If there was a timeline tracking how automation has changed since the mid-1980s, “it would be just one giant line with nothing on it because control is done pretty much the same way today as it’s been done forever,” says Clint Hoffman, VP of marketing for Kramer Electronics.
With its release of Kramer Control at InfoComm 2016, Kramer hopes to drastically change the direction of that line, which Hoffman continues to describe:
“A programmer goes to school for a particular amount of time and learns a particular manufacturer’s language. Then you find out what you want to control and write code. They create a GUI and the whole nine yards. It’s very labor intensive. It’s very expensive. And it’s very antiquated, frankly.”
Kramer, which previously released cloud-based control solution K-Touch, is releasing an entirely new cloud-based solution in Kramer Control that offers drag-and-drop configuration, works on any interface, on any operating system and is designed to cut customers’ automation costs significantly opening budgets up potentially for new rooms and applications.
“K-touch was a jumping off point. We’re taking it to an entirely different level,” Hoffman says. Kramer Control “is modern, built from the ground up, smart, aware, one brain in your system. [It] will be able to communicate with every other brain without the need for programming.”
Hear from iRule’s Itai Bengal who worked with Kramer on the development of Kramer Control:
More about that no need for programming from Kramer’s CI BEST application for Kramer Control:
Kramer Control uses distributed smart devices or “brains” in the system. Kramer Control is configured according to your real world layout; you specify a very simple hierarchy of your installation, from the room, to the building, to the campus. This allows the brains in the system to recognize each other. Incorporate automatic capture and display of any possible data analytics for easy ROI measurement, and you have an incredibly powerful, yet extremely affordable modern control system built for today and tomorrow.
Due to its simplicity, Hoffman says it requires “configurers” as opposed to “programmers” and that “even a guy like me” who is not a programmer can configure a system with a reasonable amount of time investment.
“Millennials don’t want to learn a programming language,” he adds. “Programming doesn’t exist anywhere else anymore. You do apps and drag and drop. Millennials will embrace this new style and they’ll take control to places it has never been before. I think we’re opening up the control market to so many places. Programmers will be our configurers of the future.”
The notion of Kramer Control bringing automation to more potential applications and customers is central to Kramer’s positioning of its new line. From Kramer:
Kramer Control will open up more than just the highest-end rooms and installations for control. Since it is incredibly scalable and also incredibly economical, yet full featured, it will make sophisticated control available in so many more applications.
This opens up new opportunities for integrators. The dashboard component will also present integrators with potential new reoccurring revenue streams. Finally, with the use of sensors and maximizing the growing Internet of things (IoT) trend, Kramer Control can also give integrators the opportunity to create unique automated solutions that enhance the productivity of customers.
The dashboard component refers to Kramer Control’s ability to capture room utilization data for customers, a feature that Hoffman says some at Kramer feel is the most important benefit of the new solution. “It literally captures everything that happens in the control aspect of your system 100 percent of the time automatically and you can immediately get reports on it,” he says.
“We’ll have a dashboard that you can customize. You can instantly see whatever you want to see to make ROI decisions. Integrators are not only going to be able to go to more spaces and be able to grow you’ll also have this built in inherent ROI machine.”
More of what Kramer is saying about Kramer Control
Although it wasn’t expected to have it ready for InfoComm 2016, Kramer is working on an as-a-service model for selling control, according to Hoffman. Instead of requiring the significant upfront investment in hardware, “it’s paying per month per room,” he says. “That way every five years, for instance, the customer gets new equipment.”
Kramer developed Kramer Control with partner iRule, but it’s not based on either Kramer’s K-Touch or iRule’s existing software. Hoffman says Kramer Control was build “from the ground up for the professional AV/IT industry.”
However, he says that people who already learned K-Touch will be able to learn Kramer Control more quickly because although it’s not built on the same platform it’s built on the same concept.
The big question, of course, remains. If Kramer Control offers intuitive, drag-and-drop automation that drastically reduces programming costs, what will customers need to sacrifice in terms of robust automation features?
Hoffman’s answer: “There is nothing that [other automation solutions] do that we won’t be able to do and probably even better.”