Sling Founder Brings Android to Home Control
Crestron automation app on Android-enabled Samsung Galaxy Tab during CEDIA Expo.
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A few early-release Samsung Galaxy Tabs will be hand-delivered to CEDIA so Blake Krikorian can demo his Android app for home automation.
September 22, 2010 by Julie Jacobson
With Android, on the other hand, you can mute the television via the home-automation app, without closing your e-book for example. And, if you want to see a guest at the front door the moment he presses the doorbell, you can make that happen with Android, even if you’re currently engrossed in said e-book.

These features are easily achieved via any respectable home-automation touchscreen. But the trick is to make them doable with an off-the-shelf multipurpose device such as an iPad or Android tablet.

What lured Krikorian into the Android camp – besides his long-time friendship with Android founder Andy Rubin—is that the open-source platform has no “gatekeeper for any new functionality,” he says. A developer can dig down deep and make changes to the source code to suit his apps.

Krikorian enjoys the flexibility to customize his Android desktop with “widgets,” just as he can do on his PC screen. An Android widget displays an application’s most important functions or timely information at a glance, on a user’s desktop.

In the case of home control, instead of just putting the shortcut to the Crestron app on the desktop, he suggests, the homeowner might want to populate part of the desktop with some of the most-used commands or important status updates, for example, MUTE, CHANNEL UP/DOWN, PLAY MOVIE, INTERCOM, LIGHTS, GOODNIGHT or SECURITY STATUS.

CEDIA: Control a Home with Samsung Galaxy Tab
Krikorian has arranged to have a few pre-release Samsung Galaxy Tabs hand-delivered to him in Atlanta, just in time for the CEDIA Expo.

The hugely hyped 7-inch tablet is one of many large-screen Android devices expected to flood the market in 2011.

Krikorian already has the 5-inch Dell Streak to showcase the new app, which will also be demonstrated in the Crestron booth at CEDIA.

“Whether or not you’re interested in Crestron,” he says, “these are cool things you might want to see.”

Crestron CTO Fred Bargetzi believes Krikorian is the first developer to deliver an Android app for Crestron. He likes what he sees so far.

It works pretty much like Crestron’s own iOS app, he says. Basically, a dealer programs Crestron par usual, and simply “flips a switch” to create a companion app for Apple or Android, Bargetzi explains.

Krikorian says his Android app “works with the existing [Crestron] development tools that dealers know and love today – VTPro, System Builder, SIMPL …. Really, they don’t need to learn anything else new or different” to coax an Android app out of Crestron.

The Crestron Android app “will probably be priced like Mobile Pro,” Krikorian says of Crestron’s Apple app. That one sells for $99 (per device), and there’s also a free version with limited functionality.

Beyond that, Krikorian really doesn’t really know where he’s going with this thing.

His development company the id8 Group – from which Sling Media sprang – “goes through hundreds of ideas and dozens of prototypes,” he says. “Maybe one makes it. While I initially built this app for myself, I found that it is just too cool not to share with others.”

So will there be more development around the smart home?

“I can’t help myself,” he says. “I just can’t stop. I have been coming to the CEDIA show on and off for the past dozen years as a spectator. With this Android app for Crestron, it’s a blast to actually be contributing something instead of just drooling over cool products from other folks.”

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Julie Jacobson - Editor-at-large, CE Pro
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.

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