CEDIA Expo — the gathering of people passionate about all things audio/video, home control, and electronics — ran September 6 – 9 at the San Diego Convention Center, and what an event it was. A perfect location with perfect weather, and next year is slated for the same place. CEDIA activities were many, with more than 140 educational sessions, up 40 percent from last year, and three keynotes, up from one last year. CEDIA sold the show to Emerald Expositions earlier in the year, and this was CEDIA management’s swan song for overseeing show logistics, but they will maintain management and delivery of education at future Expos.

Hot product categories at the show included motorized shades in many sleek, easy-to-install, and inexpensive models; door locks, some with cameras, and video doorbells; Wi-Fi devices for in-ceiling and mesh Wi-Fi; and network security appliances to ward off cyber-threats. There were lighting controls and smart bulbs, along with energy equipment for storage, power quality, and monitoring and management of electricity use. Practically all of these products are accompanied by apps for smart devices, an essential feature for any new product entering this market. Business services also had a significant showing, such as services to find temp workers and facilitate hiring, management of billing and invoicing, warranty servicing, end-user tech support, and recurring revenue opportunities such as SHaaS (Smart Home as a Service).

Audio/video and home theater, CEDIA’s mainstays, were also widespread with components, speakers, and packaged systems all over the show floor that embrace digital processing and aesthetics guaranteed to delight, along with design and documentation services that give dealers the confidence to offer and deliver custom-engineered theaters and systems. There were even very high-end turnkey home theater systems at $250,000 or $500,000 by Rayva. For a recap of the super high-end for the A/V geek, check out AV Nirvana’s report.  https://www.avnirvana.com/threads/av-nirvanas-official-cedia-2017-show-report.1386

Enhanced displays and projectors now meld into the environment. Consider “The Frame” by Samsung (similar models offered by others including Sony) — a 4K UHD smart TV, mounted flush on the wall like a painting, displaying a professionally curated selection of artwork and/or your own photos when not in use. If this art gallery mode isn’t enough to help the TV disappear, it comes with a 16 ft. (49 ft., available) fiber optic cable for near-invisible connection. Short throw projectors shown by Sony (their model even fits in a furniture piece placed flush with the wall under the screen), Hisense, and Epson (affordable at $3,000) allow for easy, and retrofit, installation.

Almost everything showcased is network-enabled for management, control, and convenience — highlighting the rapid growth of the Internet of Things. According to the opening keynote given by Dave Evans, CTO and co-founder of Stringify, 200 new devices are connected to the Internet every second, and these IoT devices are generating massive amounts of information. It’s all about the data (see related article “How Big Data Can Affect Your Strategy,” at www.SDMmag.com/articles/93501-how-big-data-can-affect-your-strategy), and when combined with machine learning, this data analysis can provide impressive solutions to complex problems. In a split-second AI, artificial intelligence, can recognize a person, identify their pulse rate from a series of images, or translate text in a photograph in real time. Evans predicts the smart home is quickly transforming into the intelligent home, and Miles Kingston, general manager, Smart Home Group at Intel, agrees, saying, “Home needs to emulate human senses.”

Arriving at the CEDIA education sessions, it was curious to see Amazon as the official sponsor of CEDIA Education and Certification. The light bulb went off when I attended the Amazon-sponsored keynote by Sarah Zenz, general manager of Amazon’s Smart Home Services. The disruptive announcement that stunned the audience is that Amazon and CEDIA are working together to build consumer awareness, offer easy purchase of smart home services, and provide efficient fulfillment to both dealers and consumers. This fall, Amazon is launching a website featuring Integrator Services and it will link from www.amazon.com/services where there is already a category called Home Security offering camera, video doorbell, and smart lock installation. Amazon will offer exclusive custom services delivered by CEDIA members — the member defines what services they offer, and they must hold three CEDIA certifications. In addition, Amazon will have a Home Technology Pro store where customers can purchase products and services, and Amazon is extending its Amazon Business Fulfillment to CEDIA members enrolled in the program. The win for CEDIA here is the push for their certification and education, CEDIA’s priority since offloading the show’s logistics in the sale to Emerald Expositions. The win for Amazon is they learn about the industry and what their customers want and don’t want. The times, they are a changin’, and whatever you do, it will be worth closely watching how major players enter and participate in the industry.