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What Will iPad’s Role Be in Home Automation?
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March 25, 2010 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Is Apple’s new hit a match made in heaven or a really bad combination?
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Posted by Doug  on  03/25  at  08:44 AM

Why go with a closed system product?  Use an open source one that you can customize if you want.  Android.  Haven’t we learned our lesson from MS, we no reason to beleive Apple will be any less authoritarian if they had market share control.  I know Apple products are well designed but they are expensive and you will be at the mercy of Apple.

Posted by Kevin  on  03/25  at  10:20 AM

Apple products are not at all expensive when you compare them with Crestron’s!  This is a HUGE deal for those of us with proprietary Crestron panels that only function as a home control interface.  The iPAD can now do all the couch-surfing activities as well as control my home control system.  I will seriously consider buying 3 more iPads to have around the house in addition to the 1 I’ve already pre-ordered that arrives next Saturday, April 3.  Apple as proprietary and closed system is an extreme exaggeration when you put it up against Crestron which is the ultimate closed system.  However, closed systems are reliable, fast, and resistant to 3rd party add-ons which impact the overall experience.  Crestron is widely considered rock solid, bullet proof stable, etc.  Apple’s iPAD takes that rock solid and brings just a BIT more openness.. perfect!

Posted by Brian  on  03/25  at  12:51 PM

My main gripe isn’t so much about the lack of availability with home automation stuff, it’s the entry-level price of the equipment!  Crestron is out of the question, Savant (as much as I admire what they’ve done with their equipment) is a close second.  I mean seriously, an entry-level price for a true home automation system from these guys STARTS at $5,000.  Oh, and then on top of that I need to toss in a bunch of cash for programming.  I can’t get the source code, I can’t get the tools to do the programming myself (which I could if I had access to the software). 

I’ll stick w/ the consumer-level home automation equipment that is actually available to mere mortals instead of someone who has ten grand to throw at these projects.

Will the iPad play a role?  Hell yeah!  It will just be integrated into a system I can actually afford.

Posted by Jim  on  03/25  at  01:23 PM

No IR on the IPad… so what are we going to have to deal with a clunky add on IR transmitter?

Posted by Brian  on  03/25  at  01:26 PM

Jim - I would think a nice wifi to IR converter would work just fine, or even a LAN-based to IR converter as long as the wifi was somewhere on the LAN would work just fine.  I’d prefer that anyway.

Posted by dk jones  on  03/25  at  02:42 PM

I mostly want to control my AV electronics and the iPad would be great for that, as I now use my iPhone/iPod Touch. I’d like to be able to automate my lighting at some point so the iPad would make it even simple, easier and be much more cost effective for a poor Mac-user like myself. $500-600.00 is certainly within the realm of possibility. Not poor ‘cause I bought Mac, work is slow right now—my Macs are the best investment I’ve made for me & the work I do.

Posted by Michael  on  03/25  at  03:17 PM

“mean seriously, an entry-level price for a true home automation system from these guys STARTS at $5,000.”

Have you looked in Crestron’s Adagio or even the Prodigy Line?
You can get a full Crestron Processor with the ability to add the Ipad or Phone app, or a web based “x-panel” for $700.00.

I see the Ipad and Prodigy based Crestron Processor as a real game changer.

Posted by Brian  on  03/25  at  03:31 PM

Michael - oh REALLY?  Damn, I wish you wouldn’t have told me that… it’s not to say I didn’t love Crestron’s stuff (when it worked - I’ve had some really bad experiences with their stuff and the support around it).

I definitely will have to take a look into that though.

Posted by Eric  on  03/25  at  07:31 PM

Are you kidding? Your really going to compare a prodigy processor with the savant package that has a built in itunes server, supports 8 rooms of audio, just add amp, an ipod touch, a developer environment that tears through the limitations of prodigy like scissors through paper. Really? I have worked with all of the control platforms on the market and the truth is you get what you pay for, there are no shortcuts.

Posted by Michael  on  03/26  at  12:25 PM

Brian -

I don’t believe I compared the Prodigy Processor to the Savant anywhere in my post.

I think the Savant system is a fantastic bargain in relative terms.

However Prodigy is also a great system for someone looking for control over their AV gear and simple reliable home automation at an extremely affordable price point.  Prodigy also has the ability to add rooms of audio and climate control, lighting, security integration, an Iphone app, as well as the ability to add an Xpanel. 

This should bring automation control capability to many people who thought it was out of their price range.  Or at least a price range they were comfortable with.

This isn’t comparing Prodigy with Savant any more than comparing Honda to Porsche.  Just stating what its capabilities are at its price point thats all.

Posted by Michael  on  03/26  at  02:10 PM

Sorry Brian…that was directed at “Eric’s” post

Posted by Brian  on  03/26  at  02:39 PM

No worries Michael - I figured as much.

My main beef is I’m a hobbyist when it comes to the home theater stuff.  I’ve got a pretty great setup considering I’ve done 95% of it myself.  I’m an IT guy and have been for years.  It drives me crazy that Crestron, Savant, etc. charge these crazy prices when it comes to installing and configuring these systems.  And to sell the main brains of the unit for a low low entry point of $5k is just insane.  The Prodigy is much closer to my price range, and I can tinker with it all I want instead of calling out a developer/programmer each time I want to make an adjustment.

I know most folks out there don’t stand a chance with regards of installing this stuff, but there are a few folks out there who do.  The price of admission is just a little more than I can bear. 

