Control & Automation

Control4 Builds Better Video Intercom, Sexier Touchscreens, Next-gen Remote

Adding to home automation line at ISE 2015, Control4 demos OS 2.7, ‘blazingly’ fast intercom that supports second IP camera, new touchscreen designed from scratch, third-gen remote


Control4 Builds Better Video Intercom, Sexier Touchscreens, Next-gen Remote
Control4 tabletop touchscreen debuts at ISE 2015

Photos & Slideshow

Julie Jacobson · February 11, 2015

Control4 (Nasdaq: CTRL) is announcing several new additions to its home automation portfolio at ISE 2015 in Amsterdam this week, starting with the (forthcoming) OS 2.7.

The new software release supports several new pieces of hardware debuting at the show.

Video Intercom

First up is a new video intercom system that is “blazingly fast,” says Paul Williams, VP of lighting and comfort products, who notes that Control4 is now the #1 intercom brand among the CE Pro 100 dealers.

“We’ve improved speed and performance dramatically,” he says. “Press the button and you get instant on.”

In addition, the new version of the original intercom supports multiple cameras, including the one built into the door station, as well as the dealer’s choice of an external IP camera.

Williams notes that intercom door stations, along with their internal cameras, generally are positioned to the side of the door, away from where the visitor usually stands.

Now an external camera can be positioned at the best location for capturing a guest.

In the past, says Williams, dealers would mount additional cameras to record video of a visitor, but the video was not incorporated into the intercom system. Now dealers can select Control4’s own door-station camera or a separate camera integrated into the Control4 platform for use in two-way video conversations.

Also new to the intercom system: Support for third-party SIP communications devices (door stations, phones and mobile apps) starting with industry leaders Siedle and 2N (both at ISE).

Currently the system requires that SIP be on the same local network for integration.

Intercom Features

  • Dramatically faster connection speed, to let you quickly see who’s at the front door
  • Crisp, full-screen visual clarity so that you can monitor your sleeping baby or check on your children playing in another room at a glance,
  • Enhanced control and privacy functionality, including settings for do not disturb, audio only, and auto-answer
  • The ability to select an alternate camera as the video source for exterior video door stations, providing preferred view and the best audio source whether inside or outside the home
  • When connected on the same home or business network, interoperability with third-party SIP products, including door stations (from industry leaders like Siedle and 2N), home phones, and mobile apps for iOS & Android
  • Out-of-the-box intercom functionality – simply add at least two video-enabled end-points (one or more video touch screens or video door stations)

A Sexier Touchscreen

A perfect complement to the new intercom system, Control4 is introducing at ISE new touchscreens designed from scratch by a third-party industrial design firm.

The new products, available in both tabletop and in-wall models, are built on Android. Earlier versions used Flash with Control4’s own OS, somewhat limiting such useful features as gesture (swipe) controls, which are incorporated into the new designs.

Williams says Control4 adopted Android “because we wanted to have extensibility and speed. We can move quicker with Android.”

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And I can attest from a pre-show demo … they are indeed “blazingly fast.”

And they look great, too.

“We took a 360-degree design view,” Williams says, noting that there are usually two parts to interface product: “the sexy side of the product and then the not-so-sexy business side of the product.”

In this case, the new tabletop screen hides all the business nonsense in a base – don’t call it a dock – that doesn’t look bad sitting on a desk all alone with no touchscreen attached. It’s like a clean little metal sculpture that could pass as a paper weight … if paper weights had tiny little probes at the top.

The rear of the touchscreen is sculpted to fit comfortably in the hands.

Control4 also is introducing two new in-wall touchscreens availabe in 7- and 10-inch sizes.

“It’s designed like a piece of glass on the wall,” Williams says.

He says the desire for dedicated touchscreens aren’t going away anytime soon. And although Control4 has more than 100,000 iOS and Android downloads for iDevices, “there continues to be need for dedcated control in home.”

Touchscreen Features

  • 1.4GHz quad-core processor to drive new graphics and HD video capabilities, as well as the capacitive-touch user interaction
  • 7” and 10” sizes available for in-wall installations
  • 7” tabletop available for coffee-table, bed-stand, and portable use
  • Extremely fast and responsive processing power
  • Crisp, beautiful picture quality, with twice the resolution of previous models
  • HD camera, high-quality speakers and microphone for video intercom use with touch screens, a door station, or front gate
  • A brand new interface for managing smart locks throughout the home (exclusive to the new line of touch screens)
  • One-touch access to local and regional weather forecasts

Next-Gen Handheld Remote

Finally, in the user-interface department, Control4 is unveiling at ISE its newest SR-260 handheld remote, the third generation of the product that Williams calls “the most-used device of Control4 customers … the face of Control4.”

Gen three features a larger screen and offers a variety of font colors.

There are also two “language” versions for the hard buttons: English and iconographic for non-English speakers.

In the same vein, Control4 is making its remotes more “world friendly” by supporting multi-byte characters as in Hebrew and Chinese.

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View Images of New Control4 User Interfaces

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Also new to the Control4 remote is a bank of three programmable buttons that “can do whatever the user wants,” whether that means jumping to a favorite TV station or triggering a whole-house Goodnight scene. (Dealers used to hijack other keys to perform these tasks.)

Finally, the new remote offers an improved button layout – especially for such buttons as Pause, Stop and Rewind – as well as better haptic feedback.

Features

  • Intuitive button layout and powerful programmability to give you the perfect remote to control your entire smart home, from entertainment to smart lighting
  • Custom buttons that Dealers can program to control devices in the home theater, the family room, or elsewhere in the home
  • A larger display that offers a variety of font colors and improved readability
  • A more intuitive List Navigator design, making it easy to control everything in your home
  • Two models, one with English buttons (SR-260) and one with international icons (SR-260i), making this the perfect remote control for a global community
  • Redesigned button layout that makes your media experience more intuitive and easy to use in the dark or with one-hand
  • Brighter keypad backlighting that automatically adjusts based on ambient light levels
  • On-screen support for multiple languages, including multi-byte characters
  • Faster and more responsive command processing
  • Interoperability with Control4’s existing recharging stations.

Stay tuned for more Control4 news at ISE

Control4 @ ISE 2015: Stand 10-N114
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JULIE JACOBSON
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  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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