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Aug 18, 2010 11:19 AM, By Cynthia Wisehart

Residential AV helps set the new bar for commercial AV.

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Crestron MC3 Controller

At InfoComm, Crestron released its new MC3 controller, a product that was inspired by the IT paradigm.


“There was a time in the early days of residential systems when corporate executives would want to have things they had in their boardroom systems in their homes,” says Crestron’s Jeffrey Singer, recalling how commercial AV products would often migrate into designer cabinets in high-end houses, which were essentially small facilities. “Today it’s the opposite. We see the consumer market driving the commercial, with HD, mobile devices, Blu-ray, Roku, Blackberry, iPhone ... and the question becomes, ‘Why can’t I do that at work?’” The answer, of course, is scale—number of users, distances, distribution, space, reliability, security, and more. “But it’s become the new bar: Why does my system at home look better and work better than my system at work?”

“There’s another trend that’s coming out of residential, or at least in a grassroots way from individuals, and that’s the green movement,” Singer says. He sees continued opportunity for AV control systems, which have for some time handled environmental and energy elements such as lighting and HVAC monitoring, device on/off, and maintenance feedback tasks. Crestron is pursuing this trend in a very tangible way through new control products for shades and daylight harvesting that will extend to Crestron’s plans to manufacture the shades themselves.

“Both in terms of controlling the media systems and the environmental systems, people increasingly think of it as a total package, and they want to be able to control it that way. These systems used to exist in silos, but now they need to cross-communicate,” Singer says. This has not been lost on IT and building automation engineers and manufacturers. “They don’t really know yet how to handle all the content, streaming media, videoconferencing—knowing how to monitor when a room is occupied, how to schedule it, what input is being used by the projector—but one day they may. I think that’s a natural progression. We’re all serving the same clients, looking at the same spaces. Like three hungry dogs looking at the same bone,” he says with a half-smile in his voice.

The urgency of integrated systems has been driving development at Crestron for some time both collaboratively and competitively. For example, the new release of Crestron’s RoomView management and monitoring software has elements co-developed with Microsoft to allow interaction with Outlook; likewise, the new release of Outlook integrates RoomView as a native part of the program.

Even more ambitiously, the IT paradigm also inspired the new MC3 controller that Crestron released at InfoComm. It’s the first product to be built on Crestron’s new Power of Three platform, which Singer analogizes to a computer operating system. “It’s fundamentally different than any other control system in our industry,” he says. “It’s built like an IT server—where it is divided into modules, partitions, with multiple layers of redundancy.” This architecture is intended to enable a centralized backbone that integrates AV, environmental systems, and global enterprise management on a single platform. The various functionalities will be served by software—first a rewritten RoomView and later this year the Veridian environmental control software to control and monitor lighting and temperature. Future software modules are in development for digital signage, content capture, management and distribution, and IT network functions such as printer and copier control. These software modules will come together under a central server application called Fusion. “So think of Fusion as the front end, supporting modules for various functions, and then the Power of Three platform is the back end that supplies the memory and network connectivity to support this level of cross-communication,” Singer says.

To learn more about how to factor Crestron’s AV ecosystem into your design, a call to the Tech Sales department is free and consultants will walk you through the concepts and roadmap for the Power of Three and Fusion. Additionally, consider gaining your certification in Crestron’s Digital Media, the company’s solution for HD AV distribution and control, through the one-day design certification or the three-day engineering certification (both now accredited by InfoComm and CEDIA). Understanding Crestron’s approach to moving digital files and signal is a entry point to understanding how the company thinks about digital networks that integrate AV and other building systems.

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