Interview: RTI’s CEO Discusses IoT and the Evolving Control Market

Ed McConaghay sat down with CE Pro to discuss how RTI is responding to the growing impact of IoT devices on the control marketplace, and how integrators should present new systems to clients.


Recently, CE Pro sat down and spoke with Ed McConaghay, CEO of RTI, to discuss how the control and automation landscape is evolving, how the residential market is catching up to the commercial market, and more. 

How does RTI view today’s evolving control market?

The world of IoT is a massive and fast-growing market that has caught the imaginations of our customers — both residential and commercial.

For many of them, however, it has also become a confusing onslaught of technology. They are bombarded with proprietary IoT products promoted as DIY, leading them to believe they are easy to install and maintain.

Often, this isn’t the case. Smartphones quickly become choked with apps, while devices that are supposed to work together don’t. The result is a highly disappointing user experience.

For integrators, this provides an excellent opportunity to leverage their experience bringing together a wide range of diverse devices, making the complex simple to understand and operate. This puts them in a unique position to become even more profitably useful. 

Does the growing momentum of IoT impact how RTI sees future control and automation technologies?

Now more than ever, in this complex, ever-changing world of IoT, the need for a control platform that our dealers can rely on and evolve with remains.

However, the basic criteria it must meet hasn’t changed in the 27 years we’ve been in business. It needs to be: simple, scalable, reliable, built for the long haul, flexible, affordable.

Is the residential market catching up to the commercial market in terms of technology and system complexity?

From scalability and access by a wide range of users to ease of collaboration, commercial environments have their own set of unique challenges that make them more complex.

While there is plenty of overlap in their control requirements, much of the complexity of residential installations comes from the ever-growing list of IoT devices, which tend to be adopted quicker by a homeowner.

From door locks to refrigerators, the number of Internet-connected devices for homes is expanding quickly. It is up to us and our dealers to stay on top of the wave of new technologies.

How should integrators present state-of-the-art control systems to clients?

The first step in this process is to be better informed about all the options, and to embrace the customer’s desire to have the latest “thing.” We just need to prepare them for the reality of this fast-changing, high-tech world. We don’t want to frighten users.

Integrators can shed light on how a professionally installed control system allows them to benefit from these IoT and DIY devices, while ensuring that they play well together.

Read Next: RTI Touchpanel Remotes Mount in Walls, Reside on Tables

Also, a control system will evolve with their needs. As they add new devices or technologies, their single, intuitive user interface remains the same.

The RTI control system can smooth out the “technology bumps” so the experience remains consistent, working with legacy devices from 10 years back and whatever technology the next 10 years brings us.

No one interface is the be-all solution, so how can integrators address the different types of interfaces (remote controls, touchscreens, voice) to help clients optimize their systems?

With all of these options today, the user experience should still be the number one concern. For every environment, there is a best solution for each client. The integrator can inform them of their options and make their best recommendation.

Ultimately, the solution is whatever works best for the client and the ability to deliver a unified experience across all their interfaces is key.

Is it important for integrators to serve both residential and commercial clientele?

It is a logical progression for residential dealers to expand their customer base and cross over into the commercial market.

One of our strongest assets is our Integration Designer APEX software, which allows our dealers to create a custom, branded user interface. Being able to tailor the control capabilities and look of the user interfaces is a huge advantage in the commercial world.

In addition, over the past couple years, RTI has released an entire line of commercially focused products, from A/V distribution to presentation switchers.