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Crestron Did Not Invent Digital

“You can blame us, but we didn’t invent digital.” That’s how Jeff Singer wraps up his thoughts about seeing Crestron’s six-year experience with digital media (or rather Digital Media) reverberating across this year’s Infocomm. He knows digital is hard–he knows that from three generations of DM, and thousands of installs where every difficult and mysterious gotcha turned into a new, better feature of DM. In his talks he covers at least one such story about a Harvard Business School install. It’s a good one: about a sort of one-way encryption valve…well anyway if you’ve ever stood on site with a weird frustrating mystery on your hands only to gape in disbelief when it’s solved, go hear him tell this story. And look at the upcoming 64×64 switch (pictured).img_0312.JPG

Singer says one reason there’s more digital at this year’s Infocomm is that the Valens chip that enables HDMI over Cat5–which Crestron has been working with for some time in partnership with Valens–was released into the wild and is now in several products on the show floor. But one of Singer’s key points is that the chip alone was not enough to make HDMI over unshielded CAT5 acceptable for our industry. Hence the Valens partnership and the resulting DM firmware that debuted two weeks ago. Singer is not shy about adding this to the list of reasons why Crestron’s street cred in digital is the real deal, earned in the field, resolved in the lab.

it’s certainly true that Crestron has taken a platform/ecosystem approach to digital media that has been largely additive–whether in terms of perfecting signal processing for the platform as a whole or in adding elements to the system to solve workflow needs. Singer pulls out just one example: a simple black box that just let’s you break out the audio from the HDMI signal so you can send it to powered speakers, amps or receivers.

From his viewpoint, digital is evolving at breakneck speed now and the management of signal and data is an ongoing quest–one in which, Singer emphasizes, experience matters and so does a cohesive, systems-based approach. “DM is a dynamic living breathing ecosystem because while analog is pretty predictable digital is not. Every source communicates and responds differently so you cannot anticipate what’s going to happen without experience. Over the last few years and several thousand installations each one required that we resolve a new issue. Each time we took that experience and built into DM the intelligence to handle that situation.” Of his competitors with first-generation digital product he candidly says, “They don’t know what they don’t know.”

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The editors of Sound & Video Contractor post live from InfoComm as the news happens. Check back several times a day for the latest industry news, reports from press conferences, and product introductions.


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