The Consumer Electronics Design and Installation Association Expo is usually a top venue for manufacturers to unveil new products. I’ve been going to the show for well over a decade; some years, the introductions have been amazing, other years have been a big snooze. I’m hoping 2012 is a banner year for innovation, I hope there are a few surprises and most of all I hope to see a lot more of the following types of products.
We all know that home construction is down, which means more and more people are choosing to integrate technology into homes they already own. Another fact we know if that it’s typically more difficult to install electronic systems into a home that’s finished than one that’s in the midst of construction. Over the past few years manufacturers have rolled out retrofittable alternatives, but there’s definitely room for a lot more in this growing category. Wireless, easy to install and affordable are the three main ingredients for a product, be it a lighting system or a thermostat, to be attractive to owners of existing homes.
Tiny But Powerful Speakers
We live in a mobile world; it makes sense that our speakers should be mobile too. Small speakers that can be easily moved from the kitchen to the patio are a boon to music lovers like me, who really don’t want to carve holes in the walls or make room in a bookself for permanently stationed speakers. In the past, portable speakers have sounded downright puny, but there’s been a shift. Manufacturers are making their tiny unit more powerful, proving that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for convenience.
Mainstream Theater Gear
I’m sure I’ll get slammed once again on this comment, but I’m glad to see screen and projector manufacturers developing products that can perform well in nontraditional theater environments. Day or night, lights on or off, in a small or big room, the new generation of theater products appeals to all types of people—not just hard-core movie buffs.
Nice Looking Racks
I commend manufacturers for making amps, receivers and other components sleeker, smaller and less “gadgety.” When something looks good you naturally want to show it off, so we hope to see equipment racks keep pace at CEDIA. They’ve been pretty industrial looking in the past; let’s see some equipment racks you’d be proud to put right next to your TV so that all your friends an admire your impressive A/V gear.
Control-Friendly iPad Docking Stations
Almost every manufacturer of home control system offers an app for operating lights, thermostats, A/V gear and other devices from the convenience of an iPad—and other mobile products. I’d like to see an in-wall docking station where the iPad can charge—and be pulled out and swiveled for those time when you’re using it to watch a video. Having the ability to swivel, tilt, and twist any type of home control touchpanel from the wall might be better ergonomically, too, for times when you’d like to control something while laying in bed, for example—sort of like an adjustable reading lamp.
More and more we’ve seen homeowners incorporate fog machines, strobe lights and other devices to turn rooms into dance clubs, concert halls, shooting ranges and golf courses. Most of these products have been designed for commercial environments, making them slightly difficult of custom electronics pros to integrate into homes. Let’s see some special-effects devices that can be easily fused with home theater components and home control equipment.