From hybrid work solutions to residential and hotel systems, the Crestron booth at the ISE® trade show was all about the human experience in 2023
One of the biggest headlines from this year’s Integrated Systems Europe tradeshow: Sheer numbers. The exhibit halls at Fira de Barcelona yielded nearly 57,000 square meters of floor space (that’s more than 600,000 square feet for our American readers) — the biggest ever — and record attendance to match. The number of people walking the floor outpaced 2019, the last show before the pandemic began to disrupt things.
One of those attendees: the King of Spain, Felipe VI.
No less than 1,500 square meters of the Fira was occupied by the Crestron booth (or “stand” as exhibitor displays are referred to in the EU and the UK). To help visualize the scale, imagine roughly three and one-half NBA courts set side-by-side.
Despite its massive size, the booth had a very “human” feel, according to Michael Short, Crestron’s senior director of residential and hospitality marketing. “Everyone who came through quickly understood it was about the experience and interaction with the technology — It's not just black boxes on walls; it’s a connection with those spaces on a human level,” he says. “It was such a different experience this year,” adds Crestron Director of Product Marketing Lauren Simmen. “The word I kept hearing was ‘refreshing.’”
“It was a very strategic decision that we made to be much more focused on applications and experiences,” explains Sam Kennedy, Crestron’s senior director of product marketing. “We had a story to tell and a journey that we could take you on.”
The Sightline Experience: A Perfect Solution for Hybrid Work
Simmen notes that this was the first time that the ISE crowd actually got to see the complete, end-to-end Sightline Experience in action. “We had well over 2,500 people who experienced the room,” she says.
“It was nonstop,” says Kennedy. “Each demo was roughly five minutes long and accommodated 12 people, and we must’ve logged 200 sessions in that room,” he adds.
The Sightline display was constructed so that an attendee got the full experience: First outside the room, as a remote collaborator, and then in the conference space itself. “We had a game to get people talking, to trigger conversations so that they could see the camera key in on them as they spoke,” says Kennedy. Cards with questions were provided to the attendees. “One of the questions we asked was, ‘What would you most like to see at ISE?’ And the consistent response was, ‘Rooms like this. Innovations like this.’ It was very, very gratifying.”
Sightline — and the rest of the booth — also featured a “look behind the curtain” — a plexiglass-enclosed rack room to show the gear driving the experiences along with a simplified wiring diagram. It resonated. “I think we found the perfect balance of showing the technology in an application without too much overwhelming detail,” says Kennedy. “You didn’t really need to even have a tour guide to take you through it.”
AirMedia® Wireless Presentation and Active Learning
The popularity of the Sightline demo also triggered quite a bit of interest in the Crestron Active Learning display, says Simmen. “It was set up to look like a classroom, but in addition to the DM NVX solution being able to route video content, we also had cameras in there, too, and Automate VX to show how you can make those active learning spaces truly hybrid. You could see the realization dawn on people that this technology could easily be integrated into a classroom setting.”
“As near as I could tell, that was one of the most trafficked areas of our show,” she adds.
“Our AirMedia wireless conferencing system display also had a lot of traction,” says Simmen. She notes that the big draw here was less about technical aspects such as security or interoperability and much more about the product’s ease of use.
“We had two areas — one was really a lounge space,” she explains. As soon as attendees had a seat on the couch in that space, a Crestron rep would quickly get them connected. “Before they knew it, they were in a videoconferencing meeting with other people in the booth.” That instantaneous, friction-free connectivity was a huge selling point for those looking for a collaboration system that a single touch could trigger. “We saw the realization: ‘Oh, now I've changed the workflow, so I don't need to push out an app to my environment or my team. I can just connect directly through the dongle,” says Simmen.
Residential News: New Lighting Partners and PCR-4
Big residential news came out of the show, too: Savage Marine — a Crestron partner providing complete turnkey solutions for lighting aboard superyachts — announced that they’ll now be diving into the home segment, too (pun intended). “It will give our dealers their first partner to be able to handle custom, luxury tunable fixtures with Crestron.” (Speaking of water-borne tech, Crestron was also able to get in front of the leading specifiers in the marine industry at the Superyacht Summit on the Go, which was also part of ISE.)
