It might seem like déjà vu since I wrote about the introduction of Kramer Control on day 1 of InfoComm last year, but there’s good reason to check out Kramer Control on day 1 of InfoComm 2017, too. Kramer has inventory and is taking orders and shipping its cloud-based, scalable, no-programming required, data-collecting control platform that COO Clint Hoffman says is rewriting the rules of automation.
Let’s recap a little bit. What’s so different about Kramer Control?
- It’s cloud-based.
- Kramer markets it as a “control and management” solution, in part because Hoffman says “the single biggest difference” between Kramer Control and most automation solutions “is how it captures data” related to room usage, device health, system usage and energy consumption and then presents on a dashboard.
- It’s targeted at IT/AV managers with a goal of letting them easily control, monitor and support both AV system infrastructures and third-party devices.
- It’s “highly scalable” and “has no single point of failure,” which Kramer says is accomplished by leveraging existing IP network infrastructures and due to its distributed architecture.
- No traditional programming is required.
Let’s focus on that last point about programming. When I talked to Hoffman about Kramer Control last year he explained that the new cloud-based control platform was influenced by Kramer’s previously released K-Touch and that it was developed with iRule, an automation company it acquired in December 2016. Kramer Control, he said, offers drag-and-drop configuration without need for programming
“K-touch was a jumping off point. We’re taking it to an entirely different level,” Hoffman said. Kramer Control “is modern, built from the ground up, smart, aware, one brain in your system. [It] will be able to communicate with every other brain without the need for programming.”
I talked iRule’s Itai Bengal who worked with Kramer on the development of Kramer Control:
“We wanted to do something very modern and take everything that we’ve learned and build on that,” Bengal said.
“One of the things we’ve seen in our industry is that new people coming in are looking for new, faster, more efficient ways to do things they used to do. What used to be done with lines of code and scripting can now be done with simple drag-and-drop. We’ve made it faster and more intuitive and we’ve seen a huge uptake in younger and less seasoned experts and still allowing them to create some beautiful and interactive projects.”
What Kramer Control Says about the Market
At Infocomm 2017 Hoffman seems focused not just on the benefits of Kramer Control but also on what the product reflects about the integration market.
For one thing, he emphasizes that Kramer Control represents Karmer’s embrace of software. “For a long time we have been a hardware manufacturer, but this convergence has happened and we need to have cloud-based and software solutions on top of our hardware solutions.”
Meanwhile, Hoffman says Kramer Control helps integration firms evolve their businesses by providing more recurring revenue opportunities.
“Data is the four letter word that we believe is the commodity of the future,” he says. Kramer Control captures system data for the customer “automatically and uploads to the cloud,” he says. “The data that you want is there from day one without the cost for programming.”
Kramer dealers pay a small fee to get access to a dashboard that they can provide to their customers, allowing them to analyze data and generate reports.
He adds that scalability is increasingly important as integration customers’ work spaces evolve. “We Kramer Control is infinitely scalable. Do a huddle space today and grow it to 1,000 rooms tomorrow.”
Each Kramer Control system has a “brain” which Hoffman likens to what other manufacturers would call a CPU. “You put a brain in every space you want to control,” he says, adding that the system automatically recognizes and configures each space.
Meanwhile, Hoffman says the barrier for entry to automation and data collection is greatly reduced, in part thanks to the lack of programming costs. There are two versions of the “brains.” One will be priced under $1,000 and the other under $1,500, he said.
Perhaps most importantly, Kramer Control is available now. “Last year we wanted to get it to market as soon as possible but we’re officially launching it [at InfoComm 2017],” Hoffman says.
The launch comes after some high-profile beta tests including at University of Ohio, Lucas Films, Best Buy Headquarters, NASA and a GM facility. After what Hoffman calls “those successful beta sites” Kramer Control is officially part of the integration market.
Now we’ll see if indeed it will rewrite the rules of programming.