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Control4 Adds If/Then Engine to Home Automation, Lets End Users Tweak System

CEDIA 2017 Showstopper: As part of Control4 OS 2.10, new When/Then engine lets users configure their own if/then home-automation commands — a ‘transformational’ paradigm for pro-installed smart-home systems.

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Control4 (Nasdaq: CTRL) blends the best of professional and DIY home automation with a new feature called When/Then, which allows consumers to personalize their own smart-home systems after a professional installer sets it up. Think IFTTT (if this, then that) but for 10,000-plus devices that Control4 supports.

When/Then is launching this week at CEDIA 2017 as part of Control4’s new OS 2.10 and the 4Sight cloud service. For Control4 and the home-technology channel in general, this changes everything.

“We’ve been hearing for a long time that home owners want to make adjustments after they’ve lived with their systems,” says Brad Hintze, senior director of product marketing for Control4. “We think we’ve struck a good balance between the quality and reliability of a professionally installed system with the hands-on capabilities that consumers have wanted.”

Over the past few years, virtually all the major home-control vendors have incorporated DIY-type features in their professionally installed systems. Once the installer walks away, users can make adjustments like creating lighting scenes, setting up automation schedules, or programming text alerts for certain events.

But no pro-oriented system goes as far as Control4 with its When/Then engine. The user can take virtually any configurable button in the Control4 environment – whether it’s on a remote control, keypad or doorbell – and tell the system what to do when someone presses it, taps twice, presses and holds ….

The whens don’t have to be physical actions such as pressing a button. A when can be a time of day, sensor activity, temperature setting, basically anything that could occur in the Control4 environment.

Users can program thens to be as simple as sending a text message when the door is unlocked, or as complicated as launching a morning scene that ramps up the lights, opens the shades and turns the television on to CNN.  

Developing the When/Then engine was no small feat for Control4, which had to ensure it was simple enough that “customers wouldn’t be bombarding their dealers,” says Hintze, but also safe enough that users couldn’t wreck the programming.

Nothing the dealer programs in Composer Pro can be touched, but it can be supplemented. For example, if you want a preprogrammed button to control an additional light, simply create a command that when the button is pressed, then control that light.

All of the When/Then commands are pushed into Composer automatically, so dealers can view, delete and modify the programming as necessary.

Oh the Engagement and Analytics!

When/Then helps dealers avoid all the little customer calls for adding a light to this scene, or changing the TV station on that scene, or sending a push notification when the kids come home.

But the feature does a few other things. First, it keeps customers engaged with the system. As every integrator knows, if the system doesn’t keep up with the needs of the family, eventually the family stops using it, stops adding to it, and stops telling friends about it.

Click for sample When/Then screen shots

Once they start playing around with it, however, Hintze says customers will likely want to add more devices to the system and “tell others about it.”

“We think it will be transformational for our channel,” he says.

There’s another thing: Since dealers see the end-user programming, they can get a better understanding of how their customers are using – or not using – their systems.

This knowledge can help dealers better understand their clients’ needs and how they might benefit from additional products and services. 

Additional OS 2.10 Features

In addition to the When/Then engine, Control4's new OS 2.10 and 4Sight service includes a new Intercom App that lets users receive calls directly from their Control4 door stations and other video intercoms on their mobile devices.

While on a call in the Intercom App, with a single tap, homeowners can initiate Control4 commands such as turning on lights or unlocking the door, without leaving the app. The company says this feature is unique to Control4.

Also new: Control4 has added iHeartRadio and Spotify to its roster of native streaming services, which already includes Deezer, Napster, Pandora, TIDAL, and TuneIn. 

Read OS 2.10 press release, next page.

{pagebreak}PRESS RELEASE

Control4 Releases Expanded 4Sight Services and New OS 2.10

4Sight enables homeowner personalization and intercom anywhere capabilities; OS 2.10 brings additional native streaming music services.

San Diego, CA – CEDIA Expo 2017 – Control4 Corporation (NASDAQ: CTRL), a leading global provider of smart home solutions, announces a series of new capabilities with today’s release of Control4® 4Sight service at CEDIA 2017 in San Diego, CA. Leading the industry, Control4 unveiled a new homeowner customization functionality called When >> Then Automation and a new audio/video Intercom App that enables homeowners to receive door station intercom calls on their mobile devices, at home or away. Part of the Control4 OS 2.10 software release, new native streaming music services from iHeartRadio®, and Spotify® are also available today on Control4 systems.

