Hello, We're Glad You Made It! Welcome to the Future . . .

Prescient comedy group The Firesign Theater once exclaimed:

"This is the future. Yes, live in the future now . . . it's right around the corner!"

Not a bad way to describe the upcoming Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association's CEDIA Expo '98, coming to New Orleans September 9-13. On hand will be the new "Home of Electronic Lifestyles" exhibit, which aims to "demonstrate the ultimate in home-systems integration." According to a Frost & Sullivan survey completed for CEDIA, the custom electronics industry has grown from $760 million to $1.36 billion in the last three years.

"It heard the word power and it responded! Just like we do!"

"By integrating electronics systems, it's possible to use a mobile phone to turn on the lights, cool off the house, and start some soothing music---an environment to calm the nerves after a long drive home in bumper-to-bumper traffic," said Billilynne Keller, CEDIA's executive director. "In this way, the consumer is buying a whole new lifestyle."

The "Home of Electronic Lifestyles" will showcase just such a home automation system, featuring a touchscreen remote operating a complete high-definition television setup, along with a multi-zone audio/video system. A digital phone and front-door intercom system with a camera and accessories are included, as well as integrated lighting control, a grand player piano, and motorized shades.

The point of all this, of course, is to simplify the increasingly complex role of electronics in the home. According to CEDIA, a home with an integrated system would have a central control panel to operate all applicable components, including entertainment, lighting, security, heating, and cooling systems. Multiple remote controls are eliminated, and repetitious tasks, such as arming the security system, turning off unnecessary lights, setting thermostats at night, watching a movie, and turning off appliances, can all be automated.

The CEDIA Expo will also feature an HDTV Pavilion for viewing the various display options that will be part of the 1998 rollout of digital television. For those not able to make the CEDIA Expo, following the show, the "Home of Electronic Lifestyles" will travel to other home-related trade shows in the US.

"The Future is fun! The Future is fair! You may already have one! You may already be there!"