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InfoComm 2014: Commercial Tech That Could Come to Resi

The difference between InfoComm and CEDIA is more than commercial vs. residential; the show itself is beyond dealers and installers. InfoComm welcomes university and government technology department employees, making the attendee dynamic different and a bit more subdued than what I’m used to from CES and CEDIA EXPO.

The entrance to the commercial world of InfoComm 2014 

If you have added the “magic grey area” that lives between commercial and residential, to your portfolio, a trip to InfoComm may be well worth your wild. Here you can sink your teeth into the proper way to design, develop, and install these systems. There is a whole deeper layer to our industry when moving beyond the resi market, and this is the place to begin to absorb it.

After attending last year’s InfoComm (in Orlando) I noticed that many of the new technologies announced and released at InfoComm trickle down to the residential market, and I’m betting the trend will continue. Here are a few that we are seeing at the show that could imagine making their way into our living rooms somewhere in the future:

Laser Projectors. From Sony: “Building on the success of the world’s first 3LCD laser light source projector, the VPL-FHZ55, Sony’s laser projector technology continues to evolve with a new model, called the VPL-FHZ700L. With 7,000 lumens of color brightness, the new FHZ700L is designed for large venue commercial spaces in education, corporate, theme park and museum applications,” For now.

Sony’s VPL-FHZ700L laser projector installed at InfoComm 2014

Laser projectors are said to offer 20,000 hours of maintenance-free operation, and that is something residential clients could get behind. The unit by Sony also offered the ability for floor installation, opening up the ability for truly hidden theater option. As Mike Walsh proposed in his keynote speech on Tuesday night, “The magic happens when the technology disappears.”

[Editor’s Note: Digital Projection is also introducing its Insight Laser 4K, a combination of solid-state laser illumination and 4K native resolution.]

Complicated Programming Becomes Easier. Crestron recently released its new integrated classrooms system packages claiming that no programming is required for the system.

“Now, you can quickly and easily install a complete integrated classroom, with absolutely no programming required. Get up and running right from the touch screen by answering a few simple questions about your system,” stated Crestron’s press release.

Does this sound too good to be true? These systems are shipping now, and if successful, I bet we could see some packages on the residential side with similar features. I don’t think this would work for a complicated system, but maybe as a one-room system sold with a specific set of lights, remote, receiver, and an app. We’ve already seen Sony and Control4 partner, as well as others. We’ve seen Apple murmur a tidbit of information about HomeKit; it isn’t crazy to think that automation for the masses is close.

Join the Cause. If you’ve seen any of the AMX advertising, it is covered with a call to action to “Join the Cause.” This is an appeal to make technology easier and bring it to the masses. They’re doing this through their programming (sounds a lot like what Crestron is doing, doesn’t it?) and the ability to make the meeting easier than ever before.

How will their technologies trickle down? How about an information hub in the kitchen by turning any flat panel into a personal digital signage piece for your family? This could include daily and weekly weather, RSS feeds, and even a Google Calendar. Instead of looking up if the kids have gym or a baseball game, the information would come to you and the rest of your brood. I personally love this idea and hope it will become reality.

4K Video. Oh course… Yes, we are seeing 4K everywhere at the show. It is being matrixed, extended, and shown in larger-than-life proportions. Now all we need is some content before this resolution can really take off in the home.

Larger-than-life 4K video walls at InfoComm 2014

Home Huddle Rooms. Huddle rooms (another name for a small meeting space) are abundant, and can be found in countless booths. Could we someday see a family huddle room where we can Facetime or Skype with grandma? Why not bring our beautiful flat screens to the next level? Not only would we be able to check in with our aging parents, but also parents could check in with their college kids, and family could once again be together at the holidays. This technology already exists on the corporate level, and could be coming to a home near you.

It is only mid afternoon on day one here at the show, yet the booths and aisles are packed (just try finding a seat at lunch). If you have started to explore the world of commercial or that gray area in between, this show is certainly worth checking out.