The iPad failed to kill Crestron. Alexa and Google Assistant won’t either

Credit: Crestron

As Alexa and Google Assistant continue to dominate headlines, it’s easy to forget that there are plenty of venerable automation brands like Crestron out there with their own stake in the rise of the smart home.

According to IDC, smart speaker sales to rise from $4.4 billion to $17.4 billion by 2022.

Trevor Rooney, national Sales Manager Residential Markets ANZ at Crestron Electronics, says that this new wave of adoption of automation is a significant opportunity for the brand to reach customers it previously couldn’t.

He says that Crestron commercial arm has been “incredibly successful”, but - until now - the company’s residential division “hasn’t really had the focus its needed to drive it hard.”

“Crestron went through an evolution. Ten years ago, fifteen years ago, we sold touch panels. And the touch panels were $15,000-$16,000 thousand dollars and people bought them and they were fantastic and whatever else but then the iPad came along and the value of that disappeared very quickly - which makes sense. But it’s all flipped around quite a bit right now.”

He says that sales for $2000-$3000 touch panels are “better than ever for us because people want to know that if they need to go to a particular area that panel is going to be there, it’s always going to be charged, it’s always going to be on the right firmware.”

“For a couple of thousand dollars you can have a system with a little remote that will control your TV and sound system quite nicely. We’re also working quite hard in the aged care sector and also the disabled sector because this, for us, is really where voice control and touch control really comes into its own.”

According to Rooney, “Anyone who owns a cell phone is doing automation every day. Whether they know it or not, they have the concept that when they press a button they expect a reaction. Whether that’s playing music, whether that’s going to Bunnings and buying a globe and being able to turning that on and off so automation is here.”

“I think there's a lot of people out there who have bought Alexa or Google Home or have Siri on their phone and there’s only so many times when you buy something that you’ll say what’s the weather, what’s the time before you want to do more things - and that’s where Crestron comes in, Alexa being the front-end.”

Rooney says that “As it stands right now, most people think they want voice but they don’t really know why they want it but once you explain how it works they get pretty excited.

While the five-story Crestron home automation environment (designed and built by Kayder) Rooney demonstrated to us relied on connectivity between Amazon Alexa and Crestron’s suite of lighting, he says that this is only the beginning.

Credit: Crestron

Later this year, the brand plans to debut a new Crestron remote that’ll feature it’s own built-in microphone and voice assistant integration.

“When we pull the trigger later - which will be in the year - you’ll simply be able to talk press the microphone button and talk into this rather than talk into that. We’re very much focused on products that don’t have obsolescence. A lot of our products are overengineered to start with and they allow us to firmware upgrade as we progress and do various things.”

Rooney highlights the partnerships that Crestron has made in the automation space as another strong-point for the brand.

“We partnered with the right people. We put the time and effort into what we need to do to make that everything works. Along with Alexa, we remain partnered with Google. We remain agnostic - so we’re partnered with Google Home. We’re working with Apple on Siri integration for later in the year. And then, of course, when we talk about Sonos, we’re the only company with direct Sonos app integration within our ecosystem.”

“Traditionally, every other company would be a double click out of one app and into another to be able to control Sonos. What we’ve been able to do is to keep that within our system and again that’s through sitting with Sonos engineers and Crestron engineers and making sure that handshake becomes seamless.”

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