Looking Back at Crestron Masters 2017

This post on the 2017 Crestron Masters event (U.S.) is written by Tim Johnson, programmer for AVI-SPL. Tim attended last week’s event, the annual gathering of elite Crestron programmers for training classes and networking events.

The Crestron Roadmap discussed at the event focused on building a standards-based implementation of AV systems and programming in order to enable broader adoption of AV technology. That technology would be applied across a wider range of locations, with differing levels of sophistication depending on the needs of the end-user.  Some products and product features that are most prominent in this push toward standards-based AV are security, cloud functionality, and AirMedia, with Fusion being used for monitoring.

The keynote by Crestron President & CEO Randy Klein urged programmers to help create this ecosystem of standards by seeing themselves as technologists rather than just programmers. To Klein, Crestron Master Programmers typically have a much broader skill set than their job descriptions may indicate, and the roles that Crestron Master Programmers play within their organizations are much more diverse than just writing code.  Klein urged the use of Master Programmers’ broad skill sets to guide the industry to standards-based solutions similar to how Cisco has led the networking industry to standards based on Cisco best practices and products.

Crestron Chief Technology Officer Fred Bargetzi went through the lengthy list of new product lines and noted that Crestron’s focus is going to be on security that enables them to be placed in nearly any high security environment without having to rely solely on the IT departments of the customer.  This will be a benefit to the dealers since IT departments typically see AV equipment as a burden rather than a part of their responsibilities.  Bargetzi said that new products will all have native 802.1x authentication.  In addition, AirMedia and PinPoint functionality will be embedded in a wide range of products after a redesign of the AirMedia platform to implement authentication.

When asked about possible privacy issues, Bargetzi explained that a PinPoint beacon is simply an ID from a Bluetooth beacon that is received by an app that does not have to be used unless desired.  If the app is used, then the data is sent to Crestron Fusion, where it is associated to an actual location so the data from the PinPoint beacon is not valuable on its own, thus preserving the privacy of the app user.

In describing Crestron’s newest version of DigitalMedia 4K distribution, Bargetzi touted the continued ability to use a single CAT5 cable to send 4K signals.  This will allow dealers to retain the ability to work with existing infrastructure and will also keep cabling costs lower for DM implementation when distributing 4K signals.

On the issues of “frontline” support personnel inferior knowledge levels relative to Master Programmers, and Crestron Studio’s soft release strategy, which was seen as an incomplete product, Bargetzi acknowledged the validity some of the criticisms made on these two subjects.

When asked about the absence of any mention of Simpl or VTPro, Bargetzi said that Crestron is not going to stop using Simpl, but the continued development of Crestron Studio may someday warrant a change when Studio is ready.  I suggested that if Crestron Studio had all the same functionality as Simpl and VTPro, then moving to Studio would not be considered an issue.

Other items on the Crestron Roadmap

  • Transition from Windows CE to Linux
  • Transition from Smart Graphics to HTML 5
  • Power conditioners that will allow remote reboots
  • The use of AI (Alexa) with control systems
  • An HTML 5 version of the Crestron App that will be freely available
  • AirMedia embedded in most DM products in the future
  • Pinpoint beacons embedded in most products in the future
  • Full USB implementation with the DM-NVX products
  • Making commercial versions of Pyng and My Crestron products
  • Implementing Dynamic Drivers for equipment
  • Self-contained Unified Communications + AV + Management in Mercury conferencing products
  • Next Generation Touchpanel scheduling with scheduling natively built-in and the ability to connect directly to Exchange without Fusion implementation

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