30 Years of CEDIA, 30 Years of Tech — Part 3

Ed Wenck | Mar 18, 2019

We’ve already covered everything from user interfaces to the changing form of the light “bulb” as we roll through the CEDIA Technology Council’s list of 30 innovations and advances that have impacted the residential tech industry since the creation of the association in November of 1989.

Next up: 11 though 15:

The quality of distribution has gone up as the audio and video it delivers has improved. In the early days of CEDIA, some smart folks had taken to adapting car audio components to bring audio to multiple rooms in the home. Tech Council member Eddie Shapiro (SmartTouch USA) recalls the progression from there: “We’ve gone from big multi-room amps to active speakers that let you stream anything you want at any moment you want. On the video side, I’d say the biggest change occurred when video over IP arrived.”

The cable’s changed a lot when it comes to AV connectivity. When physical connections are involved between all of those components, the Tech Council’s Michael Heiss (M Heiss Consulting) thinks about two converging lines:  “You’ve got the audio side and the video side, and all these different kinds of cables delivering one or the other – and then everything converged a while back at HDMI.” CEDIA’s David Meyer adds, “It came on as part of the transition to all-digital AV. Perfect timing actually, which is part of the reason for it becoming ubiquitous (to many integrators’ frustration).” The problem then becomes one of distance, and solutions like HDbaseT and fiber help to solve those issues.
Lossy or lossless, a lot of what we hear and see has been compressed. The range of compression options has changed wildly since a Dolby Digital soundtrack was first added to a flick at the local cineplex (Batman Returns, 1992). Heiss: “On the audio side, we’ve got mp3, FLACC, .wav – with video we had MPEG-2, then MPEG-4 (MPEG 3 wound up in the witness protection program) … and now it’s all merged into H.265. That’ll likely remain viable for a while.” Meyer: “The next big thing’ (8K content anyone?) might be called H.266 — which, by the way, is under development as Versatile Video Coding (VVC). Who knows? The bottom line is that codecs keep getting more efficient, which means more data in a relatively smaller package with higher performance. Keep in mind that exponentially rising bandwidth availability and improving compression codecs is the dynamic duo for delivering bigger, better, and faster AV.”
Window coverings got “smart.” Sam Woodward of Lutron (a recent addition to the Tech Council) speaks often about the use of natural light in addition to artificial illumination; “bringing the outside in.” As soon as motors were attached to shades, integrators started getting bright ideas (pun intended) regarding automating these coverings for both light and climate control. Add smart glass that can turn from transparent to opaque, and the modern range of options is staggering.

Locks and alarms have turned into “access control.” What’s the primary function of a front door lock: Is it to keep the wrong people out, or let the right people in? The notion of a keyless entry that can even be geo-fenced for a client when his or her arms are full of groceries is a concept one could barely have conjured at CEDIA’s birth. Alarm systems have grown in complexity and reliability, too, and the need for monitoring gave the CEDIA channel its first entrée into the concept of “recurring monthly revenue” (RMR).