Xantech President Graham Hallett is Plugged in to the Future of AV
NAME: Graham Hallett
OVERTIME: Xantech is celebrating 40 years of innovation in 2011. Company president Graham Hallett reveals his views on the company, its past successes, and its future strategy for growth.
SCN: As a supplier of IR solutions, how does Xantech plan to address the growing market for IP-based connectivity solutions?
Graham Hallett: Xantech has always been on the cutting edge with connectivity solutions. As early as 1983, our Xtra Link IR allowed a multi-room IR control solution over existing wiring, and then we followed in 2005 with the first IP-based solution: the Xtra Link IP, which utilized an IP network, allowing control of RS-232 devices over an existing IP network. Today and in the future, IP via wireless communications or networks, including cellular, are the cornerstone of our industry. Xantech saw this trend as it developed, which is why our WIC1200 Web Intelligent Controller, launched in 2009, already had a web server built in. We can host a web control page that any web device, like an iPad or other web-based tablets, can access and utilize for commercial or residential control applications.
The Xantech team in action (L to R): David Scofield, director of marketing and communications for The AVC Group; Robert Naugle, Xantech national training manager; Graham Hallett, Xantech president; Tom Harvey, U.S. director of sales; Sandra Gutierrez, senior customer service rep for Xantech.
SCN: How does Xantech view the “blending” of the traditionally distinct residential and commercial markets?
GH: The trend in the home, to send content wirelessly to different places, will work its way into the commercial sector, and now the commercial trend of videoconferencing is working its way into residential, with the likes of Skype and FaceTime. This is becoming so popular that TVs are starting to come Skype-ready. The basic needs of the customer—easily manageable content and intuitive operation—will remain constant in both markets.
SCN: How does Xantech design products to meet the needs of both residential and commercial installers and integrators?
GH: Xantech has always been close to its dealer and customer base, developing market-driven products and solutions. In commercial, our WIC1200 combines two of every port into a single device for a wide range of solutions for the ever-evolving conference room. From IR to IP, the WIC1200 covers it all. In residential, many clients now manage music and media services through a smartphone or other handheld device. Getting that music into an installed AV system can be a challenge, especially if the client does not want to bother with docking stations or cables. The BDXTT Bluetooth interface provides that full-fidelity, reliable wireless connection between an AV system and any handheld Bluetooth A2DP-enabled device, such as a smartphone, PC, or tablet.
SCN: How is Xantech addressing or planning to address the needs created by a world where systems and components need to “talk” and “connect” wirelessly to each other?
Scofield (left) and Hallett collaborate on marketing Xantech’s commercial and residential offerings.
GH: Wireless is definitely the future, especially with technologies that have come out recently, including Apple’s AirPlay, where you can wirelessly transmit content throughout your entire home or establishment. Xantech were prescient when we chose to have webserver inclusion in all of our IP-based products. But “wireless” does not involve just an IP network—it’s about cellular-based networks too. We’re seeing content stored everywhere, on the cloud for example, and of course Xantech is looking to smoothly integrate all of these future solutions into AV control.
SCN: What commercial market segments offer installers and integrators the greatest growth potential?
GH: Education. The days of having a single AV cart for a school system or college are long gone. If a classroom doesn’t have at least a projector, LCD display, or some type of integrated AV system, they are truly behind the times. Whether it’s an older school being renovated or a new school system coming online, there are possibilities for every classroom to have some form of AV and AV control put into that classroom. The biggest thing will be to provide contractors and system integrators the right products for their customers, who ultimately are teachers who need an easy-to-use, intuitive AV system.
SCN: How is Xantech evolving as a member of the AVC Group?
GH: Within the group, Xantech is in the enviable position of being a complement to each of the other brand’s product lines. Today, and increasingly in the future, we will be designing and manufacturing the connectivity tools and solutions that our sister brands Elan, Niles, Sunfire, and ATON utilize in their applications. Our engineering teams are already immersed in a far-reaching and collaborative effort to create technology platforms that all the brands can benefit from. We are the source for leading-edge connectivity solutions within the group and that position will only become more important in the future.