05.03.14

Interview: Robin Van Meeuwen, Crestron

Robin-Van-Meeuwen

Robin van Meeuwen is Vice President of Crestron International in the EMEA region and has been with Crestron for over 17 years. For 40 yea...

Robin van Meeuwen largeRobin van Meeuwen is Vice President of Crestron International in the EMEA region and has been with Crestron for over 17 years. For 40 years, Crestron has been a leading manufacturer of advanced control and automation systems, innovating technology to simplify and enhance modern lifestyles and businesses. Offering integrated solutions to control audio, video, computer, and environmental systems, Crestron streamlines technology, improving the quality of life in commercial buildings, universities, hotels, hospitals and homes. In this exclusive interview with HiddenWires, Robin gives his take on the home control market, and makes the case for specifying high-end systems. Q: What is your perspective on the residential custom install market at the moment? A: The residential market is very fragmented at the moment. There are very few large installers, but these tend to have a clear pipeline in their business; and there are a lot of smaller installers, but these tend to create bespoke systems for each client, starting from scratch on every project. I liken this to building a car from scratch for each customer. The installer chooses the chassis, the engine, the dashboard, the interior, and the exterior panels, and builds a car for each customer. This is not an efficient process, and doesn't always guarantee a smooth, reliable ride! Residential installers see themselves as consultants where they pick and choose what they feel is the right solution, but if they were to standardise the products they chose, the result would often be a better, more efficient job, a happy customer, and more money! Q: What excites you at the moment? A: I see a lot of opportunities ahead. It is clear that the market is really picking up again, and many end-users understand the need for home technology - not just as an entertainment or lifestyle technology, but as a necessity. There are many choices, with Crestron recognised as being at the high-end of the market. Q: What are the challenges facing the market? A: More and more devices are being placed on the network - the 'Internet of Things'. In the past, integration with HVAC systems, security systems, door locks, etc was done on a simple I/O level (relays and digital inputs/outputs), and was therefore capable of very few functions. Today, more and more home systems and appliances are opening up to the network and sharing more information which can be used to interact on many levels. Systems tend to be developed as separate islands, and while the information from one system could be useful to others, unfortunately, there is no general standard, so the challenge remains in the integration. Given the richness of information becoming available on the network, if systems can be truly integrated, homes could become very smart indeed, and really help us day-to-day, making life easier and more comfortable. In terms of weaknesses, there are too many lower-end systems available that claim they can do the same as higher-end products, and such systems also do not have the level of quality and high-end support that is crucial to the home market. This can be misleading for homeowners, and can result in a missed opportunity for the installer. After all, who wants to come home and get frustrated that their system isn't working as it should be, or even not working at all, because of an inferior product and/or an insufficiently-trained installer? Q: What is your strategy in helping the market to develop? A: Crestron's strategy has always been to support our dealers in every way possible. Recently we opened our Chelsea showroom which helps our dealers show their customers what it means to use Crestron in a high-end residential environment. This, coupled with a dedicated sales team that is developing the business with end users, interior designers, architects, and developers, is really an important part of the education process of building this industry for our partners. On top of that, to help facilitate a smooth transition to 4K UHD, Crestron is introducing its 4K Certification programme. Under this industry-first programme, manufacturers can submit their 4K sources and displays to Crestron to ensure that they deliver true 10Gb/s data rates to get the signal to its destination; interface with Crestron DigitalMedia to handle the cable lengths found in integrated AV systems; and work with other 4K products in a DigitalMedia system. Compatibility issues between different brands, new cable length limitations and mismatched resolutions all have the potential to compromise a 4K distribution system, so Crestron 4K Certification is our guarantee that sources and displays meet the demands of a 4K distributed system. This is why Crestron engineers in the DigitalMedia Lab rigorously test 4K products to ensure they work in a matrix-switched environment. Only those that do are awarded the Crestron 4K Certified logo. Q: How do you keep in touch with the market? A: Crestron is known to be proactive in developing solutions that meet current market demands, so it is very important for us to have a high profile at trade shows in order to show the trade our newest developments and products. Trade shows are also a perfect place to stay connected with our integrators throughout the EMEA region. Our recent ISE participation has proven to be a great success once more, and it is very important to repeat this success at trade shows in the entire EMEA region such as ISR in Russia, InfoComm Middle East, and Light+Building, CeBIT and Prolight + Sound in Germany etc. Q: What is your favourite technological development at the moment? A: My favourite technological development this year has got to be 4K. Crestron 4K displays are quickly establishing a strong foothold in both professional and consumer markets. However, up until now, video distribution technology was not available to transmit 4K content throughout a home or business, to multiple rooms, or over long distances. When it comes to emerging video distribution technology in the digital arena, once again, Crestron is taking the lead, this time with the first complete 4K solution. Q: Where do you see the industry being in a year's time? A: I see the adoption of home technology spreading more widely as specifiers such as interior designers, architects, house builders etc become more educated about its benefits. The big message will be that technology should be integrated in the whole interior design. Q: What is your advice to the industry? A: It is clear that people are very interested in home technology and this has become a necessity rather than a luxury. So my advice is, do not be afraid to sell high-end solutions because quality is crucial to the end-user. As an industry, we need to translate technological features into a language that the customer feels comfortable with by explaining the benefits the system brings, and how technology and design can be perfect partners! Robin van Meeuwen is the Vice President of Crestron International, a leading provider of control and automation systems. www.crestron.eu Comments on this article are welcome. See below.