JJ’s Takeaways from CEDIA 2011

Dedicated touchscreens are back, LED lighting is hot, Cat 5 is king, motorized shades are for the masses ... and other top trends from CEDIA Expo 2011

JJ’s Takeaways from CEDIA 2011
Affordable motorized shades, one-wire technology, LED lighting and dedicated touchscreens topped the trends at CEDIA 2011.
Julie Jacobson · November 14, 2011

CEDIA Expo 2011 was two months ago, but the innovations from the event are still fresh. While there were some mind-blowing products like Sony’s affordable 4K projector, there were also some more modest developments that signify industry trends:

Return of the touchscreens

iPad and Android tablets were all over the show floor, as usual, but that doesn’t signify the end of the dedicated touchscreen. Seems they’re actually enjoying a comeback, even in the middle market.

Both Control4 and URC introduced new 7-inch touchpanels that look like sleek tablets but act like home controllers

The Control4 unit, which includes video intercom capabilities, will retail for about $1,000 and many dealers think they can sell it. One of them comments, “This touchpanel is perfect. The $1,000 price point is awesome. Good luck using an iPad for intercom.”

URC’s Secret New iPad-Looking Touchscreen for Home Control
The Big To-do Over $999 Portable Touchscreen from Control4

LEDs are hot – or not (get it?)

Never before have we seen so much enthusiasm for LED lighting and controllers.

Colored LEDs from Stewart Filmscreen enhance an outdoor movie venue

Several CEDIA newcomers demonstrated colorful fixtures, and traditional lighting companies like Lutron showed new flicker-free technologies that enhance the performance of those quirky lights. LEDs even are coming from unusual sources, such as Stewart Filmscreen (left), which continues to build its line of lights that bring big screens to life.

So the big question is: how will these LEDs – especially the colored ones – be controlled?

Several companies touted DMX, the popular commercial standard for controlling colored LEDs, but others like nuLEDs dismiss the technology for home use.

Co-founder Lisa Isaacson says, “The future in our industry is serial control for LED lighting. This is the language our integrators speak.”

VIDEO: Lutron Demos High-Tech LED Lighting, Controls
iSKY LED lighting strips and DMX controller (and then: iSky Closes Doors)
Best Demo at CEDIA? Color LEDs Synced with Video

Cat 5 is king

In January, we touted one-wire (Cat 5) technology as one of the Top 5 Home Technology Opportunities for 2011. At last, we have the opportunity to distribute high-quality A/V, control signals, data and sometimes power over a single Cat 5 cable. In January, we cited the emergence of HDBaseT and the perfection of A/V over IP (with NetStreams and Just Add Power), plus SpeakerCraft’s new Nirv system that taps the commercially popular CobraNet platform.

Well, Nirv is finally in the field and the early results are positive. “Given that Nirv has less than ten pieces of hardware to choose from, it is incredibly simple to design a system in a fraction of the time,” says one of the first installers, Brad Sundberg of BSUN Media Systems in Fairhope, Ala.

Although HDBaseT has failed to penetrate the mass market, the group did announce several new specialty implementers including Vantage Controls. Plus, there’s a new kid in town—Audio Video Bridging (AVB)—which is being adopted by mainstream component manufacturers at a rapid pace. Stay tuned for a feature story on that.

One-Wire Technology is the Next Great Retrofit Opportunity
SpeakerCraft Makes Radical Improvements to Nirv GUI
SpeakerCraft at CEDIA: All Speakers, Some Nirv
HDBaseT Alliance to Demo Multi-Device Home Entertainment at CEDIA 2011

Made in the shade

Anyone who has (or sells) motorized shades – and those like myself who covet them – understand that they are a killer app for energy management, aesthetics, convenience and so much more. But they have long been the most expensive element, by far, of an automated home.

Finally, we’re seeing some movement (get it?) in the category. Somfy, whose motors are used in the majority of motorized shades, recently introduced the very affordable Tahoma control system that lets window guys and home systems integrators actually lead with the shades sale.

Of course, Lutron famously introduced at CEDIA its affordable line of battery-operated cellular shades, which opens up vast new opportunities to traditional integrators and window shading specialists.

Lutron’s Battery-Powered Shades: This Changes Everything
Somfy Tahoma: Could Motorized Shades Drive Home Automation?

Tweep city

Although I missed several of my favorite #avtweeps at CEDIA—@jmota3 in particular—I was lucky enough to spend time with @rfregosa. How about we do something big at #EHX12, March 15-17 in Orlando? It would be the treat of @ce_pro and @juliejacobson.

  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

Blogs · AVB · CEDIA · Control4 · DMX · HDBaseT · LED · All Topics
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