03/2011 – 7 Observations from EHX 2011

matthew.bail@niceforyou.com | March 20, 2011

7 Observations from EHX 2011

March 21, 2011 – With its focus on New Opportunities, the Electronic House Expo is a bit of a trend-setter. It was the first event, for example, to focus on streaming media, home health technology, security and recurring revenue, and other emerging technologies for CE pros.

Here are a few general observations from EHX 2011:

1. Security is sexier than streaming media

Security was one of the hottest categories on the show floor, with Honeywell, HAI, Elk, DSC, 2Gig, central stations and others well represented.

In an unusual twist for a CE pro-oriented show, the security-related educational sessions (including the home health technology presentations) drew larger crowds than the usual favorites such as streaming media and game-changing technologies.

2. Vendors need spring venue for launching new products

SCustom-oriented vendors have the CEDIA Expo in September to launch their new products. To a lesser extent, they also show new stuff during January’s Consumer Electronics Show at the high-end audio area at the Venetian and the EHX @ CES on the show floor.

But they really crave a springtime event to showcase their new custom products, as EHX Spring 2011 demonstrated. There, we saw worldwide debuts of major products from Sim2, Honeywell, Just Add Power and others (details to come). CEDIA’s IP networking classes were packed.

4. Sim2 impressed with Just Add Power

We dragged Alberto Fabiano, EVP sales and marketing for Sim2, to the Just Add Power booth to see JAP’s new multiroom 3D video distribution system, which delivers 3D to virtually any legacy HDTV display. Although Fabiano wants to sell more Sim2 3D-enabled projectors, he was mightily impressed with the JAP product, thinking it would be a great solution for 3D-enabling a number of Sim2 projectors that are already in the field.

5. Control4 impressed with ihiji

Naturally, Control4 CTO and co-founder Eric Smith was impressed with his own booth, featuring more than a dozen Control4 partners. But he also was wowed by ihiji’s new Control4 module, which allows integrators to monitor their clients’ automation systems remotely – not just basic activities of the Control4 panel, but the minute details of every single connected device on the network, including each individual ZigBee sensor.

6. Remote system diagnostics, monitoring needs new biz model

Three major players in remote monitoring and diagnostics for home control – Nuage Nine, ihiji and Certified Cyber Solutions – demonstrated their wares in the New Opportunities Pavilion at EHX. All three of them offer robust systems for monitoring and managing clients’ home networks, home control systems, and virtually every device connected to the home control system. What integrator wouldn’t want that for their clients?

Unfortunately, these excellent solutions are pricey (at least for our industry), with end user fees starting at $100 or more per month (Nuage says its service is less).

Principals from ihiji and CCS tell CE Pro that dealers who are most successful with the product are the ones that subsidize the box and roll the recurring fees into a service contract, preferably collected annually rather than monthly. Service fees become far more profitable since systems can be diagnosed and often fixed without a truck roll.

7. CE Pros (still) like to jam

There’s nothing that brings CE pros together like a band comprised of their own. EHX reprised the CE Pro All Star Band, which continues to draw great talent from the industry and deliver good fun. Organized by CE Pro’s guitar-pickin’ Bob Archer, and sponsored by Legrand, the band featured awesome artists, and a set list embraced by youngsters and old farts alike.

Singer Mike Mongiovi, the unknown show-stopper plucked from obscurity at the 2010 EHX jam session, returned to the stage. His wife told CE Pro that Mike was all set to join a boy band 10 years ago but decided to get married and raise a family instead. We thank him for that.

CE Pro editor Julie Jacobson does not, however, thank him for publicly chastising her hairdo. A greater hair-related insult had not been hurled at Julie since an irate reader referred her do as a “5th grade boy circa 1983 haircut.”