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Crestron Supports Windows SideShow in Keypads, Remotes and Touchpanels

Even moderately priced Crestron controllers can now access RSS feeds, Outlook, Windows Media Player libraries and more


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Even lightweight Crestron controllers like the ZigBee-based MLX-2 remote and Adagio APAD can be turned into SideShow-enabled devices.

Windows SideShow from Microsoft just got a big shot in the arm, with Crestron -- a leading home automation vendor -- announcing support for the technology in its touchscreens and other two-way controllers.

SideShow is a Windows Vista technology that allows "auxiliary displays" to tap into PC-based applications, even when the PC is asleep. RSS feeds for news, weather, sports and stocks, along with other apps like Outlook and Windows Media Player are just some of the SideShow "gadgets" that are currently available.

For a long time, Crestron has incorporated Web-based access to RSS feeds and other services, but only for its more robust touchscreens and Web tablets.

"We wanted to have it work with every Crestron touchpanel, even those without full graphics capabilities," says John Pavlik, senior marketing and development engineer for Crestron.

In particular, he points to Crestron's ZigBee-compatible MLX-2 handheld remote, and the APAD keypad for Crestron's moderately priced Adagio system. Even without built-in Web browsers, the devices can let users scan and select songs (for example) from a Windows Media Player gadget installed on a Vista PC.

"One of the nice things about SideShow is that there are already a bunch of applications -- stocks, RSS news feeds, etc. -- and it's easy to kind of put it in a basic format," Pavlik says.

"It doesn't take a whole lot of configuration. Just set it up in Vista by checking a couple of boxes. It's just a very simple design," Pavlik says.

The SideShow support adds no cost to the Crestron controllers, Pavlik notes. "It's just something else you can do with a Crestron touchpad."

Windows SideShow has been slow to gain traction in the home controls space (See "Windows Sideshow at CES: Bad News, Good News".). Home automation vendors Lagotek and Superna have created home automation gadgets that allow users to control their automation systems from SideShow-enabled devices, but those devices have been few and far between.

Automation vendor ControlThink has a developer's kit for Sideshow-enabled devices. PC maker Ricavision has tried for a long time to ship a Sideshow-enabled VAVE 100 remote that appears to be perpetually in beta testing.

Thus, a family of SideShow-enabled controllers from Crestron appears to be one of the more ambitious Sideshow developments, and that should make Microsoft happy.

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Crestron touchscreen with a SideShow screen. Content is delivered to the touchscreen (and other Crestron controllers) through a few clicks in the Vista setup menu.




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About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
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. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

2 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Kevin  on  04/17  at  06:31 PM

Is crestron chasing lifeware?  Seems unusual after all the microsoft bashing that crestron dealers do?

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  04/18  at  06:05 AM

Not sure what the Sideshow thing has to do with Lifeware (which doesn’t yet support Sideshow and the last time I checked they weren’t interested in it.)

Crestron has embraced Msoft Op systems for quite some time (TPMC-8 was the big break through), but they haven’t really done much with Media Center, which is Lifeware’s big thing.

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