Password Management in AV Projects

Password management is a challenge within an audio-visual (AV) project, just as it is for individual households and businesses. AV integrators use default admin passwords to simplify the hardware installation and credential management. But new infrastructure security laws are on the horizon, requiring AV integrators and installers to be more careful with privileged passwords. 

On January 1, 2020, California implemented legislation through Senate Bill 327 that requires a unique preprogrammed password for each device. The UK is working on similar legislation called The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) Bill that will take effect in 2022. Breaking these laws has significant penalties. So, AV integrators should pay attention. 

Unique Password Challenges for AV Integrators 

The new regulations mean that AV Integrators need to make password change management an integral part of the project planning. Integrators and installers have to set up unique passwords and have a reliable way to manage the individual passwords for subsequent administration of the controller boxes and connected AV devices. 

Generally, an installer is the first person to touch an AV controller. But after the setup, the installer should not have visibility of the newly set password. So, AV integrators need a method to set passwords securely for multiple devices. 

But multiple unique passwords create a scalability problem. When AV integrators connect to the hardware remotely for maintenance, they have to factory reset the units and start with default passwords. It can complicate hardware maintenance and become a bottleneck. 

Our approach for More Efficient Password Management 

At Lighting Control, we set up a complex common password for all devices during the commissioning phase of an AV project. We can work faster without dealing with unique passwords at this stage. Then, at the end of the commissioning process, we use scripting tools to improve the security of the systems and add multiple user accounts. 

But if the scripting tools use plain text configuration files, the control passwords and IP configurations are easily accessible. It can become a potential security risk. So, we found that the best solution is to use PowerShell scripts with Active Directory (AD) accounts. As a result, the passwords are encrypted. It ensures that installers and users can run the scripts without accessing the credentials directly. 

We hope our password management best practices help you with your AV projects. If you are interested in our AV products and AV consultancy services, please feel free to contact us today. 

Neil Silver Crestron CSP

Neil Silver

Lead Developer LCD – Crestron Programmer , CSP

Managing the Development and Custom Programming Teams on a day to day basis and responsible for Product Design and Project Oversight.

Interfacing with Technology Trends in Touching Less

Seven years on from the launch of the Amazon Alexa, we are still finding our way into touchless control of hardware and software. Voice technology has matured, and so has our understanding of when and how to use it. Other touchless solutions are now emerging and provide options in many situations. Implementing these new solutions and seeking acceptance and adoption from users is key to the evolution of touchless interfaces. 

The Changing Landscape of Touchless Technology 

Touchless technology allows users to control systems and devices without physical contact. In a post-pandemic world, audio-visual (AV) manufacturers are using existing and new technologies to create solutions that can help people return safely to public facilities like offices, hospitals, schools, hotels, and restaurants. The 2020 estimate for the gesture recognition and touchless sensing market was around 23.6 billion US dollars. 

Like AV manufacturers, AV system integrators are also thinking creatively. Integrators are combining multiple technologies to create more holistic solutions for their clients. They are designing touchless systems to automate door access, control meeting room equipment, and manage lighting, video, and digital signage.  

Here are a few noticeable trends in touchless experiences: 

QR Code and BYOD Control Apps 

Shared screens, buttons, and remote controls are popular control mechanisms for building management systems. But shared devices spread germs, and they are vulnerable to vandalism, theft, and displacement. So, AV manufacturers and system integrators are harnessing the power of QR codes, custom apps, and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) philosophy to build touchless AV systems. These systems require minimal infrastructure investment.  

Mobile apps, phone cameras, and wearable devices are replacing shared control devices. For example, A QR code can be placed in the room in printed form and displayed on one of the screens. Users can download an app on their devices and scan the QR code to gain control of the meeting room equipment. It eliminates the need for touching the equipment controls to activate the screens, microphones, and cameras. Crestron One and Atlona Velocity are examples of QR-based BYOD control. 

Touchless Access Control 

Public facilities require access control for physical and digital security. But keycard-based access control adds a lot of bureaucracy. Issuing keycards to employees and visitors takes up time and resources. 

