Tradeshows are for learning. That’s not just my totally unbiased opinion as CEDIA’s Vice President of Education and Training. The number one reason we hear for attending a technology show is to discover new products. You go to understand new trends, investigate companies and devices, and engage in some “discovery-based peer-to-peer learning.” Yes, you also go to network, reinforce relationships, and make deals – but if you don’t leave with your mind expanded, the event hasn’t done its job.
At ISE’s Smart Stage, our volunteers shared viewpoints to challenge and elevate the smart home industry. Session topics ranged from upcoming trends to watch, to actions every integrator should take now. For the first time, CEDIA has made the entire Smart Stage program available on YouTube—so if you couldn’t join us in Barcelona, you can still take full advantage of their insights. Here are some highlights from four of our most thought-provoking sessions:
Lighting the Way to Independent Projects
If you read last year’s CEDIA Integrated Home Market Analysis, you already know that lighting is one of the industry’s fastest-growing technology categories. In this ISE Smart Stage session, led by Jeff Hayward of Wildwood Plus, Steve Noyes of Lighting of London and Brett Easton of Rako share another compelling reason to embrace lighting design: it gets you to the table with architects and designers.
According to Noyes, customers, architects and designers alike have a genuine, natural interest in conversations about lighting. The same people might dismiss AV, but they know what good lighting looks like. It can also open conversations about other integrated systems: “Once you’re in the project, and you’ve got that relationship, people do ask about the AV,” says Noyes.
What’s more, lighting gets you involved in projects at a much earlier stage of the build, according to Easton: “It’s in the fabric of the building. It’s in the same spec as heating control, security, door entry…[Lighting] is part of the build.”
Smart Homes for Sustainable and Independent Living
Later on at the ISE Smart Stage, CEDIA’s Walt Zerbe led a conversation with assistive technology consultant Paul Doyle and sustainable smart home expert Allan Burns on how sustainability and technological support for people with disabilities intersect, and how to incorporate both into your business and design considerations.
According to Doyle, “Smart technologies can play an integral role in keeping people with physical disabilities in control of their environment.” Integrators have a lot to contribute here, as most clinical services specialists have a limited understanding of what’s possible with respect to home automation. In serving this community, our industry can do real good by meeting acute, highly individualized needs.
As Burns pointed out, using smart home technologies for critical, health-related purposes makes energy security profoundly important. The more people come to rely on smart systems, the more energy they use, and the more power outages threaten quality of life. Sustainability technologies like microgrids aren’t just about being green – they’re about supporting independent living.
Is the Connected Home Actually Smart?
Jesus Delgadillo, a tech expert who recently obtained his master’s degree in smart home technologies, spontaneously joined Walt Zerbe and design luminaries/longtime CEDIA education volunteers Rich Green and Christian Beukes for an honest discussion about the future of the industry at the ISE Smart Stage. The panel pointed to a gap between the increasingly complex network of sensors throughout the connected home, and the ability to use sensor data to build smarter, more human-centered experiences. Right now, smart devices are gathering far more information than integrators can use—but AI may soon change that.
A truly smart home will continue to improve its own programming over time. Delgadillo foresees a future where the smart home is constantly learning not just from its residents, but from its neighbors. “We’ll have data on how we behave, but also from other people. How do they behave? This could help us build models that will help us improve our lives…If I understand that you have better habits than me, I can blend your profile with mine, helping me build better habits in my life.”
Building a Stronger Business with Certification
The industry is changing faster than ever before. What is the best way to keep your team abreast of these changes and take advantage of emerging opportunities in areas like lighting, wellness, and sustainability? Certification.
I moderated a panel on the ISE Smart Stage with Amanda Wildman, ESC, CIT-SME, IST-SME, CEDIA board member and owner of TruMedia; Pete Trauth, CIT-SME, IST-SME, ESC-I, ESC-N, ESC-D, owner of Nirvana Home Entertainment; Mike Ranpura, CIT-SME, IST-SME, ESC-T, ESC-N, director of Smart Life AV; and Paul Skelton, CEDIA’s regional development consultant for Australia and New Zealand about the role of certification in advancing their personal businesses as well as the industry. Several of the panelists talked about the impact pursuing certification has had on their staff, transforming junior technicians into some of their most knowledgeable and reliable team members. But as Trauth pointed out, certification isn’t just for industry newcomers: “You can have one year of experience in the industry, or you can have 40. Certification keeps you up to date.”
Skelton had some tough love for integrators who thought certification was good for the industry, but not a priority for them personally. Discussing how deeply government entities and allied trades value globally accredited certification, he maintained that a higher rate of industry certification will be required to get integrators in the door with architects, electricians, healthcare professionals, and energy experts: “I don’t think, as an industry, we can be taken seriously until we take ourselves seriously, and we’re not going to be at that point until more people are certified.”
If you’re on the fence about CEDIA certification for yourself or your staff, hear what these leading industry voices have to say. This session, along with the other sessions in the ISE Smart Stage Program, should give you some serious food for thought as you consider how to invest in and expand your business this year. Explore the whole program on our YouTube channel.
Mandy Beckner is the Vice President of Education and Training, CEDIA
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