iPhone’s Voice-activated Siri Controls Home Theater

"Siri, start home theater."


Like using the Siri voice-activated assistant on the iPhone 4S? Then you’ll love the idea of using it to control your home theater—or your home. As in, “Siri, start home theater,” and “Siri, dim lights 50 percent,” and “Siri, switch to ESPN.”

A Little Rock, Ark., custom electronics pro, Matthew Carnes of Carnes Audio Visual, has programmed Crestron systems to accept Siri commands and control a home theater and media. “Anything you can control with Crestron touchpanel can be controlled with Siri,” he says.

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Yes, just like on Star Trek.

The showroom system uses a Crestron AMS-AIP Adagio processor, while another Siri system Carnes installed in a home uses the Pro 2 processor for whole-house control.

The iPhone doesn’t have to be docked. It stays on the home’s Wi-Fi network, and the Crestron processor is also hardwired to the network, as well as an intermediary computer that takes the data from Siri and passes it onto the Crestron system.

And it’s not just basic commands. In one video, Carnes shows how Siri can control media, without mentioning sources. He tells it to turn on ESPN, and the system knows to switch from Apple TV to the cable box, for instance. Another video to come will show how Siri can be used to schedule Crestron home control events.

“We’ve been developing this over the last couple of weeks. The reach and functionality is changing all the time,” he says. “Now the whole system is communicating.”

From Tinkering to Reality

Carnes is a devoted Siri user, using the virtual assistant to set up appointments, get messages while driving in the car, and he started to think what would happen if he got home control and Siri together.

Then on a Saturday in early January, with his wife was at work and the kids playing with friends, Carnes found he had time to himself. He started programming early in the morning, and by the end of the day he had to good start to getting Siri and Crestron together. “Once I was able to get a good working communication between them, I thought, OK, what do we want it to do?”

Monday morning at work he got back to programming, this time with a Crestron processor next to him, and by Tuesday he had the system up and running and shooting the first YouTube video. He sent the link to his Crestron rep, it started to trickle through the folks at the home control company, some media outlets found it, and it exploded, he says. “It grew really quick. We started seeing popularity of it, and I realized that this is something that people want,” he says. “It grew from tinkering to reality to beyond.”

Carnes’ technology is already patent-pending, and he’s starting an LLC called Voice to Action to possibly license the technology and help other CE pros do Siri home control installations.

“It’s to the point to where you don’t need to have a new Crestron system to make it work. We can come in and add the Siri capability,” he says.

Carnes says he hasn’t priced out his service yet, as he wants to continue testing and perfecting it before releasing it. He’s already beta-testing it with a client’s irrigation system.

But he reports no major Siri glitches. The only minor thing, he says, is sometimes Siri may interpret “Lights on” as “ights on” and want to do a web search. But he hasn’t found the showroom at 100 degrees or anything like that.

Carnes is also eyeing boardroom applications for Siri control.

“We’re trying to make it so [control] is easier for people; it’s not [to be] lazy,” he says.


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