Mobile app-based access control systems are faster and more efficient. Multifamily, commercial, and office spaces can use the apps to issue visitor permits, log visitation information, and track arrivals and departures. The systems can be enhanced using face recognition technology. A robust software-based access control solution automates the processes and decreases security errors. No more dangling keycards that someone forgot to deactivate. 

Voice-Controlled Scheduling Systems 

Digital assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are crossing over to commercial applications. Businesses are using these voice technologies to install AV systems that respond to scheduling requests. Whether users want to book a conference room or connect to a remote location during a meeting, voice assistants are becoming part of modern enterprise infrastructure. AV Integrators are installing voice controllers in conference rooms and shared public spaces. The no-touch automation of scheduling tasks is providing a better user experience for AV customers. 

AirPlay for Touchless Content Sharing 

Apple AirPlay has made video streaming, screen mirroring, and file sharing easier over wireless connections. Meeting attendants can share content without using a dongle or a wired device. Also, users are already acquainted with the AirPlay user interface. So, familiarity has led to more customers using touchless content sharing.  

For AV integrators, wireless and touchless content sharing has simplified equipment installation and maintenance. Integrators have fewer wired connections and proprietary software to consider. It has decreased their workloads and freed up resources. 

Evolution of Audio Control with Alexa and Other Voice Assistants 

Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are becoming central control systems for enterprises and small businesses. Voice assistants started as simple audio search engines, and they were initially useful only for digital information queries. But, they have entered the realm of the physical world with the help of the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Today voice assistants have become a crucial part of controlling smart homes and offices. With voice assistants, users can control lighting, elevators, conferencing systems, digital displays, security cameras, door locks, and more. Voice technology providers let organizations integrate custom AV control systems through application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs). 

The Impact of Voice Assistants In the Professional AV Environment 

For AV integrators, voice technology has changed the design, installation, and implementation of AV systems. Initially, AV integrators assumed voice assistant integration would require more proprietary hardware and software installations. However, as the technology matures and more wireless and IoT-based solutions come into the market, voice assistant technology makes AV integration easier.  

AV manufacturers are using Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Google Nest as an integral part of their design. It is leading to more standardized solutions and opening new opportunities. AV integrators can use the standard APIs and SDKs to design customized solutions compatible with multiple AV vendors. 

Touchless Solutions for Assistive Technology 

A side benefit of touchless user interfaces is that the solutions provide more accessibility. Disabled people can use voice-activated controls to open doors, turn on lights, or activate and control AV equipment. 

The Future of Touchless Solutions 

Touchless technology has come a long way. But it is still an evolving field. New and exciting developments are already on the horizon. Here are a few things that might be interesting: 

  • Motion Capture and Gesture Recognition: Advanced motion sensors will make it easier to control AV environments without any additional control devices. It might remove the necessity for BYOD devices. Combining voice recognition, face recognition, and gesture control will make the new systems true touchless experiences. 
  • Mind-Controlled Interface: Scientists are developing brain-computer interfaces. These interfaces will allow users to issue commands without using voice technology. It will open new avenues for no-touch applications. 
  • Haptic Interface: A challenge of using touchless technology is the absence of touch. Our brains have a difficult time understanding objects without tactile sensations. Haptic interface generates the feeling of touch, allowing users to manipulate objects more accurately. Imagine drawing on-screen using your fingers and having more tactile feedback during the process. 

Touchless technology has already transformed the AV industry, and we can expect more innovations to bring better solutions in the future. If you want to learn more about implementing touchless technology and our consultancy services, please feel free to contact us today. 

“Alexa: please partner Crestron”

The announcements in the CI press at the start of September announcing Amazon Alexa partnership and Sonos partnerships started a frenzy of chatter Crestron developer community both on unofficial and official forums. Now nearly into October and now technical detail on either of the releases has been made. The frustration for the integrators and system designers is that the residential end users have all seen the same press releases promising slick integration but the programmers don’t know what and how they are going to deliver.

Reading the Alexa Amazon keynote to the Cedia membership which seemed to trigger all the press releases  Charlie Kindel ( what a great name to have working at Amazon!) says “We want to partner with all of you.”

