I came to CEDIA this year looking for ways to solve the everyday, annoying little challenges that always crop up. Not only did I find some great solutions to problems I knew I had, but I even found some for problems that I didn’t know I had.
One of my biggest pet peeves is the fact that many cable boxes do not have discreet power commands. In NYC, Time Warner is a dominant player, and their set-top boxes not only don’t have discreet power, but TWC has a default ‘power saver’ setting that turns the box off after four hours of inactivity and is reset when TWC pushes an update, so even when we turn it off, it is reactivated after a few weeks or months. So leaving the cable box on all the time is not a reliable option. At CEDIA, I found one third party video sensor and a couple that are proprietary to their control systems. Global Cache makes a composite/component video sensor that connects to a video out of a source and to their network appliance, the GC-100-6, and via drivers available for most control systems; your control processor can ping the GC-100 to know the state of the cable box. Integrating this into RTI, Clare Controls, or another control system should be pretty straightforward. URC has a composite/component video sensor that is native to the Total Control family of products. And Control4 has a voltage sensor that can detect if a set-top box is in a standby or power-on state. All of these solutions provide rock solid control of devices without discrete power commands.
Pakedge is becoming more and more of a software company. This week they introduced the NK-1, a network controller to which the integrator can also load router and cloud management functionality, consolidating three boxes into one. This makes the rack much cleaner and also provides a more frictionless upgrade path for our customers since there is no additional hardware to buy to add functionality to their network.
Lack of 4K Content
We and our clients love 4K. Stores are packed with 4K TVs, and the CEDIA show floor has even more displays and projectors. But there just isn’t much content. Netflix has a few movies, but the pickings are pretty slim. Kaleidescape has introduced the Strato 4K media server. With content licensing deals already in place with Sony and with more to come, there is a decent amount of 4K content. In addition, the engine within the Strato powers a scaler that upconverts regular HD content to 4K with stunning results.
With Siri, the world has come to embrace voice control and commands. Amazon launched the Echo, which is great as a party trick to play some music or ask some trivia questions. But Clare Controls has turned the Echo and its virtual assistant, Alexa, into a powerful home automation tool. All you need to do is say “Alexa, tell Clare to turn on the living room lights,” and the integration between the Echo and Clare kicks into action. Say “Alexa, tell Clare to arm the alarm system,” and Alexa asks your for our security code and then arms the system. The possibilities are endless and frankly, it’s just really cool.
The holy grail of our industry is the recurring monthly revenue enjoyed by our peers in the security industry. Many manufacturers have created tools to allow us to charge our clients a monthly fee for services, but the billing and payment processing have been left up to us, requiring each dealer to recreate the wheel. Clare Controls has followed the lead of the security industry and will create a single resource for RMR generated by a new platform. Clients will pay a monthly fee for remote access to their system, user configurable scenes, and a 24/7/365 support center. Clare will handle all billing and payments and provide the integrator with a monthly check, paying them their share of the monthly revenue for all of their customers on the Clare platform.