Radicals will storm the CEDIA convention with new ideas to shake up the custom-install status quo, but the radicals won't be wearing bandanas or hoisting placards.
Instead, custom-installation radicals will be wearing pocket protectors, and they'll be hoisting products that they hope will make installers as familiar with the term TCP/IP as they are with S/PDIF.
New and established custom-install install suppliers here are joining IT-industry start-ups in adopting Ethernet and Internet Protocol (IP) technologies to distribute audio and video throughout the house. Their intent is to leverage the technologies' economies of scale, stability and flexibility while offering systems with more expansion capabilities and less cost than other systems. They're also designed to simplify installation and programming by using IP-addressable components, including in-wall keypads, that are automatically recognized by the network and can be connected in series without home-running wires from each device back to the main system.
The systems achieve these goals by transporting audio and video over an Ethernet network. Other systems use wired or wireless Ethernet networks only for system control.
The technologies also give consumers the flexibility to use remote PCs; in-home PCs; and wireless-802.11-equipped Web pads, Tablet PCs and PDAs to control distributed-A/V systems and other home subsystems.
Some suppliers, notably Sonos and Control4, are using the technologies, particularly 802.11 wireless-network technology, to broaden the customer base for distributed-audio and home-control systems to less-wealthy consumers. Because of wireless's easy-retrofit nature, these systems are also positioned as expanding the market to consumers who aren't building new homes.
Suppliers unveiling new Ethernet-based and TC/PIP-based products include Crestron, Equity's iCommand, Imerge, Leviton, Meda Systems, NetStreams, Polk, Sonos and Viewsonic (see story above).