You, Integrated: A Brief History of the Integration of the Universe
I am really pumped up to be writing this new column for Technology Integrator magazine. I want to invite you to join me here each month for a lively discussion exploring the amazing world of integration.
Sir Isaac Newton ‘discovered’ gravity, the unseen force that holds the universe together, holds the planets in their orbits, and keeps you and I from flying off into space. Like gravity, integration has always been here holding things together. We just didn’t recognize it.
We never really understood much about this until the dawn of integration in 1904, when Ernest Hamwi put the first scoop of ice cream onto his waffle cone at the St. Louis World’s Fair. The ice cream cone still stands today as the preeminent model of successful integration. Am I serious? Well, consider this. The integrator combined two existing products to make them work better together. This pairing solution improved the customers’ experience and created the ideal user interface. In over 100 years, no one has improved on this design.
Speaking of great patents, I knew a mischievous teenager who was always getting into trouble. He would take telephones apart to experiment with odd circuits he found at electronic stores. He would rewire everything, eavesdrop, and infuriate his family because the dial tones in their phones were all wrong. There was no stopping his obsession until one day he even stole a police radio to rewire it.
I figured his crazy antics would put him behind bars before he was 20, but I was dead wrong. Instead, he became a leading technology integrator simply by pairing the IP with the camera. Just like the ice cream and cone, the two parts were already there—they were just waiting for someone to put them together. These days, he flies a private jet and the Pentagon calls him up when they need something special.
The best integration is innovative; it’s also the simplest. The best integration works with a wide range of needs and stands the test of time.
In my younger days, I fell in love with the music of the Beatles and aspired to become a guitarist. I pursued this wholeheartedly and was standing on stage just eight feet away from Jimi Hendrix while he burned his guitar. Wow! That fired me up. I attended the Institute of Audio Research before beginning a career in sound, and found my first jobs installing commercial sound systems and phone systems, working in recording studios, and on video productions and all kinds of computer technology.
Confident that I could succeed, I started Artistic Sound, a small business in Aspen, Colo., and Telluride, Colo., where I sold and installed very high-end home theater systems for a long list of celebrities. This was during the early days of the home theater explosion, and a typical installation left homeowners with a daunting pile of remote controls on their coffee tables. Even those homeowners who invested a bundle for the most expensive audiophile equipment had a frustrating time just turning on the video projector or TV and getting the DVD picture and surround sound to play.
That was when I discovered ‘integration.’ AMX and Crestron had been selling control systems for corporate boardrooms, but at that time it was a novel idea to adapt them for homes. My first steps were to replace the pile of remotes with a single touch screen control system that included macros and status sensors that all came together on one screen. This integration of remote controls made my clients very happy.