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Crestron Electronics, Inc.

Crestron offers the only complete end-to-end solution with a complete line of hardware and software. Crestron not only connects and controls devices; we integrate and automate all the building systems to provide a connected experience. We deliver integrated solutions for audio, video, IP, lighting and climate control making wiring and installations easier and promoting system integrity.

Model: Crestron Control App for Zoom Rooms Software

The Crestron® Control App for Zoom Rooms® Software allows custom user interfaces to be added to the Zoom Rooms controller application using Crestron HTML5 User Interface and Crestron Construct™ techno
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Crestron’s DM NVX® AV-Over-IP Technology — A Brief History
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2024
Crestron’s DM NVX® AV-Over-IP Technology — A Brief History

How one of Crestron's most successful — and reliable — lines of products was created

Jan. 17, 2024 - When it was released in 2017, the DM NVX® AV-over-IP line of solutions represented the culmination of nearly five years of work. For Alex Peras, Crestron's VP of product and a big part of the team that developed the product, the reward for that half-decade of labor is more than monetary.

"The phrase I most often hear from customers is 'It just works,'" says Peras. One can tell immediately from any mention of the technology that every member of the team approached the project with a mission to make the product a truly best-in-class solution.

And now, with one million units shipped, the results are undeniable. "It has the lowest failure rate of any product we've ever produced," says Andrew Ludke, Crestron's senior director of product management.

Beginnings

A successful product is often built on the foundation created by solutions that preceded it — and the inspiration for the development of DM NVX AV-over-IP was an idea borne from several advancements. The impetus for creating Crestron's best-in-class AV-over-IP solution was a confluence of technologies.

First, there was the rise of compression technologies that enabled high-quality video to be delivered at low latency. "When it became clear that we could send that over the network at a price point that would be competitive with other technologies that were already employed, that was the real tipping point," says Ludke. Prior to that, HDBaseT® connectivity was a predominant technology — one that Crestron had built a big business around, and an offering that continues today.

The Problem of Scalability

As codecs evolved, the ability to deliver very high-quality video at very low latency was becoming increasingly achievable. There were other advantages, too: Traditionally, all of a system's video sources had to go through a core switch, which meant scalability was fairly complex. On a network, however, one can send AV signals anywhere, which renders the systems infinitely scalable. It rapidly became apparent that AV-over-IP was advantageous, especially in very large and asymmetric designs.

Most matrix switches had a fixed number of inputs and outputs. In many situations, an integrator would be faced with a small number of sources going to a lot of destinations, or a lot of sources going to a smaller number of destinations, asymmetrical designs — with a large, fixed matrix switch at the center. If a 16x16 switch initially met a firm's needs, but the company's growth demanded, say, more outputs, replacing the core switch was often a necessity. Not so with AV-over-IP, says Ludke: "On the network, there's tremendous scalability and no unused inputs or outputs."

Meeting the Challenges

Once the determination was made to set development in motion, the team began to sort through the challenges they'd need to overcome to make the Crestron solution really shine. "We knew that whatever solution the team brought to market had to work for a wide variety of use cases," says Peras.

This meant addressing the complexities of high-speed routing: Namely, the distribution of high-bandwidth video — something that had never been put on the network before. The key issues that had to be overcome were maintaining visually lossless image quality achieving near zero latency, while ensuring high reliability. Once those goals were met, the result was a solution that could be deployed in any vertical that Crestron serves, from stunning residential designs to secure government deployments and everything in between.

Security

The team knew they'd have to overcome some resistance to moving AV content distribution to the network. "We were fanatical about basing the solution on enterprise-class networking and security standards, and with that, we went the extra mile to prove this by achieving government certifications like FIPS, JTIC, and NIAP," says Ludke. The result enabled DM NVX technology to be specified for high-security environments. While many customers had historically preferred building dedicated AV networks, the effort was made to architect DM NVX technology for a truly converged enterprise network.

Prior to the introduction of solutions such as DM NVX AV-over-IP, networking was really the provenance of the IT department. Knowing this, the team built the DM NVX AV-over-IP technology from the ground up for what Ludke refers to as "the integrated network or a converged network infrastructure." The intention from the beginning was that Crestron solutions should be standards-based and secure so that customers feel comfortable deploying them on their IT-integrated infrastructure.

Building a New Codec

As the development team worked toward the 2017 release, they realized that the most commonly used codec for these solutions wasn't quite up to par. "When we came out with the product in 2017, we used a standard-based codec, which everyone else was using," says Peras, "but we recognized that there were flaws in it that impacted the quality and the latency for some of the use cases."

"One of the most significant issues was displaying static content — it simply wasn't up to our standards, and we knew it would negatively impact a wide variety of presentations," he adds. Motion video looked OK, but presenting, for example, a Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheet was not always a great experience. The answer: Working with Crestron's partners at Intopix, the team developed its own proprietary codec that could deliver flawless image quality with any content. It was a significant differentiator — and a big reason for the continued success and adoption of DM NVX technology.

Training — and More Training

Deploying these solutions (and then using them) with zero friction meant training. Crestron had experience in this realm, having already trained thousands of engineers to be successful with the DigitalMedia™ content distribution platform. A similar task was undertaken with DM NVX technology — but with an added layer: Creston needed to help technicians understand how to integrate the new technology into whatever network the enterprise had already chosen.

All of that meant providing the guidance our customers and integrators need to effectively communicate with IT and InfoSec teams, explaining what networking resources and architecture were required and which industry standards were employed. "There's nothing proprietary about how it fits into that infrastructure," says Ludke. On the security side, the team ensured that they used industry-standard enterprise security protocols to give InfoSec professionals complete confidence that they can securely and safely deploy Crestron products on their network. This initiative was about overcoming preconceived notions that AV on the network would lead to gaps in an organization's cybersecurity. "So whether that's 802.1x, Active Directory Integration or AES Encryption, it's a language they already know — it fits their ecosystem," adds Ludke.

 

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