Julie Jacobson’s 9 Themes from CEDIA 2016

Video doorbells, Amazon Alexa, 4K projectors, productivity software, virtual reality, up-and-coming wireless audio formats and other key themes from CEDIA 2016.

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I’ve now had a good long month to reflect on CEDIA 2016 and some of the industry trends revealed at the show formerly known as Expo. Here’s what I got out of it.

Amazon Alexa

Duh. And still to this day, the only people I’ve met that think voice control is stupid … have never owned an Echo.

Amazon is busy nailing down this voice user interface (VUI) thing, to better understand how people talk, what they call things, and how much personality a VUI should have.

Sonos is helping to refine the multiroom audio VUI, while IC Realtime is working on vocabularies for surveillance. How about: “Watch front door camera on living room TV”?

On a personal note, someone taught me how to use Google Assistant on my Android phone, which responds only to my voice signature.

The first thing I tried just worked: “OK, Google, make a note.”

So I rattled off a message, it created a perfect transcript and emailed it to me. I see a strong future for Google Home, the potential Alexa-killer.

Video Doorbells

Another duh. The old video intercom systems from the likes of Channel Vision and Holovision are adding standalone apps to their products and making them consumer-friendly (Holovision is powered by Doorbird).

And from the other side, the DIY-products are stepping up with products and programs for the channel.

For example, SkyBell is offering a two-year warranty on products installed by pros, and Ring demonstrated flush-mount doorbells for more attractive (and profitable) installs.

Virtual Reality

This was a surprise to me. Virtual reality is coming on strong, not just as a cool toy to sell to your gaming clients, but as a dealer tool for everything from visualizing a home theater (Real AV) and marketing your business (IC Realtime).

Here again, Google (not exhibiting) could come out of nowhere in this category with the company’s forthcoming Pixel phone and Daydream goggles.

Sony

Sony continues to spread love all over this channel, introducing its first 4K Blu-ray player to A/V specialists instead of big-box retailers, and including services like ihiji for remote management and control of Sony electronics.

4K Projectors

Speaking of Sony, which has owned the 4K home-cinema projector category for the past several years … they’re getting some competition now.

Most of the major projector manufacturers in our channel – Barco, Digital Projection, Epson, JVC, Sim 2 – showed either “native” or pixel-shifting 4K, using their own home-grown technology or Texas Instruments’ new 4K-capable chipset.

Strangely enough, TI exhibited at CEDIA, but the company wasn’t promoting 4K. It was all about haptics.

Productivity Software

I counted at least 22 companies demonstrating productivity software for everything from project estimation to inventory management to purchasing and project design (see them all in our Ultimate CEDIA Preview, starting on page 104).

Yes, we as an industry have arrived.

Play-Fi and Google Cast

Move over Sonos and Apple AirPlay. We are finally seeing traction in the HRA-capable Play-Fi technology from DTS and the new Google Cast (Chromecast Audio) service.

Google was at CEDIA promoting the wireless audio technology and several manufacturers boasted support for the spec.

As for Play-Fi … if it’s good enough for Autonomic, you can bet it’s good enough for the custom channel.

Networking and Remote Monitoring

Along with voice control, this was the big theme for CEDIA 2016 – robust networking products that are simpler than ever to configure, device-discovery platforms that populate automatically, and remote-management solutions that dealers might – just might – be able to monetize.

We have a pretty good overview of the players, starting on page 30 of the Ultimate CEDIA Preview.

The Vibe

A lot of very happy people in this business today.