Passion dominates at every CEDIA Expo, including this year’s event in Denver, held September 12-14. No matter if you love all things audio/video and entertainment-focused, or smart home technology with integrated systems and devices that put you in control, participants are eager to see and learn. Attendees act like kids in a candy store — elated given all the choices, and gleeful smiles appear when shown new products, systems and technologies.
CEDIA training was in full force — offering 125 courses, with 60 new ones, and numerous hands-on sessions and testing for industry certifications. Add to that the many in-depth manufacturer training opportunities to get up-to-speed on the latest and greatest, and attendees returned home with their heads full of knowledge and new ideas.
The trade show seemed somewhat condensed compared with previous events, with drapes in the back sectioning off unused floor space, but booths appeared bigger and better, perhaps a reflection of consolidation in the industry. An estimated 16,000 attendees descended on the city compared with last year’s estimate of 20,000.
Connectivity was ubiquitous; everything has joined the game with gusto — the typical products, audio, video, door locks, lighting, environmental management, security, window treatments, furniture, and automation/control; and new categories such as energy monitoring, data collection and analytics. If it’s not connected or data-related, it’s not relevant.
Software is king; it’s all about making things happen seamlessly and predictively. The IoT is delivered through connected devices and software. Open source and DIY are growing, too. Check out www.home-assistant.io and www.tuya.com.
Power was hot — not just monitoring and delivering clean electricity, but there’s a trend away from AC (alternating current) electricity. DC (direct current) power infrastructure and fixtures for lighting control are available; www.lumencache.com and www.lightbeam.com. Power quality solutions are offered by www.sonnen.com and www.rosewaterenergy.com.
Attention and discussion swirled around biophilia — an innate human desire for connection with nature. It’s real, and there are serious opportunities to bring the nature experience into built environments. Companies will expand to deliver “good living” and wellness. Consider air purification, circadian lighting, aromatherapy, sounds and visuals of nature, all to envelop humans with stimuli and wellness-induced devices. Some players at the show included www.delos.com and www.epicskytech.com.
Last, but definitely not least, two heavily emphasized topics were privacy and simplicity. Privacy is paramount, even more so than in the past, given data collection grows ever more prolific. Cyber security is expected, and with the emergence of edge computing, data handling on-site is evolving, supporting privacy without major cloud activity.
Rapid advancements in technology and integration breed complexity and products can become complicated, but that’s not automatically bad. If it is easy and intuitive — or better yet, predictive and proactive with no interaction required — it can be good. Simplicity is the new mantra. Intuitive user interfaces and data analytics anticipating desired actions can make a world full of highly complex technology much more manageable.
One last thing, support options for integrators saw traction this year. Courses at Expo, employee recruitment, and training options abound to address the workforce issue. Finding and keeping qualified technicians is at the top of every integrator’s list of challenges. Check out www.hdstaffing.com, along with the 16-hour online fast track bundle for new hires at www.bedrocklearning.com or the hands-on boot camp at www.cedia.net. New and creative marketing ideas leverage technological advancements for marketing installation companies. Both www.onefirefly.com and www.bdx.com offer innovative ways to share the story of connected and smart living.
All of these insights provide an opportunity to expand your thinking, explore new opportunities, transform your business and offerings, and to catapult your company and services into a lead position in the 21st century. Leverage all this newfound knowledge to solidify and expand customer relationships you already have by delivering exceptional experiences through enduring win-win relationships and good, honest work.