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Industry Opinion: Does ISE Cover Enough Residential Technology? (3/1/2013)
By Yasmin Hashmi, HiddenWires
ISE is the biggest show for custom install residential technology in Europe. Its growth has been remarkable, but unlike CEDIA Expo in the U.S., ISE is owned jointly by CEDIA and InfoComm, and is therefore not dedicated solely to products and services for the home. It covers all manner of professional AV technology - in fact everything except broadcast and film, and this has led to some criticism that the residential aspect of the show tends to get lost among the wide range of commercial applications.
We therefore asked a number of systems integrators from around the EMEAA region about what technology they are currently involved with, whether ISE covers enough residential technology for them, and what they are hoping to achieve at this year's show. Here are their replies:
Christophe Lavergne, Home Automation Integrator, domoconcept2b, France
The technologies we currently use most frequently are KNX, Crestron and EnOcean. We don't tend to use all of these technologies in the same project, but we can mix KNX with Crestron for example, or KNX with EnOcean.
ISE is good for discovering new products, although I do feel that some technologies, such as KNX, are somewhat under-represented, given the volume of business they generate, so I would like to see more KNX products at the show. We are also trying to develop other systems, so I will be doing plenty of research at ISE to see which products and technologies will be suitable for our needs.
Maurizio Conti, Consultant, Italy
We are increasingly having to deal with IP distribution of media content, where more and more data is transported via Ethernet. The complete integration of data and entertainment is the future of home content sharing and delivery, so we are keen to find products and technologies that handle this type of integration, ranging from standard HDBaseT products to fibre distribution in order to fulfil bandwidth requirements for simultaneous streaming.
I've been attending ISE since its inception, and have watched it grow until it now occupies virtually every hall of the RAI. The space dedicated to residential technologies has grown commensurately, but I think that we could do with more space dedicated to the residential market, and perhaps a little more effort from manufacturers, as currently, ISE is the only pan-European show that addresses this type of technology.
At the show, I hope to see more AV distribution over Ethernet, especially point-to-multipoint solutions, and new low-cost streaming systems - we might even look for some commercial-grade solutions that can be applied to residential systems. Indeed this is one of the benefits of having both commercial and residential technology at the show - we can 'steal' some ideas from the commercial sector that make our residential projects easier.
Stéphane Pochet, Technical Manager, Digital-Tree, Belgium
The technologies I am currently involved with are mostly universal media player-related including residential networks, NAS, media servers, and video distribution such as HDMI over IP.
ISE does cover a good range of residential technology, but I think that there are a lot of interesting products that are not shown because of the size of the companies that make them - they simply can't afford the cost of exhibiting. To address this, I think ISE should use some of its space to create a 'What's hot, and what's new' space - perhaps people could vote during the year for the top ten new products, and these would win a small spot in the space. Indeed if you need any inspiration, take a look at the Kickstarter website. You'll be amazed to see what is around the corner; the Internet of Things for example, is going to be huge.
ISE is a great market barometer. Some years can be exciting and I come away from the show fully energised and inspired. Whereas in other years I might be left with the feeling that there are fewer new products being launched and that everyone has retrenched to their core business. Let's see what 2013 brings!
Kris Hogg, Managing Director, Konnectiv Technology, UK
We have been getting on top of IP-based HDMI distribution with great success. HDMI is always the bane of our lives, but the latest set of HD-over-IP products has made a difference to our ability to roll out some quite large installations quickly and easily. In reality though, there hasn't really been much new to hit the market in terms of residential technology that we have had to fight or struggle with - which makes quite a nice change.
The biggest change however, has been the take-up of network-based media players. Sonos started it an age ago, but products such as the Linn DS have changed the client's expectations. Sonos revolutionised how our clients access their media collection, and the newer generation of devices have changed that game, allowing clients to upgrade from Sonos' limitations and allowing us to actually use such products as part of an audio and video multiroom system.
While ISE does cover enough residential technology, I've always complained that this is far too dispersed across the halls. This year however, I know that there have been big changes, and there will be a more dedicated residential area, although there will of course be the odd exception. Interestingly though, some of our best finds have come from the other halls. Learning how the signage or pro audio guys actually install stuff, and finding the little things that help their installations has, in the past, helped us to work smarter.
This year's show will see me wearing my CEDIA badge for the first time. I guess there will be a lot of new people to meet and I will have some CEDIA duties to perform, which will be fun. In fact if you are a CEDIA member, you'll find CEDIA's members' lounge useful this year.
As for product, it's always the little things that make the difference, although I gather that Kaleidescape will be showing its download store for the first time, and that may change their game. But I really want to find that one magic product that helps us make more money and make our lives easier. Despite years of searching, I still haven't found it, so may be 2013 will be my lucky year!
Shehzad Hussain, Project Manager, Channel Tek, Pakistan
The upgrade of existing 1080p conventional HD setups to support 4K up-scaling is a hot topic here these days, so we are looking at 4K as a progressive step in high-end projection. With many vendors already having released 4K-supported projectors, AV processing manufacturers are also helping to grow the 4K market with the release of 4K upscaling-equipped AV processing pre-amps/receivers.
3D is certainly not a new topic of discussion, but having to transmit 3D deep color digital signals over long distances is something most systems integrators have not yet explored here, and while most manufacturers support 3D pass-through, many still fail to support full HDMI 1.4a-specified features. I'm also interested to see how HDBaseT with its 5Play capability will evolve as I think that this would be a much more effective method for long-distance uncompressed HD transmission.
At ISE, the scope of specialised AV, high-end integration and control is very wide, and last year there was a lot of digital signage on show, but this year I am more interested to see new product releases for the high-end residential market.
The first thing on my list to achieve is continued education, so I am looking forward to the CEDIA and InfoComm sessions. Secondly, I am looking forward to networking with industry friends and to sharing and learning from our respective experiences. I also look forward to meeting industry partners and discussing product-specific plans and future product line-ups. See you at the show!
Yasmin Hashmi is the Editor of HiddenWires, EMEAA's leading English-language magazine for the home automation and entertainment trade. If you would like to add to this discussion, you are welcome to join the HiddenWires group on LinkedIn.
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