Control4 OS 2.9 is all About Integration: Amazon Alexa, Sonos, Z-Wave, Motorized Shades
Home automation leader Control4 (CTRL) is releasing OS 2.9 at CEDIA 2016, featuring voice control through Amazon Alexa, support for Z-Wave, deep integration with motorized shades. Plus, more personalization for the customer.
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Sanctioned integration with Sonos is part of the experience, as is voice control through Amazon Alexa. In addition, Control4 now supports Z-Wave, treating select third-party products as if they are native to the Control4 ecosystem. In addition, OS 2.9 enables rich integration with motorized shades and more personalization for the end user.
Voice Control through Alexa Smart Home Skills
Control4 is now voice-controllable through Amazon Echo via Alexa Skills created for the smart-home system (press release, next page).
Any Control4-connected device that is already natively supported by Amazon – lights, thermostats, fans and door locks – can be controlled directly through Echo. The devices are discovered automatically and the user needs only to utter a few words like, “Set dining room lights to 60 percent,” or “Turn the thermostat up two degrees.”
For more advanced controls, users can activate scenes by saying commands such as, “Turn off house” or “Turn on party.”
Amazon just announced the arrival of Echo in Europe. Control4 says its smart home skill for Alexa will also be available there. It awaits certification and testing by Amazon which will be completely shortly.
In the past, Control4 could integrate with Z-Wave, but it wasn’t easy to get there, and two-way feedback was complicated.
This week, Control4 is announcing true integration, such that Z-Wave devices are treated as native to the Control4 ecosystem (press release, next page). In the company’s Composer configuration engine, Z-Wave products show up alongside ZigBee and other Control4-compatible devices. Feedback from Z-Wave is just as rich as it is for Control4’s own ZigBee devices.
Control4 has joined the Z-Wave Alliance but the company is “keeping very tight control” of its Z-Wave integrations, says Paul Williams, Control4 VP Solutions.
Out of the gate, only 13 devices from Aeotec, GE and Leviton are supported – products such as appliance modules, water leak detectors and door/window sensors.
Z-Wave support is enabled through a module that connects to Control4’s EA series controllers.
SDK for Motorized Shades = Deep Integration
Control4 has always integrated nicely with motorized shading systems, but OS 2.9 represents its richest interoperability yet, thanks to a new SDK that has been embraced by the major window-covering manufacturers.
It used to be that dealers programmed the motorized shades first through the manufacturer’s own tools, and then ported those settings into Control4. With the SDK-based integrations, however, dealers can program each individual shade as it were native to the Control4 ecosystem.
Control4’s launch partners are Lutron (integration through Lutron IP hub), QMotion (via ZigBee) and Somfy (via Z-Wave).
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Gradually, Control4 is giving up control over the user experience, giving dealers and end-users a little more power to customize their own solutions.
With OS 2.9, Control4 users can set up their own “Wake up” and “Sleep” modes, incorporating virtually any application in the ecosystem from lights to shades to music.
In addition, Control4 is rolling out “Experience Buttons” featuring dynamic graphical icons depicting the state of any given device. For example, if the fireplace is on, the user might see a depiction of flames a-flaming. When the lights in the master bedroom turn to green, then a green bulb might appear on-screen. These states are displayed on a “favorites” screen for at-a-glance status reports and one-touch control with feedback.
Speaking of personalization, customers now can renew their annual subscriptions to Control4’s 4Site remote-access service directly with Control4. The manufacturer will handle the renewal services and billing, while the dealer gets the same revenue share.
“It takes the hassle out of renewals for dealers,” says Susan Cashen. Control4 Senior VP marketing.
See Contol4 Press Releases on OS 2.9 and Amazon Alexa, Next Page
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@example.com
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