I finally got an iPod Touch to see what all of the fuss was about. Controlling your home from a mobile touchscreen? I’ve heard the buzz and done the research but I wanted to see for myself.
The problem? I don’t have any iPod-controllable gear in my home.
HomeLogic to the rescue. One of my favorite little home-control vendors has a demo that allows anyone to tap into a live HomeLogic system—installed in the manufacturer’s Marblehead, Mass., headquarters—to view surveillance cameras, mess with the thermostat settings, change the music playlist, and check the status of the security system (sorry, you can’t arm and disarm it!).
Currently the free demo app is available only to integrators, but ultimately any consumer can check it out.
“You download the app from the store and you can connect right to the demo,” says Joe Lautner, VP of sales and marketing. “It’s a great marketing tool.”
The marketing angle notwithstanding, the fact that HomeLogic offers a native app instead of a Web application makes a world of difference in response time. It is fast.
“You’re not constantly refreshing a Web page,” says Lautner. “The app is running right on the phone.”
Control (Almost) Everything at the HomeLogic Headquarters
I’ve seen a lot of iPhone apps for home control and HomeLogic’s is definitely among the best, taking advantage of many iPhone tools like landscape mode and pinch-to-zoom.
The iPhone app provides nearly full access to a HomeLogic system – from irrigation control to security cameras to multiroom A/V.
I’ve never used a HomeLogic system, except to play with it at various trade shows, but I needed no lesson launching the iPhone app, panning and zooming the surveillance cameras, monitoring energy usage, and changing the TV stations.
That last feature is a doozey. From the iPhone screen, users can view what’s playing on any TV in the house. From a remote office, for example, you can check the kids’ TV and change the channel from MTV to Nickelodeon.
While a DVD is playing – you can even watch it through the iPhone – users can scan the TV stations to see what they’re missing.
More importantly, suggests Lautner, “What if my wife came home with ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’, and the Red Sox are playing the Yankees?”
In the Lautner household, Joe could keep his eye on the game while pretending to watch the movie.
HomeLogic, which set the standard in IP-based home control many years ago, offers a variety of automation modules and interfaces. Lautner lauds the iPhone as an inexpensive system add-on, but he foresees “very little erosion” of sales for the company’s keypads and touchscreens.
He concedes, though, that there may be “a little” cannibalization on sales of wireless controllers.
And though Lautner thinks the HomeLogic iPhone application is great for in-home control, he thinks “75 percent of the value will be in remote home access.”
The live HomeLogic iPhone demo is a killer sales tool – whether you’re peddling HomeLogic or some other system. People who adore their iPhones will be hooked on remote home control … and those (like me) who don’t listen to music will find a reason to use their mobile devices.
After the iPhone, HomeLogic plans to create an application for Blackberry.
The HomeLogic iPhone app will be available free of charge for general consumption this month. Search for HomeLogic Mobile Control or find it under Home Control.
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Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.