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CEDIA Expo 2021: The IMCCA and the Innovation Hub

2021 CEDIA Expo Innovation Hub features presentations from Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance on WFH solutions.

CEDIA Expo 2021: The IMCCA and the Innovation Hub
Ed Wenck

David Danto, Director of Emerging Technology for the Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance, will be a very busy man at this year’s CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis. Danto and the IMCCA have partnered with Expo to host a number of key presentations via the Innovation Hub, which includes a “Model Home Office” illustrating best-practice set-ups for remote work, as well as sessions on a broad range of other residential tech solutions.

IMCCA also has a session on the Smart Stage, “The World of Hybrid Collaboration Post-Pandemic,” hosted by the CIO of Zoom, Gary Sorrentino, also an IMCCA Board Member.

Even though they’ve been around for more than two decades, this is IMCCA’s first foray into Expo – and it’s a direct result of the pandemic.

“We’ve all lived through these last 16, 17 months where we learned that the home is the place where you work,” he says, adding, “I’ve honestly been blogging about this for 20 years.”

Danto was an early adopter of the work-from-home model – he’s also director of UC strategy and research at Poly, a firm that makes state-of-the-art videoconferencing solutions. “For years, there was a negative connotation around remote-work,” he says.

“But now we know this model is incredibly effective for a lot of employees.”

Since CEDIA is all about the residential space, it made sense for Danto and others – including the aforementioned Zoom and Poly, Cisco, Jabra. That lineup is a point of pride for Carol Zelkin, executive director of the IMCCA.

“These high-value names reinforce that the working from home segment is here to stay and help to provide a bigger focus on resimercial and the future of home offices and workstation topics,” says Zelkin.

The Flush Test

Beyond the widespread cultural acceptance of the notion of remote work – and real-world metrics that proved that productivity wasn’t affected at all by the “WFH” model – the technical challenges created this tectonic shift needed to be addressed.

First things first: Would the platforms hold up? “When it came to unified communications, we finally had the ‘flush test.’ Everybody went home and flushed their toilets at exactly the same time to see if the plumbing exploded,” says Danto. (Spoiler alert: The pipes held.)

Related: 5 Tips To Making Digital Events Just As Effective As In Person

The next issue was the sudden adoption of less-than-great DIY solutions. “Companies said to their workers: ‘Here’s a hundred bucks, go buy something at best buy or Amazon or whatever. Employers didn’t know what the quality was like – heck, they didn’t even know if that piece of equipment exists.”

This, of course, is where a pro comes in – and where terms like “resimercial” (the blurring of the lines between commercial and residential integration projects) become more than just buzzwords.

The Right WFH Solutions

The sessions presented at the Innovation Hub and the Smart Stage will cover the fundamentals – fundamentals that have only presented themselves recently.

Danto explains: “We learned people don’t do as well when they’re at the kitchen table.” A dedicated space, it turns out, is key to the mindset of a worker feeling like they’re actually “at work.” “The next most important piece, oddly enough, is lighting,” Danto says.

“If you’re going to be doing good quality video from home, you’ll have to understand broadcast lighting, production rules, high-quality audio and high-quality video.”

There’s a lot of components to consider – Danto’s fond of several inexpensive lights he owns that creates the “three-point” solution that makes him look good on camera. (For audio and video, he’s partial to his company’s P15 device.) Danto and his colleagues are also cognizant of the well-being of the expanding remote workforce, hence the addition of a presentation titled “Preventing Home Office Burnout and/or Video Fatigue,” moderated by Tim Albright of AVNation.

The Enterprise

Beyond that, the considerations of the corporate ecosystem will be addressed in the session called “Creating A Home Office for The Advanced Enterprise.”

Danto says, “I’ve heard from a number of the exhibitors that they’re going to be bringing a small smattering of some of their commercial products to the show — not necessarily to sell to the integrators, but to understand that when you’re setting up a home office, it almost inherently means you’re connecting it to part of an enterprise. So what is that experience like? What do you need to know about the commercial space in order to do residential?

“It’s great for a residential integrator to know that, yes, I can give you a $100 webcam or I can give you a $400 webcam, which is going to make you look fantastic. And your company is always going to know it’s there and you’re not going to have to be rebuying it every few months. And we can do firmware updates and we can make sure your bandwidth is appropriate for calls, and we can give you support remotely.

“This whole new class of devices, purpose built for home use, is definitely something that the residential integrators going to want to know about.”