CEDIA’S Tech Council Predicts the Future, Part 10

Ed Wenck | Oct 17, 2016

Dave Pedigo, CEDIA’s Senior Director of Emerging Technologies, and 16 volunteers created the CEDIA Technology Council, a group that discusses advances in technology on a regular basis. The group uses their combined knowledge to attempt to make concrete predictions regarding what’s next in the smart home industry. Over the last several weeks, we’ve been sharing (and trying to unpack) their list of 100 predictions for the year 2020. We’ve arrived at the last ten — and we’ll learn why the folks who are reading this have never been more important.

Prediction 91. Over-the-air antennas make a strong comeback. This relates directly to the Council’s Prediction No. 72, “ATSC 3.0 will bring 4K as well as immersive and interactive audio into the home, distributed via Wi-Fi.” Again, imagine a lot of data pouring into the home via that antenna, funneled through a gateway and then delivered to a myriad of devices. Cable execs are already imagining that — and it’s keeping them up at night.

Prediction 92. Residential networks will become completely multi-access-point unified. “Most access points are designed for a certain amount of square foot coverage,” explains Nathan Holmes, Tech Council member and trainer for Access Networks. “When you expand beyond 12 to 1500 square feet, you’re past the capacity of a single access point. Access points are not designed to work together in a unified way. You essentially have multiple wireless networks on the same property,” and that’s something that’s going to create connectivity issues — unless you use a mesh network or some other software-driven unifier of those access points. Unlike a simple repeater or Wi-Fi extender, the kinds of unified access points you see in the corporate universe are now coming to a residence near you.

Prediction 93. Many homes will eclipse a Class C network requiring VLAN configuration or IPv6 adoption. “Technically, you can have 255 devices communicating with each other on what they call a Class C network,” notes Holmes — but immediately points out that when only one device is talking at a time — which is what happens — there’s a ton of latency that suddenly pops up. The Internet of Things means that All Your Stuff trying to communicate and be communicated with will render that Class C network about as stable as train trestle made out of balsa wood. Of course, that all becomes moot anyway when a home’s devices simply run out of addresses. Solution 1: Divide the network into smaller groups — VLANs. Solution 2: Help us find more addresses, IPv6 — you’re our only hope. (This seems like a really good time to plug CEDIA’s next Advanced Networking Boot Camp. Register here. You’re welcome.)

Prediction 94. The new wireless spectrum allocation will impact the U.S. market. “The 5G network is coming down the pipeline,” says Holmes. “The amount of through-put that it provides is being sought after by these manufacturers that want to hold people in their own ecosystems.” Consistent connectivity means you’ll stay with one plan provider for your smartphone — and maybe a lot of other devices, too.

Prediction 95. NBASE-T connectivity will allow significantly greater speeds over copper cabling in the home. Nope, copper ain’t dead. The NBASE-T Alliance (which likely would’ve been appropriated by George Lucas as a rebel fighter wing group if it had been around in the mid-‘70s) sums things up nicely on their promo-heavy homepage. TL;DR? 2.5 Gbps and up is available without a cable upgrade.

Prediction 96. Cat 5e is insufficient for new home construction; Cat 6a is the de facto. This one’s really simple: IoT = lots of data.

As systems become more connected, become smarter, behave — and misbehave — like living, breathing things, those networks need specialists.

Prediction 97. Your OS will travel with you wherever you go (in your car, your home, your office — even places you’re just visiting). The “ubiquitous OS” was imagined in a recent, critically acclaimed film:

The way Theodore's smart phone and its earpiece work is different from ours, and soon it becomes clear that "Her" is something of a science-fiction film, set in the not-too-distant but distinctly fantastic future. … The futuristic premise sets the stage for an unusual love story: one in which Theo, still highly damaged and sensitive over the breakup of his marriage …  falls in love with the artificially intelligent operating system of his computer.

--Glenn Kenny’s review of the film Her (2013) at rogerebert.com

That dovetails into:

Prediction 98. CEDIA members will curate an individual’s technology interactions 24/7/365 regardless of physical location (as in, beyond the home). Connected wearables communicating with connected cars and houses? As we step beyond Graphical User Interface and Voice User Interface, GUI and VUI, the combination of micro-cameras and mics everywhere will bring us No User Interface, NOUI. The planet imagined in Her will certainly take the OS beyond the devices that the title character is constantly monitoring — that operating system will go mobile, floating via the cloud from device to device. The interactions that make up NOUI, as we noted in this recap of a chat from Josh.AI’s Alex Capecelatro at CEDIA 2016:

[NOUI] isn’t a “none of the above” proposition — rather, it’s ALL of the above, and a bunch of things we’ve yet to mention.

NOUI imagines a universe that anticipates your actions after learning your habits. If your home knows you need the kitchen light to come on when you come home — and can recognize that it’s you and you alone in your household who desires that particular function — that’s a really simple illustration of the NOUI concept in action.

Dave Pedigo takes the concept further:

“Currently, we need to make conscious decisions and movements to interact with technology. Want to turn the lights on? Most people walk to a wall and flip a switch. Ultimately, technology will become invisible to the consumer. As Dr. Michio Kaku stated at the CEDIA keynote a few years ago, ‘[technology] will be everywhere and nowhere.’”

Which means:

Prediction 99: Virtual tech support becomes the norm in homes. It’s one thing to take that prediction as a given, but: “It becomes critical to understand what those options are,” says Tech Council guru Holmes[HK5]. Yep, for a long time, “tech support” was something Holmes’ integration firm — like many others — offered. But when it comes to networks that have advanced well beyond even systems that were commonplace, say, 18 months prior to the present, the need for a specialized, troubleshooting help desk (or automated system) that can fix a homeowner’s issue will spawn a robust market segment dedicated to residential IT.

Which brings us to The Big Reveal at the End:


OK, we’re joking. There’s no spoiler here — the men and women of the CEDIA Tech Council closed out their Big List of Future Goodness with something that’s got to be obvious at this point.

Prediction 100. The integrator is more valuable than they’ve ever been. Shelly Palmer, adviser to C-Suites throughout the tech industry, a regular commenter and analyst on U.S. cable news outlets, and one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices of Technology, said in his keynote address at CEDIA 2016 that the integrator, the home technology professional, will be the “architects of man/machine partnerships.”

That talent, that skill set, that bucket of knowledge that constantly needs to be emptied and refilled as new tech replaces old, will be even more integral to the building and renovation of the 21st-century home than carpenters or plumbers. As systems become more connected, become smarter, behave — and misbehave — like living, breathing things, those networks need specialists. And if you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re one of those specialists, poised to lead the next leap into worlds we’ve yet to even imagine.