Because Crestron offers so many different types of products, the Luckers were able to start by putting in just a few small touchpanels in the key areas of their house with the understanding that they could always incorporate additional touchpanels—as they did in the garage—or exchange the original 4-inch units for larger displays. They would also be able to add new drivers to the system so that the lights and thermostats could be controlled from the touchpanels. And, because the Crestron system is driven by customizable software, it could be reprogrammed by AVE whenever the family was ready for a change.
For now, the Luckers feel that they have most of their bases covered. They can send songs from their iPod, media server and cable box to any of eight independent listening zones. Different songs can be directed to different areas, or one song can play throughout the entire house. To make it easy to find the perfect tune, the family’s collection of music is categorized by genre, artist and album title. Those lists can be displayed on any of the home’s six in-wall touchpanels.
“I just go to the panel, touch it to wake it up, choose the source, then select what I want to hear,” Mrs. Lucker explains. Because music is such an integral part of their lifestyle, they’ve gone so far as to create their own custom playlists. “It’s a simple matter of going to the computer and picking out songs you want and choosing and assigning the group a title,” explains Mrs. Lucker. “We have a playlist for party music, kid’s music and dinner music.” Every time a new playlist is created, it appears on the touchpanel along with all the other music choices.
While it’s been fun for the Luckers to fiddle around with their music, their favorite and most used part of the system is their iPod docking station in the kitchen. The instant an iPod is clicked into the dock, its songs are added to the housewide music network. The titles are displayed on the touchpanels just as they would appear on the screen of the iPod and those songs can be played through any and all speakers.
And it’s not just the Luckers’ iPod that gets in on the action. “A friend can bring over an iPod and introduce a whole new variety of music to listen to,” says Johnson. Whether those iPod tunes are playing in the kids’ playroom in the basement, the master bedroom or the yard, the Luckers are never more than a few steps away from a touchpanel—where they can summon a different song whenever they want.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.