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Autonomic Bows Two-way IP Control and Feedback for Apple TV

At last, integrate AppleTV with a control system like Crestron for media browsing; supports album art and AirTunes multiroom audio.


Autonomic Bows Two-way IP Control and Feedback for Apple TV
Julie Jacobson · May 27, 2009

You love Apple TV and you hate it.

You love it for its low cost, great user experience, large media library and the ability to distribute content housewide via AirTunes.

You hate it because (like Sonos) it’s a standalone solution—there’s not much you can do with it outside of the Mac environment.

“It has a complex, undocumented IP protocol,”  laments Michael de Nigris of Autonomic Controls, creator of a new integration option for Apple TV.

Supports Cover Art, AirTunes

But nothing is too complex for Autonomic, the company that brought rich two-way Windows Media Center communications to multiple control systems, including AMX, Crestron, HAI, Remote Technologies Inc., Universal Remote Control and NuVo.

Autonomic’s new Apple TV module initially is available for Crestron automation systems, but support for AMX, RTI and others will follow shortly. The software enables direct, two-way IP-based control, media browsing, album art feedback and support for AirTunes.

It’s a first, according to de Nigris. “There have been some grass roots efforts at IP control done by independent programmers,” he says, “but this is the first to offer album art—that particularly was a serious technical challenge—and AirTunes support.”

Furthermore, Automomic’s solution for Crestron is “the first from a certified integration partner offering real commercial quality support,” de Nigris says.

And you can do all of those other things that Autonomic enables, like accessing and controlling Pandora from keypads and touchpanels.

Connect and Control Multiple Servers, AirTunes

With the Crestron plug-in, users can connect to multiple Apple TV media servers and AirTunes devices via Ethernet or WiFi, enabling multizone control and media browsing from any Crestron touchpanel in the home.

Cracking the Apple TV code can have big implications for a whole-house music and control system.

“We believe that betting on Apple to lead the industry with on-demand video is a conservative bet considering their track record and wide audience,” says de Nigris. “The HD downloads are very fast—viewable in a couple of minutes on a modest broadband connection. And the quality, while not up to Blu-ray specs (yet), is completely watchable on my 110-inch projection setup.”

As for multizone audio, de Nigris declares, “AirTunes is just awesome. The synchronization is outstanding. We cannot perceive any lag over WiFi running two or three sets of speakers in a single room. The only latency is when you first activate a zone.”

Beats an iPod Dock

No computer is required for Autonomic’s integration solution. But if you have computers on the network, the Apple TV devices can be configured to automatically synchronize or stream content from multiple iTunes libraries. The control module also can natively control iTunes on a Mac or PC without the need for any additional software.

De Nigris says that Autonomic’s “breakthrough technology provides a more sophisticated and full-featured solution than the iPod dock.”

iPods have severe storage limitations, and you have to synchronize them manually via USB with your iTunes library (although Crestron and others have a fix for this).

Furthermore, to enjoy your iTunes library, you must keep your iPod connected. It is doubtful, on the other hand, that you would take your Apple TV for a jog.

Competes with Media Center, Sonos

Two-way control of Apple TV has seriously inhibited the adoption of the product among home technology integrators. Furthermore, integrators haven’t been able to make a dime on it.

Now they can, by integrating it with control.

You can’t say that about Sonos, whose exceptional whole-house wireless music system remains closed to the integration community.

As for Windows Media Center, that platform is too complex for many integrators who prefer a low-cost single-purpose entertainment box to a full-fledged Microsoft computer.

“The addition of integrated, two-way control of Apple TV makes it an exciting alternative to iPod Docks, traditional media servers, and other video-on-demand devices,” says de Nigris. “The on-screen interface, availability of HD movies and TV shows, DRM compatibility and its ability to leverage unlimited network storage is revolutionary.”

In summary, he adds, “Leveraging built-in AirTunes support, integrators can use AirPort Express zones and other Apple TVs to create a wireless, multi-room, IP-based audio network with synchronized audio, all under the control of a Crestron automation system.”



  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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