The Future of Home Control

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I recently visited Disney World to see one of its most enduring attractions: the Carousel of Progress. This revolving presentation clarifies how accelerating technology is changing the way we live. We are the purveyors of high tech to the homeowners of America. We are the visionaries who sell the belief that technology will redefine the home of the future.

Cellular Power
For installation companies, the big news is the new iPhone, Blackberry, and similar cell phones have forever changed the way we communicate. New cell phone keyboards and touchscreens are opening the door to mobile Internet access. How many people are using these cellphone keyboards? Over 2.3 trillion text messages will be sent in 2008, with China topping the list of countries sending the most.

Why are advances in mobile phones important to companies who install home systems? This information is extremely important because it signals a major trend in the use of cell phones. The new keyboards and Web connections mean home entertainment and home automation must now combine with mobile Web connections. Forward thinking home AV installers need to redefine the limits of their services and position their offerings ahead of the curve and start delivering home electronics that connect with mobile electronics.

The CEDIA community needs to see the birth of new tools to connect their home products to mobile cell phones. For example, there are readily available standalone services that connect cell phones to IP cameras, so that homeowners can instantly see who is in their home or at their door. This is a new killer application for homeowners who want enhanced security.

Tapping into Mobile Options
Current innovations are revolutionizing the ways we communicate, work and spend our leisure time. We are witnessing the tearing down of walls between home and mobile technologies. AV companies who want to thrive must train or hire IT/networking employees and package new solutions to include easy to use mobile connectivity with their home products.

Those of us installing the home AV and networks are working in the center of something, like a nuclear reactor being born. We will now be called upon to connect this home network to an array of new smart cell phones with wireless Internet, video, music, and GPS. When users connect their local networks to their mobile devices, they can take all of their technology with them wherever they go.

AV installation companies who want to survive in this new mobile age must go beyond simply installing iPod docks. Todays IP and wireless technologies demand that we connect home entertainment and home automation together with the full range of portable wireless devices. New training will be required.

The touchscreens and keyboards on the new cell phones now make them the ultimate remote control devices whether at home or away from home. We have entered a time when accessing a webpage from a mobile phone is now the ultimate way to take control of home network devices. Typical PC-based software will be challenged by Web applications where users can log in from anywhere on any Web device. Full functions of sophisticated Crestron, AMX, and other control systems can be delivered to mobile phones in new user-friendly, cost-effective ways.

Just as we have seen the iPod revolutionize music delivery, we will see the iPhone, BlackBerry, and other smart cell phones become essential controllers for all home systems. This connection between home and mobile will rapidly become a core element of this industry.