Widgets Magazine

Control Freak

This week’s edition of AVWeek is not the best I have ever done. In fact, it may be my worst job yet. Don’t listen/watch it. Harry Meade and Phil Cordell do a great job, it’s your humble host who stinks up the joint. So, my apologies first and foremost. I was obviously not on my game; distracted and a million thoughts in my head. It was not a good show from the hosting aspect.
One aspect that has really bothered me since recording on Friday is an exchange between Harry Meade and myself about the validity of control systems. This was spurred by a conversation about Apple getting into home automation and the proliferation of apps that control everything. At one point I was at a loss for words as to why we should even have control systems.
Let me be clear. The control and automation segment of the AV industry is a thriving and exciting place to live. Since my first control programming class I have remained in awe as to what we can accomplish with lines of code and the right interface. Is it changing? Sure. However it is changing and evolving into something more.
Not only will control and automation be the “one ring” to rule all the disparate control apps, it will also allow us the ability to do something they cannot; at least not currently. That is a standardized look and feel. When you open up a control app, you get whatever the programmer for that app wants you to have. You have no say in the look, feel, functionality, or really anything. You are at the mercy of the programmer. That is the beauty of putting in a control system. You are the architect of the interface and of what you control.
This week I wrote code for a simple system that had an unusually complex part. It was a digital switcher that had sixteen inputs. Well, who wants sixteen buttons statically taking up the middle of your panel? So, I put in a sliding bar that scrolls through the sixteen inputs. Now, I had never done this before, so my good friend Rich Fregosa helped me out… quite a bit. See, that is the beauty of these systems. You can do anything. Seriously anything. If it can talk on any mechanical (relay) or language level (232/IP) you can control it. If you can control it, you can automate it. If you can automate it, you don’t have to think about it.
All of this to say, I’m sorry for the horrible job I did on this week’s show. I’ll do better this coming week. Also, control continues to be the most exciting part of the AV industry, at least for me.
Thanks for taking time to read my blog. Have a great week.

About Author

Tim Albright is the founder of AVNation and is the driving force behind the AVNation network. He carries the InfoComm CTS, a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing an M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. When not steering the AVNation ship, Tim has spent his career designing systems for churches both large and small, Fortune 500 companies, and education facilities.

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