Commercial Integrator Europe gained exclusive access to the first ever European Crestron Masters event and reveals the company’s future plans courtesy of Randy Klein, president and CEO, Fred Bargetzi, CTO and Robin Van Meeuwen, EMEA CEO for Crestron.
Taking place for the very first time in Europe, the Crestron Masters event looks to gather together the very best Crestron programmers and bring them fully up to speed on all the latest additions to the platform and also act as a powerhouse to drive development as programmers interact, swap ideas and offer feedback to the Crestron development teams.
A packed event with well over 150 programmers making the trip, the event was opened with a passionate presentation from Randy Klein, a Crestron veteran of over 25 years and the company’s president and CEO.
Addressing a packed hall, Randy enthused: “Terrific is an understatement in describing this event. This is the first full blown Crestron Masters in the EMEA region. This is truly a world class event, those assembled here have more skills and more commitment than any other industry in the world!
“In 2002 the first Crestron Masters took place with around 30 students, looking at those gathered here (150) and the numbers who attended the recent U.S version of this event (650) I have to say that in terms of our best achievements as a company, these events would have to be right up there.”
Randy went on to describe some key points on the development roadmap of Crestron and its place in the market as the industry develops and grows.
Crestron is confident of doubling its turnover in the next five years, as it has done in the last five years; 100 new engineers have recently been added as part of the company’s expansion drive which includes the opening of its large Campus building in Dallas, Texas.
Second only to company HQ in size, this new building is scheduled for completion in July 2016 and will house additional capacity in R&D, IT manufacturing and customer support.
Randy was keen to underline just how much Crestron drives development, explaining that new introductions from the last 36 months represent 50% of the maker’s revenue.
Two new test labs are also now in operation which look to drive understanding of performance for commercial and residential products.
Globally the company is also adding other facilities including two new sales and marketing support sites in Singapore and Australia, a new showroom in Florida and also introducing structural changes where dedicated teams look to support installers working in particular sectors such as education.
In summary on expansion, Randy said: “So you can see we are doing pretty good! This is going to be a very big year for Crestron as we change, evolve and continue to lead.”
“However, we have to keep balance, keeping one foot in the present and one in the future. We need to change the industry from AV product based model to a managed services approach as we offer total end to end solutions for customers. I am very excited about our future.”
Fred Bargetzi, CTO at the company took over to go through in a little more detail what development plans Crestron has to tackle change in technology and issues affecting the industry such as the growth in the Internet of Things concept.
Fred explained: “I sat on a panel at the last InfoComm event to discuss IoT and what it means for our industry. We understand the concept right? But what does it mean for our industry?
“Mobile devices have already given a big kick to development changing industries as people can be connected all the time. See what happened with Uber, it has revolutionised a sector. So what it has to do with us? The AV industry could be in danger of being ‘Ubered’ if we don’t change.”
However, Fred argued that used positively the IoT could help and improve user experiences as mobile device information such as location, who the person is, what their preferences are can be harvested and fed into the Crestron experience.
Despite the recent expansion of the connected concept, it is far from a new approach as Fred pointed out Crestron introduced its first Ethernet connected device in 1995. However of course, things have picked up a little since then with the Pyng platform and myCrestron (which delivers access to systems from mobile devices) vastly increasing the amount of connected products out in the field from Crestron.
The company’s ability to harvest meaningful data back into the cloud is a key part of how it will drive development and functionality in the near and middle future.
Fred explained how Crestron had looked into his own system at home and been able to gather meaningful data on patterns of behaviour.
Fred says: “If we can gather information and analyse it, we can create truly intelligent systems in the home and for enterprise. For us to do this, all devices have to be on-line and the data has to be fed consistently and more easily to make this new level of functionality happen.”
Key here is the roll out of the Crestron Fusion Cloud service which offers standardised reporting structures so that information pushed to the cloud is constant and useful.
With the Pyng platform continuing to lead the company’s development of the residential space, Crestron also highlighted the abilities the .AV Framework concept.
This part of the Crestron offering is designed to help installers reach all the smaller rooms across a commercial project standardising AV systems on a single IP-based platform throughout an organisation to create a truly connected building and organisation.
Reaching smaller spaces and huddle areas of buildings is a major development goal for the company as this will not only increase the level of convenience for organisations, but also increase the amount of data that can be farmed and help Crestron with its goal of truly intelligent end to end systems.
Another helpful building block underlined by Fred was the aim to provide REST APIs for Pyng and .AV Framework.
This is designed to increase Crestron’s ability to interact with any system by removing the need for XML-based Web service protocols to support interfaces.
Fred underlined just how vital Crestron programmers will of course be with this particular aim in expanding Crestron’s integration reach.
To help its installers in the field, Fred also underlined how the company is tracking performance gathering info on crashes and lockups as well as info on what tools and devices are used to the most.
Fred explained that data had already been used to improve performance within Crestron programming environments such as Toolbox.
Fred also had some kind words to say about the potential for interaction between Crestron and newer products like Amazon Echo with its Alexa voice activation abilities.
In terms of voice activation, Fred said: “This is the best we have seen so far. Try linking it to a Crestron system and you can do some really clever things. When it becomes available over here (Europe), do check it out because this type of functionality is definitely where things are headed.
“You need the knowledge to make this happen, but the opportunities are greater than ever before and our programmers are the people who are going to make it happen.”
Crestron Masters Facts Figures and Views
The Masters Conference offered a choice of twenty six separate courses, run across 59 sessions throughout the three-day event.
Some of the key sessions highlighted this year by attendees included Understanding Crestron Fusion Cloud Features and Architecture, GeoPresence working with PinPoint and NearField Technology, Crestron Networking in the Enterprise, Streaming Products and Fusion.
New additions to this year’s programme included extended opportunities for guests to network with peers and Crestron employees.
Programmers reacted positively with Teo Bednarx of Dekom in Germany saying: “This is my Second Masters, the training Crestron delivers is very important for my development in particular Simple# and DigitalMedia this year. I’ll definitely be returning again and again for many years to come.”
Balint Ipcsics of Steamnet Ltd in Hungary, added: “Each session I have attended has been incredibly interesting and the new technology is unbelievable. This year’s format with the added time to network with my peers has been a great addition as we can achieve so much value from spending time with each other, we don’t have many opportunities like the one Crestron is offering.”
Robin Van Meeuwen, EMEA CEO for Crestron, summed up the event: “It was incredible to have so many people attend, we are lucky to have so much continued support including from those who attending our inaugural event many years ago. I can’t thank our valued customers enough, without them Crestron would not be the company that it is today.”
Look out soon for an exclusive interview with Randy Klein, president and CEO and Robin van Meeuwen, president and CEO of Crestron EMEA, on our sister site Ce Pro Europe delving further into Crestron ethos and future plans.