anywhere in the world without leaving the safety of your living room. 

Google has been on the cutting edge of VR travel technology with Google Earth VR which lets you explore the world via headset by strolling around or soaring above the most famous places on earth. Most recently, this tech giant has released The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks which allows you to take 360-degree tours of some of the most remote and beautiful places in the United States.


The coronavirus has led to the temporary closure of schools worldwide. According to, these closures have affected over 87% of the world’s student population. In a matter of weeks, students across the globe found themselves in temporary home-schooling situations.

New educational approaches could result in innovations to narrow the gap caused by the digital divide, and there are companies who have already been focusing on providing new educational options via the VR learning environment. Teachers around the globe are finding new ways to use VR technology to connect with students, bridging the gap created by social distancing. 

Tools like the Expeditions app, originally intended to bring virtual reality and augmented reality into the classroom, could prove just as effective at bringing the classroom into students’ homes. 

Apple has created tools, such as headsets, to combine virtual reality with augmented reality. It is currently developing the ability to record AR and VR experiences to be watched again later or transmitted to others. While it’s already possible to record live gameplay, this application would enable you to capture both real-world and computer-generated elements.


These are unprecedented times and we have to continue looking for ways to interact and stimulate our well being. Through virtual reality, social interaction seems possible and can reduce our levels of anxiety and isolation, along with improving our quality of life. 

Contact us to learn more about how virtual reality technology can help get you through the Coronavirus pandemic, and beyond, as well as give our recommendations on VR products that may be useful for you.

The Importance of Collaboration for Architects, Interior Designers & AV Specialists

The Importance of Collaboration for Architects, Interior Designers & AV Specialists

For years, architects and interior designers have done an impressive job for homeowners, commercial and office spaces, dedicated to delivering their client’s wants and needs. However, in this digital age, much has changed. Audiovisual technology has revolutionized the way building spaces are imagined and designed, creating a new paradigm that requires architects, interior designers, and AV specialists to work together from the initial stages of any construction project.

Here is why it’s of utmost importance this trio should work together:


Maintaining the Aesthetics of the Design:

Most clients prefer to conceal AV technology in their homes or offices. They want a design that is functional yet beautiful. Designers benefit by having an AV specialist know a room’s layout through their vision. They will be able to locate any hidden-behind-the-wall impediments that may affect special lighting features, sound systems, or designated entertainment areas. They are also vital in creating and designing quality technology systems that achieve seamless integration within a space both aesthetically and efficiency in performance.

Some home improvements can cost a lot of money while adding no significant value to your home. On the other hand, an efficient climate control system not only lowers your bills but also provides a strong selling point if you ever decide to part with your home in future. Because most buyers weigh the cost of energy bills, HVAC repairs, and replacement while looking for a home to buy, having an efficient climate-control system in place will attract potential buyers.


Keeping The Overall Vision:

By partnering with an AV specialist, architects and designers can rest assured their vision for the look and feel of the space will be maintained, as well as the timeline of installing these components. 


Maintaining Architectural/Structural Design: 

When it comes to the construction phase, architects should consider any AV technology system that is within the plan. Designing and specifying all AV systems at the initial phase of any architectural project will ensure that the systems get the necessary financial plan. Unfortunately, audiovisual technology is often overlooked, leading to further complications down the line. AV is an expensive technology to retrofit if it’s not incorporated in the initial phases. When working together with architects, AV specialists ensure that all the necessary elements are included in the construction phase.


Coexistence of Devices:

Installing different AV technologies is not as easy as it seems. There is a lot to consider before various technologies become functional. Different devices have an impact on each other. To mitigate the challenges that come with the multiple devices coexisting, coordination from the interior designers, architects, and AV specialists is crucial.



The risk of not involving an AV specialist in the architectural and interior designing process can drive extra costs and trigger other challenges for building owners. AV technology is expensive to retrofit when not incorporated in the initial design phase.


Staying Current on Technological Trends:

As an architect or designer, it can be challenging to stay current about other aspects of the job that aren’t directly related to your specialty. Because technology is continually evolving, few architects and designers are aware of all the technical aspects of the latest technology. Partnering with an AV specialist will ensure you are working with someone who is up to date on all the most recent home technologies, trends, and products. 


Summing it Up:

Today, many people want their space to be creatively planned, comfortable, and intriguing. For overall success and to suit the client’s requirements, the collaboration of architects, interior designers, and AV specialist is necessary.