Smart Home Personalization and Fine-Tuning after the Pro Install

After a dealer completes a Control4 installation and homeowners have the chance to experience living in their smart homes, the family often wants to tweak and fine-tune the automation without having to engage their dealer to make simple adjustments. The ability for homeowners to “edit” and “add” to the automation within their home has been a top request by both Control4 customers and dealers. When >> Then, now included with the Control4 4Sight service, is an intuitive, easy-to-use web interface, enabling customers to make adjustments to the automation settings in their homes directly, personalizing their Control4 system at any time after the installation.

“Combined with the skills and stability of a professional installation by trained and certified Control4 Dealers, we’re enabling a perfect blend of professional expertise with a homeowner’s ability to establish and change their automation preferences,” said Plaehn. “As homeowners live with and adjust their personalized Control4 home to match the way they live, we believe they will expand their smart home with additional devices and integrated systems, which is great repeat business for our network of expert Control4 Dealers.”

For the first time, Control4 provides homeowners with the direct ability to create smart home actions when a button is pressed, when motion is detected, when a condition occurs, when it’s a specific time, or when a door is opened or closed. For example, with When >> Then, homeowners can change the schedule for the porch light, change which music plays when a living room keypad button is pressed, or send a push notification when the garage door is opened.

Control4’s When >> Then personalization takes a simple approach; the user selects a When (on a schedule, with a touch of a button, or after an event) and selects a Then action to take place (turn on a light, start a playlist, or send a push notification). Homeowners who subscribe to the 4Sight service and have OS 2.10 installed will have immediate access to the When >> Then on customer.control4.com

Intercom Anywhere for Peace of Mind

Also available today with the 4Sight service is the new Control4 Intercom App for iOS and Android devices. Homeowners can now receive Control4 Door Station and audio/video intercom calls directly on their mobile devices, providing them visibility and access to their front gate or front door from anywhere in the world. Unique to Control4, while on a call in the Intercom App, with a single tap, homeowners can activate their Control4 automation such as turn on lights, open the gate, or unlock the front door without leaving the app; a perfect blend of peace of mind and home control.

Control4 offers a complete intercom system with a high-end door station, dedicated touch screens, and doorbell cameras built for durability and premium audio/video quality. Whether in the home or away, homeowners can now receive incoming audio/video intercom calls on their mobile device or call from their mobile phone to Control4 Touchscreens installed throughout out the home for the most complete connected home intercom solution.

The Control4 Intercom App is now available for early access to Control4 Dealers through the company’s beta program.

4Sight, the Must-Have Subscription Service for the Control4 Smart Home

Focusing on providing homeowners fantastic smart home experiences, the newly enhanced 4Sight service via the Control4 OS 2.10 release includes: 

  • When >> Then Automation
    • After a dealer completes the initial install, homeowners can use When >> Then Automation to fine-tune their smart home.
  • Intercom App for iOS and Android
    • Get audio/video calls from your door station to a mobile phone and to touchscreens in the house, ensuring that no matter where you are, you’re always connected and can see who’s at the door.
  • Voice Control with Amazon Alexa
    • Easily set up the Control4 Smart Home Skill for Amazon Alexa and start using voice commands to control a home. Available in the U.S., UK and Germany.
  • Remote Home Access
    • From anywhere in the world, homeowners are able to check on the house, turn off lights, close garage doors, and view security cameras.
  • Push Notifications
    • Receive push notifications to a mobile device when events, such as the garage door opens, or a door is unlocked at home.
  • Apple Watch
    • Easily adjust the temperature, pause the music, or adjust the volume right from your wrist.

OS 2.10 Adds New Native Streaming Music Services

Today, iHeartRadio, and Spotify join the Control4 native streaming service roster that includes Deezer®, Napster®, Pandora®, TIDAL®, and TuneIn®. Control4’s native implementation enables customers to select a favorite playlist, album, or station within the Control4 App and stream it throughout their home using their EA Series controller without any additional media players. As always, homeowners can begin streaming music from all available services for which they have accounts through their Control4 Touchscreen, handheld system remote, voice control, programmable keypad, and Control4 mobile app.

The Control4 OS 2.10 is available today for new and existing Control4 systems. The 4Sight annual subscription service is $100 U.S. MSRP.

For more information on Control4 visit www.control4.com

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
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Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson

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