Blog: My ‘Automation vs Control’ Pet Peeve

Buyer beware: The terms 'control' and 'automation' are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Our guest blogger explains the difference and why it matters.

Blog: My ‘Automation vs Control’ Pet Peeve
Get with the program: Control is not automation. Automation is not control. Credit: Photo courtesy of Somar International Ltd./Flickr
Blog: My ‘Automation vs Control’ Pet Peeve
Get with the program: Control is not automation. Automation is not control. Credit: Photo courtesy of Somar International Ltd./Flickr

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Let me start by saying I know that I am opening myself up to a slew of comments here, but being in this industry for 12 years, I finally reached my breaking point and I have to vent.

As audio-video companies, we install or integrate (that’s another difference worth talking about as well, but I’ll spare you for now) several products into a system to meet a set of needs for our customers. Many times we bring together the best products and practices from different manufacturers and industries to create a specialized system. As such, these systems are quite complicated to use in isolation – that is, unless they are bundled with a customized system to make life easy for the end user. Many dealers call this ‘an automation system,’ and this is where I have to insert myself into the conversation.

Let me start here with a couple of simple definitions:

Automation: The automatic operation or control of equipment, a process, or a system.

Automatic: Acting or operating in a manner essentially independent of external influence or control.

My pet peeve is that most of the ‘automation systems’ sold in the market do not involve automation at all, or they involve very limited automation. Merely adding a Crestron, AMX, Control4, or Savant processor and touch panel to a system is not ‘automation.’

When a user pushes a button to accomplish a goal, that is not automatic. It is not automation. It is control.

In an automobile, a manual transmission requires a user to control the shifting of the gears


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