Upping the Ante in Home Automation
We’ve all heard the tales of woe about “trunk slammers” who fumble their way through a home automation install, and then leave clients in the dust as they move on to the next job. As a certified programmer myself, I get no satisfaction from hearing about these guys. It goes without saying that poorly trained, inefficient programmers reflect poorly on us all.
One of the biggest missions we have at OneVision is to do just the opposite of that; instead of treating these projects as one-time jobs, we see them as the beginning of a life-long relationship with technology that will need to be nurtured, managed, and serviced. We design the system from the ground up for ease of use and maintenance. By doing some extra work upfront, we eliminate pain points for our clients down the road. For example, every project we deploy is evaluated for “likely service issues” for which we program reboot commands that allow us, and sometimes the customer, to quickly resolve things remotely when things go awry. Not all smart-home programmers think about the long-term usability of a system the way that we do.
So, I was excited to hear that Crestron – the folks who were making boxes that integrated AV components before anyone else in the industry – was raising the bar on what it means to be a certified programmer. This means the quality of smart-home systems will improve, leading to a better experience for homeowners and a better reputation for our industry.
For starters, Crestron has revamped their program for certified Master Programmers (who are widely considered the best of the best), and swapped in new requirements like more stringent examinations, additional course requirements, continuing education requirements, and attendance at their yearly “Masters Class” for certified programmers. All of that means a big boost in credentials and skills across the industry.
I got to see these changes up close and personal at Creston’s recent “Masters Summit” in New York, which brought together the majority of Crestron Certified Programmers. Along with OneVision’s Director of Technology Projects, Kevin Lotto (we’re both certified programmers and classically trained in computer science), we tackled as many classes as we could fit in our schedule.
The opening keynote included a presentation about Crestron’s research and development process, and gave us glimpses into what it takes to protect their supply chain from global upheaval and supplier shortages. (There are thousands of tiny components in most of Crestron’s newer products.) I’d toured some of Crestron’s R&D and testing facilities in the past, but this gave me a much more in-depth look at what their processes are like right now. It was reassuring to know that the folks at Crestron are thinking long and hard about how to make sure that we can always get the parts we need, when we need them. It’s also good to know that they are testing all of their hardware more thoroughly, which will hopefully eliminate the batches of bad hardware that we sometimes ran into in the past.
All of our classes were taught by Crestron employees or certified programmers who work at high levels in our industry. We learned about Digital Media Diagnostics from members of Crestron’s Advanced Technical Support Group, high-level tech support specialists who are tasked with fixing some of the most difficult support requests. We also learned about Touch Screen Streaming from the manager of Crestron’s User Interfaces group. This high-level training will allow us to create high quality video distribution systems and implement more robust camera monitoring on our clients’ touch panels. This helps us with varied applications such as sharing the same cable box throughout a property, or using touch screens as video baby monitors.
One of the last classes we took was a session on mycrestron.com, Crestron’s new residential monitoring system. We’re now testing the system’s features in-house, and it will likely be a complement to the Ihiji network management platform we currently deploy as part of all of our technology projects. Another class that will quickly be making its way into my R&D schedule: the Programming for Scalability session. Leveraging new features in the latest processors will give us more flexibility in designing and implementing large-scale systems for our clients.
Of course, no summit’s complete without a chance to network (and have some fun!) with fellow programmers. Kevin proved he’s a bit of a card shark at Casino Night. (Good thing we were all playing with house money!) Personally, my only contribution was selling half of my dessert to the dealer for a fake $500 bill. But, hey, given the bounty of new tools and intel I brought home with me to put to work for OneVision, I’d argue that I came home anything but empty-handed.