He goes on to bring on example of the big players in the market including Crestron and Lutron who  “boast an Alexa integration of their own” but again we are still waiting to see what these integrations will look like.

[h3]Crestron : special case for Alexa ; Custom Skill ; Smart Home Skill ?[/h3]

I started playing with the Alexa Skill kit back at the start of the summer but as the Alexa had not yet been released in the UK ( arriving tomorrow!) I limited my development to some minor projects discovering the architecture which is governed by Amazon.

There are two interaction skill types:     Custom skill and Smart Home Skill

A Custom skill is the fully flexible skill where the developer must define the requests the skill can handle (intents) and the words users say to invoke those requests (utterances).

The architecture of the smart home skill is a less flexible version of the custom skill where API pre-defines requests and utterances

For this type of skill, the Smart Home Skill API defines:


The requests the skill can handle. These requests are called device directives. Examples include:

turn on / turn off
increase / decrease the temperature
change the dimness or brightness for a light

The words users say to make (or invoke) those requests. For example:

“turn off the living room lights”
“increase the temperature by two degrees”
“dim the living room lights to 20%”

The Cnet article and others talk about a change ,presumably to the home skills utterances allowing ‘home scenes’ in addition to lighting and heating which are currently the only supported.

                                               “Those scene controls are a new trick in Alexa’s toolkit.

                                                                 Until recently, Amazon’s voice-activated virtual assistant

                                                                                                could control individual lights and thermostats”

The Crestron press release talks about leveraging the Alexa Voice Service to “build voice controlled scenes”

The same article goes onto quote Crestron VP John Clancy and him talking about some customised commands that with some conditional logic (for e.g. based on time of day will carry out different tasks based on the time of day.

“The trade-off with those customised commands is that they aren’t native to Alexa’s programming, so you’ll need to add some extra verbiage to your command so that she knows what skill to access. Specifically, you’ll need to say “tell Crestron” before each command, as in “Alexa, tell Crestron it’s too dark in here.”

The above for me reading bewteen the lines is describing a Custom Skill with “Crestron” as the invocation name  and “it’s too <dark> in here”  is the intent and dark is the slot(parameter)

And as discussed in the Crestron press release we can expect some modules deployed for 3-series processors in October and for Pyng which will in some way allow easy integration.

[h3]Alexa Integrates with a Cloud Device Service [/h3]













Alexa Home Skill Kit requires a couple of different sections of coding to get everything working.

The First is the Skills API which Amazon provides.

The 2nd is the AWS Skills Adaptor (which must be hosted on AWS) – This receives the request from the Smart home API and translates this to a API request on the Device Cloud.

This is where it gets interesting as for the Smart Home Skills  home inking using Oauth2 is mandatory.

Now Crestron is well placed here as myCrestron is a cloud service that crestron has developed which is due to have a REST API released in the near future. Im sure that it will be possible to add an OAuth2 capability to the myCrestron device Cloud.

[h3]Alexa Controlling Sonos … controlling Crestron[/h3]

Sonos have also recently announced new partnerships and controlled access to their API.  The most exciting is the ability of Alexa to control the Sonos system which tied up with multiple Amazon Dots could mean a Sonos multiroom audio system controlled with Alexa as the sole controller.

One of the other preffered partners is Spotify with hints that users will be able to control their Sonos content using the native Spotify app both on Mobile and desktop.

This gives the potential of mutliple controlling systems , Alexa, Spotify App and Crestron all controlling the Sonos Content.  The stability of this kind of system will be reliant on two way reporting between these systems to allow the user to seamlessly chose their preferred control surface for that instant and in the case of the app or a Crestron Panel reflect correctly the current situation.

This is the controls love triangle if you will!

Exciting times in CI —  the voice revolution is here Echo arrive in the UK on the 28th of September.



Also worth a look at the video from Cedia showing the Scene and Crestron Skill working at the Alexa Booth.

Neil Silver CTS,CSP

Is a developer working in controls and automation for corporate and residential Audio Visual


Crestron Simpl#  , jQueryUI, PHP, Node.js, C#

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