CEDIA was a blast this year! High energy and enthusiasm abounded around the San Diego Convention Center. California is a great place to host CEDIA, and I can’t wait for a repeat experience next year. While there were plenty of great new products and demos, all of it seemed iterative vs. transformative.
We may be reaching a golden time in our industry where the technology begins to get out of the way, leaving us more time to focus on delivering excellent customer experiences vs. worrying about rebooting systems and usability. I thought it fitting to begin an annual tradition of forecasting the year ahead based on the show. I promise to re-visit this blog next year and do an objective tear down while doing the same forecast for 2019. Here are seven main themes I spotted at the show and will be re-orienting my business accordingly.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) — CEDIA 2017’s opening keynote focused on the “Internet of Intelligent Things” (IoIT) vs. our current slate of sensors that don’t do much for us without being told to. We’re not far off from seeing control systems start to help us by automating routine tasks and truly assisting us with our daily lives by observing our behaviors using as many data points as possible. Companies like josh.ai and Visualint are already in our industry moving rapidly toward this point, but we’re still at a point where there aren’t ANY AI solutions in the CI space. Watch for that to change in the year ahead. I predict at least one compelling AI use case scenario (shorthand term for a compelling product use) by next year’s CEDIA show.
2. Voice — This category is a cliché at this point, but it’s worth mentioning as we start to see the CI world embrace the power of Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. Watch for more products like this year’s debut of the Valet amplifier by Origin Acoustics. Our industry will begin developing more accessories and products leveraging the Voice User Interface (VUI) in the same manner we all did when Apple began driving digital music adoption in 2001 with the iPod.
3. The Front Door — I can’t believe we’re still talking about this one, but look for 2018 to finally put this conversation to bed. Why is it so complicated to answer your front door from anywhere and have it work seamlessly with a control system or VUI? With the introduction of the Echo Show (Amazon’s new video intercom solution), we now have perfect use case for someone ringing the front door (“Alexa, who’s at the front door?”) The Echo Show only works with Arlo and Ring cameras for now. The year ahead will bring the rest along.
4. Our Homes Begin to Hear, Speak, and See — If 2017 saw us installing Echo Dots or Google Homes in all our rooms (giving the room ears and a mouth), 2018 will begin delivering small screens like the Echo Show in more rooms (giving the room eyes - a little creepy, but with plenty of cool applications). Each of these VUI devices will need plenty of great audio, video and automation solutions installed to make them sing.
5. Lighting & Shading — Who knew our industry would embrace lighting design and selling fixtures to complement the lighting control systems we’ve been installing for years? Companies like Colorbeam, Coastal Source, Holm, and Lutron were front and center at CEDIA 2017 telling a compelling story: there’s margin in light fixtures and they’ll help train dealers to be successful. In another cool twist, it’s great to see Screen Innovations throwing their hat in the ring with another take on motorized shading catering to the complexity pain point many dealers feel when deciding whether or not to get into a product line which involves very detailed measurements and can result in very expensive mistakes. Watch for the year ahead to contain more pathways for dealers to become proficient at specifying and selling lighting and shading solutions.
6. Amazon — They had a corner booth right in the middle of the action, two keynotes, and they sponsored all the CEDIA training. Love ’em or hate ’em, Amazon isn’t going anywhere. They launched their new Home Services category restricted to CEDIA certified companies. It’s a step in the right direction, allowing a category beyond the $115 TV Hang services they offer currently but hot button topics like high commission rates (Amazon wants anywhere from 10-20 percent based on the service) and wariness by CEDIA members promise to make the year ahead chock full of Amazon Home Services updates.
7. Remote Managed Services — If the last 30 days are any indication, this category is heating up. Newcomers Axius and Krika Concierge are poised to establish a foothold in this growing market segment. The year ahead will see more CEDIA members considering the prospect of letting a professional services business handle their support issues much the same way a central station monitors alarm systems.
I feel good about my predictions, but only time will tell. In the meantime, I’m choosing to be proactive and doing things like signing up for the Amazon Home Services program to try it out. What do you think the year ahead will bring? Post YOUR predictions in the comments.
Stay frosty and see you in the field.