Day One at the CEDIA® 2017 Booth was exceptionally busy, featuring a robust slate of CEDIA Talks (20-minute presentations that have been described as “mini-TED-talks”) and other presentations. Here’s a few highlights:
Sam Woodward of Lutron on lighting. In his Talk “Fear the Dark Side, Do Not! Expand Your Empire with Lighting Controls,” Woodward brought some amazing stats to the table – did you know that candles are still a worldwide business worth $8.5 billion dollars? Woodward – energetic and entertaining – quickly pivoted to the present and the future in his presentation, noting that the successful integrator will soon realize that they’re not selling “solutions” or “technology” – they’re selling something Woodward calls “pleasance.”
That term – “pleasant convenience” on its face – expands beyond the two terms Woodward’s mashed together. It’s about achieving the keys for success as lighting morphs from one central fixture in a room with a single binary circuit to LED-majority-load systems, already so popular in Europe, that are making their way Stateside. Those systems must match the client’s aesthetic aspirations (Woodward even collects photos of “ugly switches”), do what the user expects intuitively with the proper controls, and provide a level of convenience whether that means motion-sensors for hands-free activation or geofencing solutions. Finally, Woodward asks the integrator to consider this: Can you operate the system in the dark?
Joe Whitaker of The Thoughtful Home on guerilla marketing. Whitaker crated quite a buzz with a targeted tactic that’s come to be known as the “Dot Drop.” Whitaker combed some neighborhoods where he’d had success, noted the homes that seemed in need of a technology update (“If a house had a ten-year-old surveillance camera …”) and left behind a pricey business card on several doorsteps: an Amazon Echo Dot complete with Whitaker’s contact info.
The gambit worked: Whitaker saw an initial investment of about $1,000 bring in a $50,000 job nearly immediately. It’s part of Whitaker’s overall mantra: “Don’t do what your competitors do. Get out of your comfort zone. There’s more business out there than you realize.”
Whitaker’s partnered with restaurants – yes, restaurants – to advertise his services. “Wi-Fi services provided by The Thoughtful Home” is a message displayed on the digital platforms of several James-Beard-recognized eateries he’s worked with. To be sure, though, not everything Whitaker’s tried has yielded positive results. “It’s tough, but if a campaign or a partnership’s not working, you’ve gotta learn when to pull the plug,” he cautions.
Rich Green on AR/VR/MR. Rich Green – who’s been a CEDIA volunteer and integrator par excellence for literally decades – has a simple way to sum up the magic of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technologies. It’s presence – allowing one to be present at any distance, at any time, regardless of physical location. Whether that means pulling on a pair of goggles or, better yet, wandering around in a 360-degree artificial (as in “generated via video”) environment constructed by projections on walls or some other technology, creating that immersive, otherworldly experience is something that the big firms are betting on.
Soon we’ll be watching NFL games in much the same manner that Chewie and Obi-Wan viewed their alien chessboard full of predatory critters. Imagine watching a post play develop in a 3D image right on your coffee table (move the snacks, please). But the applications go well beyond entertainment – virtual whiteboards can add wall-space to offices with open plans, and glasses that include heads-up data on speed and miles turned will make data-checks while bicycling safer than ever.
The immersive virtual experience will eventually extend to all five senses, according to Green – there’s even a device that can record and reproduce aromas. That family vacation among the pines or the seashore can even be remembered with a smell.
Laura Mitchell on “Analog Aging in a Digital World.” Here’s a stunner: Two-thirds of all those people 65 and over who have ever lived on Earth are alive right now. What’s more, 111 million people in the US are over 50, and of those who are officially becoming “seniors” – retirees who either will or currently need some kind of care or health monitoring – 90% say they want to live at home.
Living at home is more than comfortable – it’s cost effective for their adult children. That “sandwich generation” – tasked with caring for both parents and children – will soon learn that the cost of care, having jumped overall 63% since 1997, is especially expensive when an elder needs regular monitoring. (Add another issue to the mix; there’s a caregiver shortage in the U.S.)
There’s an equation here: fear of the “old folks’ home” + massive expenditures = huge opportunities in the near future for integrators. Mitchell, now a consultant with a background in “smart care,” is an evangelist for what she calls “Proactive Predictive Preventative Care” – think of the difference between an airbag and a seatbelt in your car – better to prevent a health crisis (the belt) than to deal with one in the moment (the bag).
For more on these Talks, check out CEDIA’s Tech Council Podcast, Episode 21 – additionally, all the Talks in their entirety are being uploaded to CEDIA’s YouTube Channel.