The Jetsons Fallacy — Part I

Image courtesy of Rachael Dunk

As a kid, I remember, visiting my uncle Robert’s house out in Roslyn, NY and being so enamored with his fancy theater, jam packed with gadgets like a state-of-the-art laser disc player and a 120” projector. With the push of a button, the lights would dim, a projector screen would drop from the ceiling, and video would play in glorious 5.1 surround sound. As far as I was concerned, it was like the Jetsons had come to life.

Obviously, this system wasn’t available to just anyone. Robert was — and still is — one of the world’s best Crestron installers, and because of my relationship with him, I was fortunate enough to have been employed as a Crestron installer between semesters in college. Being young and inexperienced, I wound up having the job of cable runner, which really means I lugged massive spools of cat5 and speaker wire around a series of enormous gutted homes in the Hamptons. I ran wire all over the home, through wall studs, and under floors. I meticulously labeled and categorized each strand so that the programmers and installers knew how to connect each device to the network.

I worked with architects, project managers, and subcontractors. The resulting orchestra of systems and personnel was impressive enough to justify the lofty six-figure price tags that these systems carried. As luck would have it, in 2009 I decided to join Crestron as a Software Architect, and wound up leading a team of engineers and designers tasked with creating their next-generation tools and interfaces. We built beautiful software that solved complex integration problems and created carefully thought-out user experiences.

While at Crestron, my team’s product won countless awards at CEDIA and Infocomm, garnered significant press, and solved major installation, configuration, and usability problems truly representative of a next-generation solution.

After several years of experience in the industry though, I realized that this symphony of contractors, architects, programmers, and dealers could never scale to a broader audience. These systems were carefully installed, programmed, and designed for the ultra-rich, meaning that the Jetsons home would remain a mirage for all but a few. Hence the fallacy….

All those years of hard work led to me having an epiphany: I was solving the wrong problem. In the next post, I will talk about the state of the industry following the acquisition of Nest by Google in January 2014, and how we at Astro are building a startup to address the resulting changes in the consumer landscape.

Until next time,

Shaun

CEO & Founder of Twist

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