Learn more by contacting SAGE today

When Technology Meets Interior Design


These days, exceptional interior design demands the adoption of technology. While technology used to be a stumbling block to flawless interior design, today, the best interior designers have the skills to incorporate technology into home designs to enhance the style, functionality, and sustainability of spaces while maintaining the integrity of their design

Installations such as TVs and sound systems that would get in the way or were an eyesore are now able to simply blend in or disappear. 

So, whether you are remodeling your home, or performing a much-needed upgrade, here are some technologies that your interior designer should be aware of.

Mirror TVs


One of the most common challenges interior designers face today is successfully blending entertainment with style. One product that has effortlessly accomplished this is the Mirror TV.  Mirror TV functions like your normal TV; allowing you to watch all your favorite shows and movies. However, unlike a normal TV that turns to a dark screen when turned off, a Mirror TV is designed to look like a framed mirror, beautifully adorning your walls.

Mirror TVs are stylistic and practical and great for living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms. Smaller sizes are great for bathrooms and kitchens, while the large sizes are ideal for living rooms and bedrooms. 

Beautifully framed mirror TVs relieve you of the monotony of installing many plain mirrors as well as having bulky TV equipment in each room. It is also pretty captivating the instance you turn a mirror into a TV by the touch of a button.

They have lots of options to choose from in terms of color, finishing, and frames. 


TV Lifts

 Gone are the days when flat screens were only mounted on walls. TV lifts are all the rage for modern homes and offices. Functionally, it helps to make minimalistic designs a success—you have a TV that doesn’t occupy space on the walls, and no unsightly wires either. The most common TV lift devices are Pop-Up, Pop-Down, Wall Panel, and Monitor lift systems. 

The Under Bed TV lift is a unique mechanism that stores your flat screen under your bed. This eliminates the need for installing cabinetry at the foot of your bed. It is a compact and sleek pop-up design that helps create a different dimension in your room as its revealed and concealed by the use of a motorized flap.

An in-ceiling TV lift ensures complete integration of your TV and space while offering functionality and discretion. It offers you the theatre experience as you operate it automatically from your seat.


Motorized Panels

When it comes to interior design, motorized panels offer a wide range of benefits. These panels are designed to hide TVs or hide rooms. They can slide back at the push of a button to expose a TV when being watched and make it disappear when not needed.

Motorized panels are a functional and aesthetic solution for both home and office. They can be custom made in a variety of textures, patterns, finishes, and grains. You can choose between artwork and fabric movable panels. These panels are great at hiding anything you don’t want people to see all the time.

Invisible Speakers

Invisible speakers, commonly known as tape-in/plaster speakers, have become popular fixtures in both homes and offices. The concept of invisible speakers is not entirely new. However, advances in sound technology have made these systems quite trendy. They are installed in wall and ceiling cavities, taking up no extra space. And, they don’t just blend into the wall or ceiling, they become part of it. More so, these high tech speakers sound quality remains crisp, even through walls and ceilings. 


If you’re taking the time to invest in the most up-to-date technology for your home, you also want to ensure your surroundings and contents are aesthetically pleasing. Trufig is a revolutionary flush mounting system that provides you the option of keeping the integrity of your design vision, eliminating conspicuous and bulky design flaws. From phone plates to switches/dimmers to home automation keypads and electrical outlets, this innovative technology eliminates protrusions from finished wall surfaces, complementing the architecture and creating a harmonious design, rather than distracting from it.

Custom Lighting Controls

Sublime interior design always takes into account lighting controls. A typical centralized lighting system makes a huge improvement by reducing “wall acne”. A bank of 6 or 7 light switches can be replaced with a clean single gang keypad. That being said, options from Forbes to Lomax, Meljac and Bocce take it one step further and definitely add a new level of excitement to design. These companies offer a variety of button and toggle solutions that blend in nicer with the decor. They can be integrated into your lighting system but also be programmed to control your window shades or even your music.

Working with the Right Interior Designer

As technology continuously advances, it is imperative that interior designers are aware of these emerging trends and their correlation to interior design. This allows for ingenious contributions in functionality, style, aesthetics, and proper use of space. Regardless of what you’re looking to upgrade in your home, finding an interior designer is the easy part, but finding one that knows all the new aesthetic options available will make the difference between an average upgrade or a technologically-superior one.