Show Preview: Three Big Debates in Home Automation at CEDIA EXPO 2014


By Olivia Sellke, CEDIA. We all have opinions about the best way to do home automation. Each company has manufacturers it prefers and ...

Olivia SellkeBy Olivia Sellke, CEDIA. We all have opinions about the best way to do home automation. Each company has manufacturers it prefers and products that are its preferred choice. I have been party to more than one heated debate revolving around the benefits of one control system over another – and those debates tend to end the same way; the participants agreeing to disagree and continuing to use the system they were ‘fighting for’ convinced now more than ever of its merits. [caption id="attachment_6042" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Heated debates over home automation systems are common. Heated debates over home automation systems are common.[/caption] Debates on home automation are nothing new to this industry, but some recent debates have less to do with one system over another and more about the available solutions, or even perceived threat, to what we do. You have probably seen some of these debates gaining momentum – but let us offer another perspective on three debates we have seen recently that happen to be interconnected. Wireless Automation Solutions It used to be the case that wireless solutions for home automation did not exist, and many integrators earned a good proportion of their cheque running wires in new home builds. As the housing market slowed and dipped, fewer new home builds were happening and the demand for retrofit options began to pick up. Even then, integrators would work to find creative cabling solutions that did not involve tearing out walls completely. What retrofit also paved the way for was wireless solutions. Many integrators see this as a threat, a DIY-specific threat. Certainly some of these new devices lower the point of entry for homeowners to have what they think is a connected home, but as soon as they start scaling up, snags will hit as each system lives within its own little silo. Of course there will be technically-savvy DIY people who can make a system 'work' – but integrators have the unique ability to create a user experience. And that is something you can and should be charging for! Commoditised Home Automation Recent announcements in the home automation category may have you sweating. There are some big players making moves into the market - players with huge advertising budgets to catch those consumer eyeballs. But you know what? They are really not a threat. For sure, big companies can deliver an out-of-the-box option that works, but can that system work across all platforms out of the box? Heck no! Is that part of their 'solution' advertised? Heck no! Again, this is where you can come in and provide a service that people would be willing to pay for, versus wasting hours upon hours on installing their own rigged system that does not deliver a consistent experience. [caption id="attachment_6043" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Out-of-the-box options do not always work across all platforms. Out-of-the-box options do not always work across all platforms.[/caption] Multi-Application Home Control Is anyone else sick of hearing the phrase 'There's an app for that'? Just because it is true does not make it any less annoying. The fact remains that nearly every manufacturer has an app to accompany their product and it is not widely different to 10, 15, or 20 years ago when every product had its own remote. Manufacturers have taken time to make robust apps that are tested, vetted and provide a native environment that is more intuitive for users. Some argue that a multi-application approach is cumbersome and provides the user with a broken, disjointed experience. Proponents of the multi-application approach like to point out that unless the devices that are controlled by the apps need to talk to one another, there is no issue, especially with the evolution of app APIs opening up. So where do you fall in these debates? Do you need more information, are you unsure, and do want to talk to the experts? The good news is that there is a class on each of these topics at CEDIA EXPO 2014. Readers of HiddenWires can enjoy free trade show access by using the code HW14, and early-bird discounts of 40% off on training are available until 18 July 2014. Olivia Sellke is the Communications Manager for CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association). CEDIA is the leading global authority in the US$14 billion home technology industry. Built upon a strong volunteer foundation, CEDIA provides access to industry-leading education, certification, research, and consumer awareness, and has an annual expo that attracts visitors from around the world. CEDIA EXPO 2014 will be held at the Colorado Convention Center September 10-13, show floor open from September 11-13. Registration for CEDIA EXPO is now open at the website below. Readers of HiddenWires can enjoy complimentary trade show floor access with the guest pass code: HW14. www.cedia.net/expo