Now that CEDIA 2015 has wrapped up and we’ve all had a chance to get back into our routines, I took a little time to reflect back on the show and think about the products and companies that really caught my eye. These aren’t necessarily the best, the coolest, or the must-have products, and this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything worth seeing at the show. But they are the ones that you couldn’t walk the floor without hearing about. Just as the busiest booths at the show seemed to belong to the control companies, these three products are all about control and control systems.
By far the most talked about product on the show floor was the new Savant remote control. It seemed like that was the only thing in the company’s product line, as there was so much space dedicated to it in the booth. There were definitely mixed feelings about this remote, particularly because it will first be sold via mass retail channels to the consumer at Best Buy. Naturally, there is some agita in the industry around what this means for the custom install market and Savant dealers.
The Savant Remote
First of all, the remote is similar to a Logitech Harmony. It can control a single room, some lamp dimmers and uses an IR blaster to control devices. At $500 it is a great value for the consumer and will definitely give them a taste for home automation with lighting control and AV control. The challenge is that it’s not clear if the remote can be integrated into a larger Savant system. I feel that would be a huge miss for Savant not to make the remote work with the rest of its product line. Better to allow clients to grow into a larger system, where they will need custom integrators to help them, than to make them totally start from scratch, possibly putting a bad taste in their mouths for the brand and causing them to look elsewhere. If you have a customer in your brand and product ecosystem, why would you give them an opportunity or reason to look elsewhere?
Next up for me was a product called ADAPT, from Crestron programming company PanTech Design. ADAPT is a programming platform for Crestron dealers and programmers, making it easier to deploy and make changes to systems with less custom programming. There was a lot of action at this company’s booth as it appears many dealers would like to make their Crestron programming more streamlined for the most common tasks. Adapt definitely helps them do that, with an intuitive interface and a way to update client systems on the fly without any interruption to a client’s usage experience.
A Crestron-programmed and controlled R2-D2 patrolled the area in front of the PanTech booth.
The two big drawbacks are that the programming still needs to start in SIMPL Windows and the upfront cost for the software. Requiring the projects to begin in SIMPL defeats the purpose, to a large extent (in my mind), of the software package. You still need to have a programmer or pay an outside provider to get the projects started with a framework before you can use the ADAPT software. The cost of the package can be a bit of a hurdle as well. It is structured as a one-time, upfront payment. I am more than a little surprised that the PanTech team didn’t make it a monthly or annual license to lower the cost of entry for a customer and to ensure an ongoing revenue stream—every integrator would love an RMR stream, so I’m surprised PanTech, a company with roots in custom integration, wouldn’t go down that path for their own benefit.
Finally, Clare Controls had some very cool technology and a great service to showcase. Integration is key for Clare; the company demonstrated adding a Sonos component to the system in just seconds. They did it live right in front of us, and it took less than a minute to have the Sonos zone active in the Clare system.
The second cool piece of technology I already mentioned in my show blog was integration with Amazon Echo, which allows the user to use voice commands to interact with this popular consumer device to access commands in the Clare system, like turning on/off lights, arming/disarming security systems, and many other subroutines.
Finally, Clare is launching an RMR opportunity that takes the burden of billing off of the dealer. They have modeled it after the successful security industry model, in which the manufacturer bills the customer and then aggregates payments for the dealer on a monthly basis. Why should thousands of dealers recreate a monthly billing and tracking system when the manufacturer can do it once and enable it for all of their dealers? I’ve been waiting for a manufacturer to do this and am thrilled that Clare saw the light. As part of this service, Clare is also going to be offering a 24/7/365 call center for end users. Customers can call the service line, taking some of the burden off of the dealer and offering a great experience for the customer as well.
Those were the three companies and their products that caught my eye the most. What did you see or hear about that seemed to generate the most buzz?