So here is the thing: if you have been in this industry for a while, you’ve heard of the “Crestron Kool-Aid.” Maybe, you too have experienced it. No other company can woo you with promises of possibilities.
Don’t get me wrong; what Crestron makes is amazing. But notoriously, they’re complicated. If you have a bad programmer, your system will be a mess. For this reason, I’ve hired programmers all the way to the West Coast to program my projects in Buffalo. My programmer can charge a premium because he’s amazing, and this cost is passed on to the client. For this reason, Crestron has always been the high-end system for the rich and famous.
They’ve tried before and failed to saturate the middle market (Prodigy). They’ve attempted to make programming simple before (System Builder). These experiments left some who gulped down the Kool-Aid ending up with a bit of a hangover. Yet, when Crestron released Pyng a few years ago, I still bought it for my showroom and my home.
Crestron’s new middle-market automation worked well for lighting, but the app ran slowly, no cost-effective music solution existed, and you still needed a completely separate system for even simple AV control. Still, when Crestron invited me to New York City last week for the final of three CTP (Crestron Technical Professional) Summits, I wholeheartedly accepted. (Either I’m a glutton for punishment, a true disciple, or addicted to their Kool-Aid.)
The event held at the Crestron Design Studio in Manhattan sits smack dab in the middle of an 18-story building surround by interior designer offices. An experience center with a home-like setup, complete with a living room and bedroom, outfits the space. It shows clients “how” the system can work in a home without mention of products.
The first swig of the Kool-Aid came when the Crestron team acknowledged that they have previously failed us, and assured us that they have learned from these mistakes. Today, they see the writing on the wall with more installers than ever before attempting to put systems together themselves. For this reason, they have allowed for the full Sonos app to integrate into their touchpanels. Moving forward, they will allow third-party “friends” to develop drivers for their software, and have even dedicated specifically to supporting it. Our entire industry would excel if we saw more cooperation like this.
Pyng has been updated and is faster, and by combining it with Crestron’s new Studio programming software, one can have a fully capable Crestron system without using SIMPL Windows programming. This hybrid of simplified programming and easy-to-launch equipment will allow easier deployment of Crestron systems. Further demonstrating their reinvestment in residential, the company has launched specialized classes dedicated to the collaboration of both Pyng and Studio, and even a launched (another) new website, www.crestronshowroom.com, with an end-user focus. This site will feature videos, white papers, and more customer-centric examples.
“Our primary goal was to reaffirm to our CTPs that Crestron is 100-percent committed, more than ever before, to the residential sector,” said Michael Short, the new residential marketing manager. “We wanted to show you the tremendous team we now have focusing on the sector and the investment we have been putting in. Whether that was building the technology team, our residential marketing focus, or the management that we now have.”
Crestron’s reinvestment did ring loud and clear to me, especially if the new systems work together as well as we’re told they will.