Early on in the pandemic, Wim de Vos, the brains behind the Spanish firm Genesis Home Technologies noted something interesting: “I looked back at CEDIA’s research and reports from last year and the year before [2019 and 2018, specifically]. There were trends there: more robust networking, cybersecurity, and so on, that haven’t changed at all. The only change? Those trends are accelerating.”
As the world (and especially North America) starts to emerge from more than a year of COVID, those trends have begun to crystallize into opportunities for integrators. Here are three I’m paying attention to:
The Big Guns Want to Play With Each Other – and Integrators, Too
Apple, Amazon, Google and the ZigBee Alliance (now the CSA Alliance – Connectivity Standards Alliance) have come together to create a common language for IoT devices to communicate together formerly called CHIP (Connected Home over IP), and now called Matter. CEDIA’s Senior Director of Technology and Standards Walt Zerbe is bullish on the initiative: “I’m very excited about this progression, as I saw a similar thing happen long ago in the music world called MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), which became a common language shared by all manufacturers of musical and audio equipment. It didn’t hurt anyone because it only grew the pie. It’s only a positive that some walled gardens of technology will be broken down — everyone wins”
Beyond that development, CEDIA’s Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships Ian Bryant has organized a webinar entitled “User Experience Elevated: Integrating Amazon with Top Brands” Amazon’s Touma Hayakawa (Senior Account Representative, Amazon Devices) was joined by Melissa Andresko, Chief Corporate Brand Ambassador at Lutron, and Paul Williams, GM of product management and growth at Savant. There was an integrator aboard, too: Joe Whitaker, owner of the firm Thoughtful Integrations.
The concept: Amazon’s pro solutions can work and play really, really well with Lutron and Savant products to give clients better solutions for their home technology needs. One of those use cases has been a smash for Thoughtful Integrations, according to Bryant: “Joe Whitaker signed up to become a Ring Pro when he signed up for CEDIA Propel and he gets sales leads from Amazon. In fact, his big success story is that he landed a commercial project through the Ring Pro program that got his company a nationwide contract.”
The Immersive Space is a Thing
As Peter Aylett (with the integration firm HTE), a former member of CEDIA’s Board of Directors and Technology Council noted for a webinar (and related post on the association’s blog): “The lockdowns sent golfers inside. Biking machines that can present the rider virtual types of terrain and inclines are selling like crazy. E-sports are getting bigger. Imagine a room that can do all of that – then transition with audio and video to a meditative space perfect for yoga.” Immersive Gym is offering a package solution that just does this.
The gym – which can work with a variety of content, including scenes and dynamic video wraparounds created by both third-party providers and Immersive Gym itself – was a concept that founder Charles Pearce had been kicking around for over a decade. “As recently as five years ago, we probably couldn’t have done this because the quality of the content that you could put through a system wasn’t there. The fact that you can have ultra-short-throw projectors that didn’t cast shadows on walls was another massive consideration.”
“Wellness” Comes in Neat Packages, Too
Entertainment has always been a popular category for the industry, but more and more we are seeing new solutions that aim to improve wellness within the home : Autoslide offers a product line of automated door openers that, according to the company, is a “convenient, and practical solution for everyday inconveniences, but it also [offers] a long awaited necessity for many, including the elderly, physically challenged, and pet owners who are tired of getting up to open the door for their pets to come in and out.” Zuma is an in-ceiling speaker-and-light combo (with an audio solution designed by no less than Laurence Dickie, designer of Bowers & Wilkins’ Nautilus loudspeaker) that can deliver preset scenes of light and sound specifically designed to bring calm and comfort to the end user.
Integrators must be in the practice of hunting out new solutions – but it can often be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you’re looking for the inside scoop on what’s the newest in home technology check out CEDIA’s Propel program (cedia.net/propel). We’ve curated emerging trends, new home tech brands and products that represent fantastic growth opportunities for integrators.
See also: Q&A With Fred Towns, President, New Age Electronics