ISE 2019, Day Three

Ed Wenck | Feb 07, 2019
One of the presentations at the CEDIA booth on Thursday at ISE 2019 was a half-hour review comparing the size and scope of the U.S. and UK home integration markets. Grant Farnsworth (the Farnsworth Group) gave a rapid-fire, info-packed talk that included some notable takeaways:
  • There’s been slow, steady growth in the channel for the last few years – firms on both side of the Atlantic have gotten slightly smaller and somewhat older
  • In the realm of home cinema, U.S. firms build fewer theaters than those in the UK – but American projects are pricier
  • Security is a segment that’s getting big traction in the UK – in 2017, the median number of installs in this category clocked in at 26 projects per firm in Britain versus 15 in the U.S. (with more revenue in the Kingdom per project to boot)
  • However, lighting has finally gotten to be big business in the U.S., with roughly half of firms working on these systems
  • But the biggest challenge for the States is still finding and keeping workers: 29% of firms say it’s a challenge in America, but only 8% of companies said it was an issue for the Brits.
The full UK report will be out soon, but the U.S. version is available now, and both are free to members.

Mass Sensorization

Christiaan Beukes of Sphere Custom (London/South Africa) dug into the impact of Big Data in his CEDIA Talk on mass sensorization. Armed with startling graphics that outlined just how much time the average human is connected via a variety devices – and how much information that can give to advertisers, businesses, insurance providers, and even – gulp – governments, Beukes compared the direction of the connected world to the stalker-y lyrics of the Police hit “Every Breath You Take.”
We’re pulling in so much data, in fact, that the people tasked with measuring all of it are about to run out of zeroes – we’re literally about to break the decimal system. Data is currently being measured in yottabytes (10 to the power of 24 bytes), and next up are brontobytes (which, although it sounds a lot like Fred Flintstone’s favorite happy meal, it’s a term we use to express 10 to the power of 27 bytes. The other word that had been proposed for this whopper of a digit? The even sexier “hellabyte.”)
So what’s the end game here? With all that personal information being shared by the constantly plugged-in human, we could create a utopia of connected humanity that all works together toward a common good – or a dystopian hellscape in which your health provider disallows you from ordering bacon during breakfast because your blood pressure’s up.

In all seriousness, the threat for abuse of this massive amount of data we’re freely sharing with the connected universe is very real, and our notions of privacy – not to mention free will – could be easily shattered in the near future.

WiFi 6

In the last CEDIA Talk of the day, Geoff Meads (Presto Web Design) explained the benefits of “WiFi 6,” which is a rebranding of the 802.11ax standard. (Similarly, 802.11n becomes “WiFi 4” and 802.11ac will be renamed “WiFi 5.” Look for the digits coming to an icon ona connected device near you.)
As you’re likely aware, the range of frequencies on which devices can operate is limited to a narrow swath that’s been designated as “free to air” by governments – you don’t need to pay for a license between 2.4 and 5 GHz. The trade off? Your power’s limited. Add a massive amount of traffic to that bandwidth, and trouble’s afoot.
5G might solve some issues, but it’s got its own problems: namely, its range is fairly limited and the average home won’t run out and buy a batch of new devices. WiFi 6 is an efficient use of present residential gear – for example, there’s a technique called “beamforming” that 6 can implement: using multiple directional antennas (instead of spreading a signal everywhere, like a radio tower) it can “direct a beam” to a specific point.
There are a myriad of other ways that WiFi 6 creates a more stable signal for the residential user, but Meads saved the best news for last: It’s shipping now.