CEDIA Expo puts stakes down in Denver
The annual Smart Home show took place September 7 – 9, 2023. AVNation spent three days roaming the various booths and sessions at CEDIA Expo. Here are the biggest takeaways from CEDIA 2023.
Smart Home Control
Control and automation are the backbone of any smart home system. At CEDIA the players not only showed off some new tricks, they got their lawyers involved. More on that in a moment.
Crestron came out swinging with a new version of Crestron Home OS. It’s slick. Bottom line. From a user interface (UI) perspective, this is the most intuitive version of Crestron Home OS to date. Control 4 by Snap One unveiled new LED lighting control, new UI, and more camera monitoring options. Savant continues to innovate and take market share in the smart home control market. CEDIA Expo was a huge show for shades and Savant leaned into that with new control options. While Josh.AI and AVA partner for voice and feature-rich controls.
Which leads us to the lawyers. Josh.AI/AVA are doing battle with Snap One. Long story very short. Former Snap One employees left and started AVA. AVA and Johs.AI have a partnership. According to Snape One, the AVA remote is a very close design to a Control 4 remote. Boom. Enter lawyers.
CEDIA Expo Home Theater Palooza
Home theaters is a huge, niche market in the residential AV space. The huge part is the potential revenue because they aren’t cheap. The niche is that, not many people can afford to dedicate the space nor the budget to a theater in their smart home. Direct View LED (DVLED) has entered the space with Quantum Media Systems. Matt Scott and I sat through a demo of the DVLED system and were blown away. The sound was perfect, the screen was bright but not “burn your retinas” bright, and the video from action and sports was spotless. It was the most impressive experience of the week.
From a technology standpoint, there was the “industry’s first networked audio theater.” I put that in quotes because I’m not entirely convinced that NOONE has ever put in networked audio in a theater. But, I’ll give it to the team at Seymour Screen Excellence and Grimani Systems. Using AES 67, they are able to distribute up to 27 channels of audio. Getting residential AV into networked audio means two things. The first is leveraging even more networking skills; an area that the smart home market already excels in over commercial AV. The second part is the performance and security of networked audio. There are no need for copper speaker wires if you’re pulling category cable. The overall performance of the system goes up due to a lack of environmental interference and the security of the system in case you’re watching a super-secret government video in your home.
OMG the Displays
Samsung. Sony. LG. Just Video Walls. The experiences of anyone looking for a great video were on display at CEDIA 2023. Samsung continues to wow with an ever-evolving The Wall. Sony had their laser projector lines just showing off. LG is a leader in LED and their MAGNIT was impressive in person. Granted, it was a trade show floor, so take it with a grain of salt. But impressive nonetheless. Just Video Walls is a company I wasn’t overly familiar with before the trip to Denver. Impressive micro LED. Then, as mentioned above, the DVLED theater demo was top-notch.
Commercial Integrator Expo at CEDIA Expo
For the first time ever Emerald, the company that owns and runs the CEDIA Expo, put on a commercial trade show nestled into CEDIA. The CI Expo was the first crack at combining residential and commercial AV into one show here in the States. Of course, Integrated Systems Europe has done this for 20 years. But this was a first for the US.
CI Expo was a good first try. The training sessions were well done, just not well attended. Sony, Legrand, Crestron, and other vendors incorporated their commercial offerings in their booths. Atlas IED, Aurora, and DSF showed off their commercial-centric offerings. The CI Expo is a realization that residential dealers are doing more commercial AV systems. It is also acknowledging that both markets have crossover areas where each benefit. Give the CI Expo a few years to grow and mature and it will become valuable to both the vendors and the dealers.
A Pretty Good Show
On a personal note, a few things to discuss. First, I got to reunite with my younger brother, Matt Scott. Matt’s been a part of AVNation since its inception and I hadn’t gotten a chance to see him in real life since the pandemic. Second, our good friend, Joe Whitaker, got married. A first for any trade show that I’m aware of. Finally, it was good to connect with several commercial friends at a traditional residential show.
CEDIA Expo and CI boasted 15,500 attendees and 12,899 qualified attendees. That feels about right, based on the crowds all three days. Those numbers put CEDIA back into the neighborhood of pre-pandemic attendance numbers. Given that they will be in Denver for at least the next three years, it gives Emerald and the team the ability to grow and evolve the show around a centralized location and time on the calendar. Areas to improve is to double-down on the commercial side. There is a significant opportunity here to expand the exhibitors and the education. They would also do well to offer more educational sessions on the commercial side. If they hope to attract commercial end-users, specifically education, they will have to adjust the timing. Early September is never a good time for Higher Ed to travel. Overall, it was a good few days in Denver that I’m looking forward to repeating next year.