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The CEDIA Awards – This Year’s Trends

A spoiler-free preview of what the 2020 entries revealed.

Every year as the CEDIA team pores over the annual Awards entries and shortlists, a kind of anecdotal “Snapshot of What’s Hot” begins to appear. While 2020 definitely had its hiccups, a great many projects that were started before the pandemic struck were finished, and they revealed some pretty interesting trends. Although a few items on this list may seem pretty obvious, we find it really interesting when the Awards case studies reflect bigger market moves in such a demonstrable fashion.

Here’s our spoiler-free list of what the 2020 entries revealed:

Work from home was already gaining traction before the pandemic accelerated it. Although it’s been top-of-mind for many in recent months, a massive percentage of home integrations that had begun before we’d ever heard of “social distancing” included the kind of robust, secure networking that an executive working remotely would demand. In fact, that specific need was mentioned in many, many entries. Mix in e-learning and entertainment, and the beefier systems have really proven their mettle in 2020.

Related: CEDIA Unveils 2020 Best New Products Awards Finalists

More clients seem to want more dBs. The phrase “likes it loud” appeared in a startling number of entries this year — maybe the GenXers raised on grunge and metal want to relive the concert experience at home now that they can afford more big-ticket systems. Whatever the cause, sound isolation has never been more necessary for movie and music consumption alike, it seems. 

All hail the top channel. Again, while most integrators already know this, it’s something to see immersive audio become nearly ubiquitous, whether it’s being implemented in a massive home cinema or a dinky alcove with a flat panel. Clients want that 3D audio experience, and integrators have clearly been pitching it properly.

Rack spaces are getting more and more creative. As the square footage of the average home has decreased over the past few years, the space for gear has followed suit. Even a number of pricier projects had limited space for racks, and integrators answered the challenge with units that slide and turn and tuck into odd spaces. This also meant that firms needed to up their game when it comes to keeping those electronics properly cooled.

The “Destination Space” is a thing. From yoga rooms to spa-like indoor and outdoor spaces, the notion of home as healing, revitalizing place is really gaining traction — it’s another instance of a trend being pushed by the pandemic. That includes bioadaptive lighting — and while we’re on that subject…

Lighting is a bigger thing. You’d have been hard pressed to find an entry in this year’s awards that didn’t mention an integrator’s intimate involvement with lighting and lighting systems (and shading, too). This aspect of the custom integration channel has, quite frankly, exploded in the past few years.

Tech has truly gone outdoors. All-weather TVs. Pool integrations. Sound systems anchored to withstand hurricane-force winds. Wireless access points. Simply put, the trend toward treating the outside area of the home as another room that needs an integrator continues apace.

Tune in to the CEDIA Awards shows on October 8 in three regions: Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific. Find info at