Kramer Wins ISE 2015 with K-Touch Commercial Control by iRule
iRule, maker of IP-centric home automation systems, powers the new and complete K-Touch KT3 command/control/collaboration system from commercial A/V distribution leader Kramer.
Julie Jacobson · February 12, 2015
iRule and its sister company On Controls for the professional installation channel is a newish and growing home automation provider with inexpensive software to power some of the most demanding applications.
But iRule has been crossing over into commercial markets. For example, the company scored big with Magnolia stores last year and soon will be controlling the entire Best Buy campus in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.
Now iRule has its greatest opportunity ever in the commercial space via a new partnership with Kramer Electronics, a leading provider of audio/video distribution systems for commercial venues.
For a few years, Kramer has offered a basic K-Touch A/V control system for installations that required a modest amount of control but didn’t warrant a full-fledged system like Crestron or AMX.
Now Kramer doesn’t just want to offer K-Touch as a convenience to integrators. The Israel-based company wants to own the commercial automation business.
As such, it teamed with iRule to create a system that controls commercial environments including lighting, HVAC, communications, A/V and more.
Introduced at ISE 2015, the new K-Touch v3.0 (KT3) system includes a small networked control hub running a highly customized version of iRule, as well as a cloud-based service for integrating systems worldwide – as many Kramer users require.
Previously, K-Touch comprised a mess of serial controllers. Now it’s basically a network hub and the cloud.
Aviv Ron, VP business and strategy for Kramer notes that the major control systems manufacturers started encroaching on Kramer’s A/V distribution business years ago, giving integrators the “incentive to buy everyone from one vendor.”
Ron says Kramer now is “leapfrogging the competition” with the new KT3, which it hopes will obviate the need for third-party controllers.
He says he talked to “everyone” in the control business before selecting iRule because “we liked the flexibility and their enthusiasm about getting into commercial.”
iRule founder and CEO Itai Ben-Gal couldn’t be more excited.
“Commercial is a huge part of how we’ve been growing,” he says. “It makes sense to go forward with a strong partner.”
He notes that Kramer has 25 worldwide offices with training and support for its network of dealers.
iRule is in a unique position, says Ben-Gal to “leverage the hardware, the marketing, and the expertise” of Kramer.
iRule Spawns New Categories for Kramer
At ISE, Kramer is reserving its big stage for two presentations. One of them is K-Touch.
The new software touches virtually all of Kramer’s existing applications, but also creates new categories for the company in terms of command, control and collaboration.
In one demonstration at ISE, Kramer is showing its A/V hardware in a boardroom application, where (fake) users around the globe are communicating with each other by way of K-Touch software.
Each user in a boardroom can “take over” a display by pressing a button on their computer or smart device. All the switching happens in the background over IP.
Without a major investment in third-party control systems, users would otherwise have to swap out VGA or USB and maybe press a button or three.
So why do I think Kramer wins ISE? The new K-Touch control platform isn’t necessarily the best of the lot, but it represents Kramer’s big push into the control category, which it had largely ignored in the past. The new initiative is likely to cause some ripples in the industry. Plus, I like to root for the little guy. And Ben-Gal is one of them.
Kramer at ISE 2015: Stand 1-F20
Follow our ISE 2015 Coverage @ www.cepro.com/ise
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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