Blog: My ‘Automation vs Control’ Pet Peeve
Control Panel
Photo courtesy of Somar International Ltd./Flickr
Get with the program: Control is not automation. Automation is not control.
Buyer beware: The terms 'control' and 'automation' are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Our guest blogger explains the difference and why it matters.
By Mark Coxon

with a tool or tools, in this case the stick and the clutch. An automatic transmission shifts the gears without any input or control from the driver, hence it being called ‘automatic.’ The car uses a mechanism like a speedometer or RPM sensor to tell the car when to shift gears.

In a like manner, A/V companies can add great value to clients by creating automated systems that use related queues to automatically control the system without requiring the user to provide input. Using sensors to detect occupancy, light and temperature; or utilizing PC-based systems with daemons installed; or providing power management that not only powers down devices but also switch outlets to avoid phantom power draws all lend to true automation.

When talking about A/V systems, we diminish value when we confuse terminology like automation and control. We build value when we differentiate between the two. There are many systems that may never require automation, and where control will suffice. In other cases, if automation is the goal, a unique approach and component list may be necessary.  Only when we are able to explain the differences coherently can we become the true resources our clients are looking for, which helps all of our businesses in the end.TD End Icon Final 14 px

Posted by Jeffcmag  on  05/01  at  12:25 PM
Mike, In your sense, automation does not exist. All automation is a programmed set of responses to an, or a set of, inputs. "In addition, having one button perform multiple tasks, is also NOT automation." "So for an A/V system, having a current sensor installed in a conference room, so that when the system detects a laptop connected to a cable in the system, the projector turns on, the lights dim, the screen and shades come down and the switcher selects the correct input all without the user having to press or adjust anything is automation." The difference is in semantics. There is no difference between a button press and a current sensor. (a switch) That current sensor does the exact same thing as the button except that there must be power to the current sensor, which must be activated by a button.(switch)and then to complete a set of programmed responses. It cannot decide whether you wish to use the projector, the electronic whiteboard, or the video conference system. You must perform some manual task to do what you need the system to do. Without any input there is no output the rain sensor cannot detect rain with the vehicle off. The meeting room cannot do anything without someone plugging in a laptop. It is all a programmed input/output. Unless and until machines can read our thoughts and act upon or, (shudder) what they decide is best, then there will be no true automation.
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