Guest Post by Tim Albright: Pinky and the Brain: Smart Building and the AV Industry

Tim Albright AVNation

“Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight? The same thing we do every night, Pinky; try to take over the world.” – Pinky and the Brain.

If you are of a certain age, the exploits and nightly quest to take over the world are familiar and nostalgic. Each night, they try to take over the world and are eventually thwarted by their own ignorance and incompetence.

From Crestron and their “integrated by design” to InfoComm 100’s smart building talk, the AV industry is beginning to march into the camps of other silo industries and “trying to take over the world.”  The only issue is, so are other disciplines.

As the technology manager of a small community college, we have looked into asset and building management from various viewpoints. We have both Extron and Crestron solutions for asset management. In addition, our facilities department has been introduced to “smart building” talk by Honeywell and Trane. The issue is not in getting the technology to talk to each other, it is getting the people to.

A number of companies have introduced their versions of building control and maintenance. Trane came to our campus not long ago for some training. I happened to sit in for another reason and was struck by how similar it was to AV manufacturer’s training. Not only in the style, but the content as well. Trane was demonstrating how they could communicate with lights, security, and other sources. I sat there thinking, “No, you’re an air conditioner.”  However, at the end of the presentation, they were espousing the same benefits of whole building management that InfoComm, Crestron, AMX, and others have mentioned. The only difference is that Trane already had the ear and confidence of the facilities team.

I am afraid that to people outside of the AV industry, our current march toward Smart Buildings may be viewed as that of small cartoon mice. Each year or so, our industry attempts to take over the world and we are undone by unforeseen speed bumps, or others’ unwillingness to have us at the table. Smart Building technology may be one of those times we have a shot of bringing disparate groups of people together, helping them talk to one another, and showing our worth while doing so.

My hope is that we will listen before speaking, and bring to the table what users want and not dump on them all the possibilities at once. In marking our steps, we will be able to sit at the big table and really contribute to the future of building management, instead of being relegated to controlling just the DVD player.

We may be able to take over the world.

About Tim Albright

Tim Albright is the Media Services Coordinator for Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, IL. He is a Certified Technology Specialist and DMC-D. He holds a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing a M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Tim is the founder of AVNation and host of the shows AVWeek and EdTech.