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It’s Almost Labor Day. Time to Form a CEDIA 2016 Game Plan

From Innovation Alley to the most established players like Pakedge, URC, Anthem/Paradigm, Clare Controls, Control4, Savant, and many others, I’ll have my schedule booked solid.

It’s that time of year again. Labor Day is this weekend, which means that CEDIA is just a couple of short weeks away. I’m all booked for Dallas, my work schedule that week has been cleared of anything critical, and I’m getting psyched up for walking the show floor again (and letting all of you know what I find that’s cool and interesting). From Innovation Alley to the most established players like Pakedge, URC, Anthem/Paradigm, Clare Controls, Control4, Savant, and many others, I’ll have my schedule booked solid.

I’m pretty intrigued to see what companies Crestron partners with at the show. This year their only presence at the show will be as a partner at several industry partner booths. I’m sure they’ll be with some of the traditional heavy weights in electronics and front projection, but I’m also interested in the less traditional partners.

And I’m going to shock a lot of you, but I’m really interested to see what Sonos has to show and say about its new integration partners. They started their integration path last year with Savant, and I that list is growing this year with deeper and more reliable integration with more control systems and maybe more info on an API. It may be wishful thinking, but it would be nice to see them do more to play nicely in the sandbox with everyone else.

In the same vein as the DIY-ish Sonos, I’m also hoping to see more integration with Amazon Echo and Alexa. Voice control is something clients now ask about, and I’d love to say I’ve seen some things coming down the pipe that will fit the bill. I know that Lutron, Sonos, and Clare Controls integrate with Alexa, and I would hope to see something similar from other control companies. Speaking of Clare, I’ve always been interested in what they show at CEDIA as they are really innovative and often show some really cool tech—like the Alexa and Sonos integration last year. This year I expect Clare will be showing off, its consumer portal that will sell product direct to the consumer, while giving the dealer some margin as well, will handle Tier 1 tech support, and will allow dealers to collect the always elusive RMR. I hope to have more information during the show.

Also in the DIY market is Eero, the mesh network WiFi product that has been all over my Facebook feed. Now that Access Networks will be carrying the line, we have an opportunity to earn some margin and sell and install a product that could be a good solution for retrofits where there isn’t category cable pulled throughout the home (or at least not to the areas with weak signals). It remains to be seen for me how Eero will play with control systems that require more robust networks; I haven’t heard yet whether Crestron, Control4, Savant, ELAN, or Clare endorses the product.

I addition to Clare and Crestron partners, I will definitely spend some time checking out what new, cool products and solutions the control companies are offering—everyone from Control4, Savant, and ELAN to URC and RTI, and everyone else who is offering control packages and integrating everything in the home. As I mentioned, I hope to see some voice control as well as more consumer flexibility with setting scenes and schedules and other interactions with the system.

Finally, but very importantly, I’ll spend some time with networking and remote monitoring services out there—everyone from Pakedge and Ihiji to Luxul and SnapAV. I’ve been very impressed with SnapAV’s Ovrc service and how it really pulls everything together. They have been marketing the Ovrc Pro product lately, and I can’t wait to see what that will offer. I expect to see a consumer-facing app for end-users to reboot their own products without having to call us. The ability to remotely access the GUIs of non-Ovrc-enabled network product, and some other time- and money-saving features. There will likely be a monthly subscription for Pro, but I hope the billing will be simplified and outsourced so that dealers can just collect RMR checks and not have to worry about the complexity and hassle of monthly billing—much like Clare is doing with MyClareHome.

Where do you expect to spend your time at CEDIA this year? What are you looking forward to the most?