Changes in control and automation systems reflect the changes in building technology in general as well as changes in the sophistication of something like the average person’s telephone. A few years ago, different networks for A/V, IT, HVAC and security were likely to each circulate in their own worlds while operating in one building. What’s happening now with the proliferation and mass enthusiasm for smartphones and tablets, combined with the affordability of control and automation systems, is that people are coming to expect these networks to cooperate with each other on a grand scale. They also want to access and control them easily.
An average person is much more aware of touchpanel interfaces these days due to the mass enthusiasm for smartphones and tablets. Consumer knowledge of different apps and the ability to customize the experience has changed the control and automation business considerably in the last few years. “There’s a tremendous amount of commercial opportunity out there for control and automation,” says Jim Arnold, senior vice president of Sales for Control4. “People just want things to work easily and simply. [They just want to] hit a button on a tablet, and have lights and videoconferencing system come on.”
In the past, the cost of entry may have been high for a control and automation system to be customized for a business. Dealers now are personalizing systems for each business, but everything is not customized. “[Even smaller organizations] can implement simple media solutions, simple control of lighting, and simple ability to see what’s going on with the use of an IP camera,” says Arnold. “It is now easy to provide the functionality that used to be the purview of only very expensive projects.”
What is lowering the cost is that control and automation systems have evolved substantially from five years ago to today. “There is less hardware than there used to be,” says Lutron’s Brian Dauskurdas, director of Global Energy Sales. “Five years ago, buildings were still being