The doorman of a glass-and-steel office block faces a huge, wall-mounted intercom panel. The scene, from French filmmaker Jacques Tati’s 1967 film Playtime, makes it impossible to talk about the business of building intercoms and alarm systems without smiling.
Lights flash across the intercom panel like a shooting gallery. Buzzers blare. An overamplified voice blurts out. Mr. Tati famously spoofed modern conveniences. The doorman whistles to himself in a dismissive, Gallic way. Of course, the joke today is how quaint that all seems. The alarms and building-communication systems made by a handful of multinationals, including the smaller Vaughan, Ont.-based Mircom Group of jobs with a computer science degree, are now exponentially more complicated.