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CEDIA Opens Up

As I searched for a song on iTunes I thought of the exciting developments that made this year's CEDIA EXPO (my eighth) the most Apple-friendly and "open source" of its kind.

As I searched for a song on iTunes I thought of the exciting developments that made this year’s CEDIA EXPO (my eighth) the most Apple-friendly and “open source” of its kind.

Numerous new residential products with iPhone/iPod Touch modules and open source control interfaces proved that manufacturers in the CEDIA channel really get it. The virtual desktop has replaced the literal desktop, making 3G phone and PC peripheral controls a must. Music and video applications are richer and heavier to load, therefore a smart controller must be strong enough to give full access to entertainment, metadata, and two-way communication of the home’s subsystem but nimble enough to deliver super-fast scroll speed. Also, tighter integration with Apple is essential for any hard-drive-based servers or multi-zone A/V distribution systems.

SpeakerCraft has blazed the iPhone-integration trail. In Denver, it released a new interface for its MODE multi-room AV control system that allows the Apple iPhone or iPod Touch to be used as a wireless remote with control of all sources and routing accessed on the touch screen through an intuitive GUI. The two-way communication operates through the home’s wireless data network via a wired port on the user’s wireless router. The very well-publicized iPhone application from SpeakerCraft.

“The connection is very easy to set up and there is little or no additional programming required by the installer,” explained Jason Craze, SpeakerCraft’s director of electrical engineering. “A person can literally walk through their front door, press a single virtual button on the iPhone touch screen and have access to all of their system’s control functions.” What’s more, “This is an amazing mass market opportunity for the CEDIA channel,” Jeremy Burkhardt, SpeakerCraft’s president, said in the original release.

AMX, Crestron, Life-ware, Savant, Sonance, iPort, Sooloos, Remote Technologies Inc., and myriad others unveiled hardware and software making iPod/iPhone control even easier.

Savant’s new iPod dock In related news, Google made a splash during CEDIA week with its surprise launch of a new web browser, an addition to its attractive app list. Tuesday September 2 the beta test of Chrome was made available for download. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I am eager to try it out.

Chrome is an open source, “universal doorway to the Internet,” designed not just for computers, but also for mobile devices like cellphones, smartphones and PC peripherals. Google wants to: “widen the utility of the Web and Web advertising.Chrome had been created to better handle hefty interactive applications and data-hungry web pages such as video clips and online games without crashing.

I think this news is significant because it suggests the importance of a powerful, intelligent, and agile gateway to the Internet and the need for an open-source browser. Internet 2.0 (our current stage) continues to be more dynamic with the platform for building identity and cultivating business, artistic, academic, and research relationships online. It’s not just about static information retrieval. The Internet is the most social revolutionary movement since literacy, and the Web 2.0 is a tool for user-generated sites, real-time collaboration, and idea sharing.

Analysts say Google cannot let Microsoft’s dominant share of the browser market go unchallenged. Chrome hopes to take market share away from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as well as Firefox (my current fav) and Safari. Google also declared that it has added a video component to its Google Apps Premier Edition, a package of business software aimed at corporate users that will allow employees to safely share speeches, product training, sales meetings, or other employee video messages.

This should be an interesting trend to follow.