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Alexa, Start My Video Conference

Commercial AV better get ready for Alexa, as the Amazon Echo device is about to significantly advance voice control in AV control programming.

Tim Albright

This past week Dallas, Texas hosted a tradeshow dedicated to the audio visual industry. CEDIA is all about the residential segment of AV, but that doesn’t mean it has no impact on the commercial AV channel.

One of the more significant bits of news to come out of the show last week was the integration of Amazon Echo with control companies. Control4, Crestron, Lutron, and others now have the ability to be controlled with the Amazon Echo device.

Imagine saying “Alexa, turn on the lights.” This step in control and automation is a huge development. It gives Echo another skill that makes it a more valuable product for the home market but this also marks the most significant advancement of voice control in AV control programming.

As with wireless video that started in the home, this will make its way into the commercial audio visual market. It will start in the CEO’s office or board room. He or she will have it installed at home, fall in love with it and say something to the effect of “why can’t I have this at the office?”

There you are. From there voice control will become part of the future of AV control.

No, it will not replace touch panels or other points of control- just like RFIDs or NFC won’t. For critical systems there will always be a touchable control point.

However, for those systems where speaking is just as easy, or easier, as trying to figure out a control interface, it will be a serious piece of control. Your clients will be able to walk into a room and say “Alexa, start presentation” and the display will power on, lights will dim to 50 percent, and the switcher will switch to the input that has video going to it.

CEDIA is a fun show with a number of advances that will impact the commercial AV market. Now, I am not suggesting you send a contingent to next year’s show in San Diego. It does warrant paying attention to the coverage, talking with your reps and manufacturers, and see what is going on in the residential market. What happens there will come to commercial sooner or later.

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