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CEDIA Gains Momentum

The CEDIA show motto is Think Big. For Vin Bruno, that seems to be a personal mantra, as well.

Offices can be weird places in the middle of summer. Stop by on the wrong day and half a building might be on vacation at a beach somewhere or calling in from their home offices while juggling summer break childcare.

CEDIA’s Indianapolis headquarters offers a decidedly different sort of vibe this time of year, however, especially when CEO Vin Bruno is in the building and the staff is preparing for its annual convention. I stopped by for a mid-July meeting, and left with my head spinning after learning everything that Bruno and his team have planned.

When Bruno ascended to the helm of CEDIA, he had big plans for the association. Almost exactly one year later, he’s delivering on many of those promises, while creating opportunities that would have been hard to predict when he was getting started. Much of what I learned in my whirlwind meeting with Bruno will be announced at the CEDIA show, September 13-17 in Dallas, but what I can write should provide enough to whet your appetite about a trade association that is on the move in ways we haven’t seen before.

Most intriguing so far is the news that Amazon director of Alexa Smart Home, Charlie Kindel, will present a Friday Morning Keynote at CEDIA 2016. Kindel’s keynote will focus on voice control experiences in the home and the natural user interface ecosystem. Amazon representatives also will present two CEDIA courses, and voice control is a featured topic for one of the new free CEDIA panel sessions. While a vendor keynote might not seem all that exciting, what this news says to me is that CEDIA is actively engaged in a very big consumer electronics trend, rather that reacting to it. Just two years ago, show planners were caught flatfooted as practically every audio manufacturer presented some form of “3D audio” solution on the show floor. Voice recognition is certainly not new, but the “Alexa” phenomenon exploded in the months since last year’s show, and now CEDIA members can engage in the opportunities that it presents at the show.

Other events and changes planned for Dallas include a new Thursday night awards Celebration (no more Saturday night event), as well as nine CEDIA Talks on various technology and business opportunities, and several free panel sessions. But, Bruno is also engaged in finding ways to expand the CEDIA universe beyond the annual convention.

In what I’m told will be the first of many announcements like it, CEDIA has partnered with the International Builders’ Show (IBS) and Kitchen & Bath Industry Show to allow CEDIA to build a Smart Home Pavilion at the January 10-12 Orlando convention. The exhibit, which will feature companies that specialize in technology solutions for the home, is an attempt to build more awareness of how CEDIA professionals can work together with builders. It also demonstrates to me how Bruno and his team are branching out as an advocacy group for their members. The CEDIA show motto is Think Big. For Vin Bruno, that seems to be a personal mantra, as well.