30 Years of CEDIA, 30 Years of Tech — Part 2

Ed Wenck | Mar 11, 2019

CEDIA’s Technology Council built a list of 30 innovations and advances that have impacted the residential tech industry since the creation of the association in November of 1989. The first five (in no particular order as far as impact) included digital TV, the wide adoption of the flat-panel display, and the evolution from grinding dial-up to broadband internet speeds among others.

The next five on the list are:
The user interface has developed in ways that science fiction predicted. From keyboard to mouse to remote control keypad, the way we interact with our devices still has holdovers from the early days of CEDIA. But the touchscreens that accompanied the early iPhones marked an evolutionary step that was just a precursor of major disruptions ahead. In the last few years, we’ve seen the rise and refinement of voice control that will soon be coupled with gesture for a (hopefully) seamless experience in which, say, a homeowner just points and asks the shades to lift. And after that? Control by thought alone, perhaps?
Television’s not just for entertainment – it’s for safety and security, too. Closed-circuit television had been around for decades before CEDIA got organized, but it was mostly used in commercial applications. Now it’s part of integrations large and small. Tech Council member Eddie Shapiro (SmartTouch USA) has installed CCTV systems in both businesses and homes. His take: “I think probably what's changed the most is the technology of IP. On the residential side we're not even using recorders. In some cases we're actually recording to SD cards built into the camera and people are playing back their videos as if they had a DVR or NVR.”
The light bulb has seen more than one bright idea. A glowing filament inside a glass bulb – it’s an image that seemed so, well, brilliant, that it came to represent the “bright idea.” Those bulbs, however, are also wildly inefficient, converting less than 5% of the energy they chew up into the on-demand light that helped create our modern civilization. Fluorescent light (the scourge of many an office drone) came next, followed by advances in CFLs and eventually a broad adoption of solid-state LED lighting in an astonishing variety of colors and temps. Current lighting gives us bulbs that can act as their own switches and dimmers, be automated to react to a variety of events, or even take on forms that look nothing like a “bulb” at all.
You have an astonishing amount of computing power right in your hand. The Palm company was founded in 1992, just a few short years after the inception of CEDIA. Their Personal Digital Assistant, the “PDA” became wildly popular, eventually spawning a PDA/cellphone combo (the “Treo”) that saw competitors spring up – notably, the BlackBerry family of devices. (Remember when those phones were called “CrackBerries” – a play on their addictive nature?) Our concept of the smartphone would be completely revolutionized on January 9, 2007, when Apple rolled out the first iPhone. Most of us are now digitally connected wherever we go, and we expect to have that connectivity (and the control it can provide to other devices) available on demand. To put all of these advances into perspective: We each hold in our hands a device more than 120,000,000 times more powerful than all the computers it took to put men on the moon in 1969 combined.
Computation and storage have moved to the “cloud.” Longtime CEDIA Tech Council stalwart Mike Mansicalco has these thoughts about the massive impact cloud computing has on the residential universe: “Early on we had physical media. We had discs, CDs, tapes, VHS, and so on. Then we moved to servers like Kaleidescape, which remain an option … Eventually, the speeds to the home got great enough and reliable enough to shift to streaming services. And now the costs for cloud computing is so low, we have massive amounts of storage for a few bucks a month. To give you an example, I spend $10 a month for a terabyte of data on Google Drive.” But, of course, security becomes an issue. “I think generally, society tends to lean towards convenience and lower cost and is willing to sacrifice some level of privacy and security,” says Maniscalco. In our industry, though, it’s actually raised awareness around privacy and security. It's caused people to talk about these things.”