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Savant’s New Virtual Control Could Be a Game Changer

Photographer shoots 360-degree views of each room; users navigate and control the home using gesture control, like flicking the virtual blinds to raise or lower the motorized shades.

Savant’s new "virtual control" interface uses swipe technology just like an iPhone. The touchpanel skin is an actual photo of the home itself, like this great room. Users simply press directly on the light, shade, TV, etc. to turn on, off, dim, etc.
Jason Knott · June 11, 2009

Savant Systems—the same company that created the funky candy-dish remote control, the flying-icon on-screen display (OSD) and the industry’s first iPhone interface—now has another potential game-changing product: its new intuitive “virtual control” user interface (UI).

Making a touchpanel’s user interface intuitive is one of the keys to satisfying a homeowner with a whole-house control system.

With that in mind, Savant debuted a new intuitive “virtual control” interface that allows users to touch or swipe an actual photo of their home as the touchpad skin to turn on and off (or dim) a light, lower or raise shade, change the thermostat or even turn on and off the TV screen.

No more icons of light bulbs. No more mentions of the word “zone” on the touchpanel. If you want a light to turn on, you simply touch the actual light.

Not only does the light in the room turn on, but it also “turns on” via animation on the touchpanel. Even a stranger to the home could intuitively control functions with little to no instruction.

That new iPhone-like swipe control is just one of the new innovations unveiled by Savant during its third annual Dealer Conference in Hyannis, Mass.

Virtual Control Tech Uses Tethered Touchpanel

Specifically, the yet-to-be-named virtual control technology is a tethered tabletop 9-inch touchpanel with full capacitive touch technology delivering iPhone-like gestures and active control of lighting and shading, and other subsystems via images of residence.

The installation requires only power and a single Cat 5 for full functionality. The capacitive glass allows to gesture control.

As part of several “stimulus packages,” dealers in attendance at the Savant Dealer Conference were given a special price on a virtual control demo unit.

One potential monkeywrench to the system brought up by attendees is how to create the UI in a new construction situation. Most likely, the home and individual rooms are unfinished when the integrator is creating the interface.

One solution would be to use architectural renderings as placeholders for the touchpanel skin, then replace them with actual images later.

Professional Services Division to Handle Photos

What about the photos themselves—are integrators supposed to be professional photographers?

Savant has that handled too. It newly announced Professional Services division will coordinate the photography on behalf of the dealer.

The product was debuted to the group by CEO Bob Madonna, who admittedly could not stop “playing with it” during the demo.

In the design, one room of the home would be the background skin on the touchpanel, while all the other rooms of the home will be located in a scroll box across the bottom of the screen that can be swiped left or right, just like an iPhone.

The new virtual control UI follows up Savant’s previous debuts that made many CE pros turn their heads including the candy-dish remote, flying-icon on-screen display, the first iPhone interface, iTunes integration and AppleTV integration.

Check out video of the virtual control in action.

Attendees at the Savant Dealer Conference play with the swipe control on the new virtual interface. New capacitive glass enables the technology. Savant’s Professional Service division helps dealers get the professional photography shot for jobs.

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  About the Author

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at jason.knott@emeraldexpo.com

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