Crestron Goes Mainstream with User-Configurable $599 Pyng Home Automation Platform
Crestron, the king of expensive home automation, launches Pyng at CEDIA 2014. Cloud-enabled platform kills pricey programming, lets users configure themselves.
Julie Jacobson · September 10, 2014
Crestron is one of the most vaunted names in home automation … for people with money. It’s not that the hardware is so expensive (although it has been). It’s that a Crestron system is crazy complicated to configure, requiring highly skilled (expensive) programmers to create a system … and to keep coming back for every little tweak.
At CEDIA Expo 2014 this week in Denver, Crestron is introducing Pyng, a completely reinvented software platform for bringing lighting control, energy management, motorized shades, security and whole-house integration to mere mortals.
The key to Pyng’s affordability isn’t some super-cool $99 home automation hub. It’s in the software, including a new app and SHaaS (smart home as a service) cloud engine.
The new platform allows installers to configure a Crestron system in no time, with nothing more than a tablet, some sneakers and nimble fingers.
Today’s dealers need a computer to do every little thing for a Crestron home automation system—create a GUI using VT Pro, write and compile the programming code using SIMPL and Crestron Database, acquire devices through Toolbox ….
The process is time-consuming, to say the least.
With Pyng, dealers can create an entire system – from device enrollment to scene configurations – within one programming environment, no PC required.
“The Pyng app lets you set up and control everything in the home right from an iPad, so you don’t need to use a laptop at all,” says Tom Barnett, director, product marketing at Crestron.
There are only five simple steps to Pyng:
1. “Build Your Room” by naming each room.
2. “Pair Devices” by walking around and touching the wireless devices, associating them with each room.
3. “Group Shades” so they’ll act in unison.
4. “Create Scenes” using the enrolled devices
5. “Customize and Schedule”
“The value is in the ability to do everything at the same time,” says Crestron product manager Evan Ackmann. “You walk around with the iPad, tap things, and tell Pyng what you want it to do … all in one step.”
Dealers can even order button engraving through the app, at Step 5.
Pyng Ecosystem is Limited, But Made for Majority
It would be tough to incorporate every Crestron-compatible device and application in the first iteration of Pyng.
At launch, the platform only works with Crestron’s wireless lighting, motorized shades, thermostats and other Infinet EX devices such as sensors and I/O modules. It also works with Yale locks and Honeywell Vista security panels.
“What we’ve made is a product that we think covers 90 to 95 percent of the use cases,” Ackmann says. “What are the things that are most important for home automation? What is that fundamental level you need? Anything related to energy, climate, atmosphere, security, the things around your home that in my opinion make the biggest impression are included in Pyng.”
And, as far as Ackmann is concerned, “The 95-percent case should be dead simple, optimized for as few taps as possible.”
So, yes, that means you won’t get A/V control with Pyng.
BUT, here’s the cool thing, if you want to add DigitalMedia or any other non-Pyng products to the mix, you can simply drag your Pyng program into a SIMPL project and add more products and services to the mix.
“You can add any Crestron product to a Crestron Pyng system,” Barnett explains. “Because Pyng runs not only on iOS, but also on touch screens that support Smart Graphics, you can take a Crestron Pyng system and easily expand it.”
The programmer simply adds the Pyng SmartObject to the touchscreen, which gives the same control experience as the Pyng app on the touchscreen.
“Then, the rest of the system (such as A/V) is programmed as normal,” says Barnett.
Pyng Hub, Standard Crestron Hardware, Not Another Prodigy
Enabling Pyng is a $599 hub with Crestron’s Infinet EX radio and protocol for communicating with the company’s own wireless devices as well as Yale’s modified ZigBee door locks. It also features Wi-Fi and Ethernet for communicating over the network and to the cloud.
IP connectivity also enables integration with third-party systems, either locally or cloud-to-cloud, but that functionality is not yet implemented.
For now, the Hub integrates with Honeywell via an Ethernet-to-RS-232 box called Pyng Connect Com.
In a nutshell, according to Barnett, the hub “stores the configuration, connects to the myCrestron cloud, keeps different Apple devices in sync, runs scheduled events when the iPad isn’t there, makes the keypad presses work, and bridges between the iPad (which talks Ethernet via Wi-Fi) and the Crestron Infinet EX products.”
Besides the hub, you don’t need any special parts and pieces for Pyng. It works with existing Crestron hardware so dealers can keep on using the same ol’ Crestron devices, without so much as a firmware update.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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