The other big news for Crestron’s residential dealers: “The coming introduction of PC4-R — that’s Crestron Home software running on Dell PC hardware — solved a lot of issues for dealers who were waiting on devices,” says Short. “Some of what we heard was along the lines of ‘That'll solve 50% of my jobs that I'm looking at getting completed urgently’ — it was really well received.”
The booth also featured the first-ever “Hotel Crestron” — an experience that took attendees from check-in to a customized stay, all operating on Crestron gear.
“Hotel Crestron showcased exactly how we can piece together the perfect experience within guest rooms,” says Short. A big part of that experience involved showing how two key partnerships, Black Nova keypads and Bodhi, integrated with a full Crestron solution.
The display was a conversation starter. “That triggered a lot of both the commercial and the residential dealers to think about how they could bring a whole hotel together, from reception to checkout, all operating on a single platform,” says Short. “This wasn’t just relevant to resi dealers; this was a space that was technology agnostic. It could have been commercial lighting illuminating the space — it really didn't matter.”
Multiple Dwelling Unit Solutions
The hospitality concept is easily adapted to multiple dwelling unit installations. “The demo that we showed off illustrated the complete flexibility and scalability with the Crestron Home OS for the MDU solution,” says Short. As more and more apartment and condo blocks begin to turn up with retail or restaurant space on the bottom floor, more opportunities open up. “The small retail — bars, shops, restaurants on that ground level — can absolutely have a blend of Crestron residential and business solutions running through them.”
Short points out that when these projects are undertaken with buy-in from architects at the outset, the possibilities are limitless. “A dealer can start with a base package — something that doesn't take up much space or cost terribly much — and configure that in flat number one and then use a deploy code to scale at speed to the 100 other apartments above them.” From there, it’s a matter of upselling to the owner, customizing each unit for the individual end user.
“The other part of the MDU solution that we showed off was the property management solution via Bodhi,” he adds. “We were able to showcase how they can manage every single unit through the Crestron Home app. It’s more than pushing out scalable lighting schemes — it handles everything from asking for the valet to managing package delivery to making a reservation with that restaurant on the first floor.”
Awards and More
As for industry nods, Crestron picked up numerous awards at the show. The Top New Technology (TNT) Awards, handed out by the folks who publish both CE Pro and Commercial Integrator, gave Crestron honors for four different products:
Inavate also weighed in with a prize — with votes from no less than 20,000 AV pros, Crestron picked up the trophy in the “Communication & Collaboration” category for the AirMedia® wireless presentation and conferencing system.
AVNetwork handed out its annual AVTechnology awards, too, giving Crestron two top honors: Another feather for the DM NVX software offering as well as a prize for the Crestron Sightline solution in their 2023 “Best of Show ISE 2023” roundup. This publication utilizes an anonymous panel of judges who are experts in the field. Residential Systems had its own “Best of Show” slate and gave a first-place nod to the Crestron Home® OS.
Reports from the Floor
By all reports — and borne out by the spike in attendance — the mood was celebratory. Crestron’s Man About Town (and podcaster/vlogger/social media maven) Neil Fluester clearly enjoyed himself — as did his guests, including the award-winning team from Project AV, a Crestron dealer that’s installed literally thousands of units:
Fluester (actual title: global director of technology alliances) has much more on his LinkedIn page:
Crestron also rolled out the second edition of its print publication. “We’re elated to have launched the commercial version of Crestron’s Smarter Spaces magazine at ISE,” says Editor-in-Chief and Marketing Communications Director Crystal Watts. “Throughout the pages, we feature inspirational stories of workplace technology brought to life in ways that connect people and ideas, increase productivity, and unlock the next levels of success. This is an excellent tool for dealers to have in their showrooms to be given to potential clients so that they may learn about the benefits of Crestron and the latest and greatest trends in modern work.”
That publication will no doubt effectively communicate what the Crestron dealer community saw in Barcelona: A thriving, massive recommitment to every channel where Crestron has a footprint. “You know you’ve gotten a trade show right when your salespeople are happy,” says Kennedy.
“In fact, one of them said to me: ‘This is the booth I’ve always dreamed of.’”