CEDIA, the digital home, and WAF

cedia_logoOn a recent coast-to-coast commute, I stopped in Indianapolis for my annual visit to the CEDIA Expo, the premier event for the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. It’s a trade show of home theater and home electronics fanatics, people who design and build home theaters, run corporate screening rooms, and build high-tech homes. At CEDIA, you can see the latest and greatest in everything from digital projectors and big-screen TVs to home theater seats and switchers, amplifiers, digital converters, and even popcorn machines.

The reason I go is to spot trends and observe the latest developments in the digital home entertainment space. I’m always interested in learning more about the context surrounding the viewing experience: How will people watch our shows in the future? What kind of experiences do they seek? And what are the consumer electronics companies and home electronics designers doing to meet those needs?

Madden 2012 on the 22-foot screen at the Future Tech Pavilion (Credit: CEDIA)

Madden 2012 on the 22-foot screen at the Future Tech Pavilion
(Credit: CEDIA)

There’s an entire home media ecosystem that comes together at CEDIA. A leading trend of late is the blending of home management or home automation with home entertainment. You can control your lights, HVAC, security (lots more cameras now that Ethernet cams are less costly), irrigation, open and close shades, and feed the pets. In today’s economy, these offerings are mostly for the higher-end customer. Yet, as with many tech innovations, the most popular features eventually make their way to the mainstream consumer household.

The big trend this year was the migration to iPad and Android apps for tablets and smartphones. There used to be a huge business in selling touch screens. Consumer electronics companies would exhibit dozens of them here. No more. “We can’t compete on price or visibility with Apple,” one dealer told me. So they make and sell apps instead of creating their own closed-end software and touch-screen hardware.

Just like at CES, Apple had no exhibit at CEDIA. But brilliantly, its influence was everywhere as the exhibits were overflowing with apps. So now it’s a battle of whose app is better and what controls what. Speaking of controls, many of the remote control makers are there, and I got a great demo of new units from Universal Remote Control and others. One of the stars of CEDIA is always Crestron, which is the Tiffany & Co. of customer electronic entertainment control. It did not disappoint this year. Besides having the largest exhibit, the company had the cushiest carpet (critical for your feet after walking cement floors all day). I lingered in front of the “custom design and control for sports bar” display for 10 minutes (a veritable lifetime on the conference circuit). Multifeed via matrix switching..multi monitors…instant game switching…it was my version of heaven!

As always, it’s all about customization and simplicity. Give the viewer their choices (“my personal TV” vs. “our family TV”). And make it easy and enjoyable. In my house the WAF has to be very high in order for any new piece of technology to be fully embraced. For those unfamiliar with the term, WAF=Wife Acceptance Factor! My wife insists that the technology in our home is straightforward and easy enough for all members of the family to use. Ultimately, the measure of any device’s success is determined by whether casual users and digital denizens alike can easily operate and enjoy it.

Once I got my CEDIA fix, it was time to take my glimpses of the future and head back to reality. Time to launch a new season, promote new shows, and bring new TV to America once again. How will they enjoy it this year and in future? I’ll be staying tuned to find out.

CEDIA on Twitter

CNET Coverage of CEDIA 2011

Fan up for fall

With less than two weeks to go to the new fall television season, we’re totally focused on making people aware of what’s coming soon to CBS. Our advertising blitz is in full gear–promos are running all over the airwaves and outdoor advertising heralds the new season everywhere you go.

On the Internet, you’re also seeing a ton of online promotions. Here are just a few of the fun, interactive, and mobile campaigns out there right now from CBS…with more rolling out every day.

image001_270x360

CBS Fall Preview iPad app
Hosted by “NCIS’s” Pauley Perrette and featuring our five new fall series, this free app for the iPad offers clips, games, tweets, and everything viewers need to get ready for the fall on CBS.

image002

‘The Good Wife’ digital magazine
Designed to get viewers ready for the “The Good Wife’s” new night and time this fall, this first-of its kind digital magazine offers exclusive photos, clips, and more. It also works as a companion piece to “The Good Wife: A new beginning,” the recap special that aired on CBS last Sunday and is available on video on demand and online on CBS.com.

‘Person of Interest’ Facebook app
By “liking” “Person of Interest” on Facebook and opting in with Facebook Connect you can get a customized dossier with your own alias, hometown, list of known associates, and more. Plus you can also watch previews for the show, and more, here.

Unforgettable” memory game
Think you’re observant? Put your memory to the test with this new “Unforgettable” game.

CBS social
Want more? Check us out on CBS.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter to stay connected to your favorite shows and characters all the time.

CBS Facebook pages

CBS Tweets