At last year’s Custom Electronics Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) Expo, lighting and home control manufacturer Vantage Controls showcased its uniquely designed keypad, the Equinox. Resembling a small, iPod-like touchscreen, the LCD keypad is completely customizable and allows users to swipe through pages of controls rather than hunting and pecking through buttons. I have to admit, I was only mildly impressed last year. It looked super sleek, but I didn’t really appreciate usability … until my visit to the 43rd floor of one of downtown Denver’s poshest hotels.
Here, a 5,000-square-foot residence had been recently renovated into a showcase of luxurious living, where a Vantage inFusion control system set the mood from the second I stepped through the threshold. You’re greeted by a long hallway of beautifully illuminated artwork … and the first of many wall-mounted Equinox keypads. With just a few options—home, entertain, relax, and path—presented on the screen, it was a cinch to set the lights (mostly halogen) for my arrival. I chose Path, which activated lights along a ceiling cove.
Each keypad (there are 73 total) was designed by the integration firm Home Electronics Professionals, Englewood, Colo., to present a completely different sets of commands, which mainly impacted the lights, music, video and other elements of its respective area. For example, in the master bedroom, a user can choose from several lighting scenes like welcome, snack and hall, then swipe to a new page for a few additional options like read, art, and all off. Also integrated into this and other Equinox touchpads were controls for a NuVo whole-house audio system, which is newsworthy in and of itself, as Vantage had just announced at the Expo a driver that would enable seamless integration of NuVo components into a Vantage inFusion control system. Now, from any Vantage keypad users can call up an audio widget to access their streaming music sources. For an added touch, the master bedroom Equinox could also command motorized shades, a TV lift (which raises a flat-panel out of a cabinet at the foot of the bed) and a decorative fountain.
As a bonus, the owners of the residence can use apps on their iPads and Galaxy tablet to get to all of the controls contained on the Equinox keypads.
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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.