I know I’m whining about it… I keep hoping that if I #### an moan about it long enough I might start to feel better that I can’t afford it and just go with a Insteon system and suffer the outcome of that.  :D

Posted by Eric  on  03/26  at  05:37 PM

Sorry, I get sparky. We as pro automators generally mark up our products plus labor to total around 30% of the overall cost. Believe it or not, that is our break between profitable and out of business. The manufacturers price is set by their cost of developing, manufacturing and bringing to market the finished product.The more they sell, the more you will see a affordable price point, plan on seeing Savant continue to find ways to get the product to a wider audience.

Now if you stray from the beaten path, you can build a pretty cool system. Instead of a protege system, you can purchase a OSD1010, giving you the awesome on screen display, on screen widgets, safari on the big screen and much more and reuse your older equipment controlled by Savant to have a great platform for equipment price closer to around 4G. Very cool system. I love the OSD. Depending on how much programming, the price can be kept down!

Posted by DistinctAV  on  03/27  at  11:26 AM

There are no “magic, self-configuring control systems” out there that can compare to a custom system.  Kind of like saying one car type solves all transportation needs.

What you’re paying for is the experience of the systems integrator—and manufacturers only make our jobs more difficult the more they try to be the integrator.

There’s three ways to stay in business as an integrator:
1. Sell cheap stuff and pass it off as high quality (I don’t do this).
2. Be very efficient (we excel in this).
3. Advertise like crazy and hope new clients do not ask for references (we don’t advertise).

If you read EH then you see value in the entertainment and security systems in your home, spend accordingly, and reward the experts or there will be none left when you need them.

Posted by Bryan Garcia  on  03/27  at  03:45 PM

I am implementing a Crestron system for my new home, and for inwall (Removable or Fixed) devices I am remaining with the TPS 6X and TPS 6L respectively.  Where I had planned to use a TPS-6X in a table top configuration, I plan to hold off and seriously look at using an iPad with the crestron iPod / iPad application.  My reasoning is:

1) Cost
2) Wireless Ethernet / IP Based instead of proprietary (Important for integrating with HD IP Security cameras, etc).
3) Can do other things if needed
4) Integration with other IP services

Bryan

Posted by BitWiseRon  on  03/28  at  12:01 AM

Applications like energy conservation, home theater control, security camera viewing, and home theater control are more popular than ever. The only thing keeping them from being even more prevalent is cost.

Now consider the iPad, any of the abundantly available home automation apps and relatively inexpensive ($348 retail) connectivity device like the BC4X1 from BitWise Controls (http://www.bitwisecontrols.com) that offers IR ports, relays, GPIO (general purpose input/output) ports for voltage sensing, IR learner/blaster, 348,000 built in IR codes, PoE (power over Ethernet) and a software package ($190 retail) that makes setting up devices and creating macros (automation) so easy that you don’t need a programmer to do it. The control possibilities are endless and the cost to the end user is a fraction of what they would pay prior to these products being on the market.

When it comes right down to it, consumers are going to see that inexpensive and easy to use systems do most, if not all, of what the higher priced systems do. Why spend the extra money?

Ron Pitcock, Jr.
Director of Business Development
BitWise Controls

Posted by Jarrod Bell  on  03/29  at  09:01 AM

With CommandFusion iViewer, you can control just about any ethernet based control system from the one app, with a fully customisable user interface. No jumping between apps required.

iViewer works with high end systems like Crestron and the more basic ethernet adapters like Bitwise Controls and Global Cache (and any combination). All with full 2 way support via either our built in protocol or powerful feedback parsing engine.

Jarrod Bell
CommandFusion

Posted by Robin Ford  on  04/01  at  02:28 PM

Since Global Caché manufactures products to connect anything IR, serial, and relay to a WiFi and wired TCP/IP network, we’re really excited to see the iPhone/iPod/iPad take off as a user interface in the home control/home automation market. Our new iTach family is ideally suited for the Apple touchscreen market with built-in WiFi, support of 8 simultaneous users, compact design and prices ranging from $139 MSRP to $179 MSRP.  The infrared units come complete with IR blaster and emitters, and IR built-in IR learning, so all you need is the iPhone/iPad application of choice and you can be up and running in a matter of minutes. We think the popularity of the iPhone/iPod touch and now the iPad, is game changing for the custom install market. We don’t see this as a cheap, low-end solution, but rather a foot-in-the-door opportunity for custom installers to be able to build upon.

Posted by ZacM  on  04/06  at  12:23 PM

Following the comments of all the pros hawking their gear and services - how about a reply from an average consumer. . .

I, for one, would LOVE an iPad controlled house. The best Integrators thing about what people actually do (not what the technology companies think we want to do). I will spend a lot of time with an iPad in my hands doing every day stuff. I imagine sitting on the couch with it reading the daily news or watching a video, or surfing the web, or playing a game, or whatever other app I’d be using . . . and the doorbell rings. Switch to my cool control app, look at the front door camera, turn on the porch light (or ignore the salesperson).

As a home theater controller I love the idea of a big handheld screen with space for all of the regularly used buttons - again, one that would probably be in my hand to start with. I like to watch the news and web surf at the same time, see what’s up on the news and dig for more info on the web. iPad doing both. Yeah!

Downsides:
1) yes, it will get misplaced (maybe Apple needs to put in a “locate me” buzzer on the iPad)
2) App switching might bug a little, but I suspect that multitasking and fast app switching are in our immediate future.

just my 2-cents

Zac

Posted by matt  on  05/21  at  10:48 PM

By putting velcro on the iPad, it becomes useful EVERYWHERE!

http://vimeo.com/11886557

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