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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Home automation leader Control4 (Nasdaq: CTRL) is taking integration to a whole new level with its new OS 2.9 release this week at CEDIA 2016.

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.”

“The customer simply orders Echo, discovers lights, thermostats and scenes and starts making voice commands,” says Control4 director of product marketing Brad Hintze. “Alexa creates a context for home automation that we haven’t seen before.”

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.

Z-Wave Support

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).


DON'T MISS: CE Pro's Ultimate Preview of CEDIA 2016 – 116 Pages!


Control4 Personalization

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

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PRESS RELEASE

Control4 Deepens Homeowner Personalization with OS 2.9


Delivers New Integration Partnerships and Expanded Dealer Opportunities

The “Connects with Control4” program includes nearly 10,000 supported third-party devices, with new partners Amazon, Lutron, Sonos, Z-Wave and more, driving the industry’s largest interoperable smart home ecosystem.

Dallas, TX – September 14, 2016 6:00 PM ET Control4 Corporation (NASDAQ: CTRL), a leading global provider of smart home solutions, announces the immediate availability of the Control4® OS 2.9 and highlights its open platform for the connected home with the “Connects with Control4” program, featuring integration support for nearly 10,000 devices. OS 2.9, the newest operating platform for Control4 automation systems, delivers enhanced experiences for homeowners, multi-dwelling unit (MDU) property developers and residents, and independent Control4 authorized dealers.   

Control4 OS 2.9 introduces more hands-on personalization for the homeowner. Right from a Control4 touch screen interface, homeowners can create their own “Wake Up” and “Sleep” scenes, configured individually by room, including lighting, music, TV, shades, and temperature. Dealers can also customize the Control4 user interface for the unique needs of any smart home with Experience Buttons, which feature dynamic graphical icons for customer favorites, such as fountain, fireplace, and Mockupancy® scenes for easy one-touch access to functions and scenes, along with visual feedback of the scene state. With OS 2.9, Control4 includes an all-new window blinds and shades experience, with an intuitive interface to control and automate individual window coverings as well as the entire system of blinds throughout the home, and includes deep interoperability with products from the leading window shade manufacturers Lutron, Qmotion, and Somfy.

Driving Interoperability in the Connected Home

For Control4 authorized dealers, the Control4 OS is all about enabling device interoperability and enhancing the dealer’s ability to deliver customized smart home experiences for their customers. Composer Express, the award-winning mobile installation tool, allows dealers to quickly scan a “Connects with Control4” QR Code to add it to the project.

“Everything working seamlessly together is central to the connected home experience, yet fluid interoperability remains the number one frustration for consumers, especially when bringing new connected products into their homes,” said Martin Plaehn, Control4 CEO. “The power of Control4, combined with the expert skills of our dealers, along with our vast partner product ecosystem, helps to remove that frustration and delivers the required orchestration and personalization of the connected home to every member of the family.”

The “Connects with Control4” program underscores the Control4 open platform with support for nearly 10,000 connected devices. Within the Control4 ecosystem, 185 companies are now shipping over 1,500 devices enabled with Control4 Simple Device Discovery Protocol (SDDP) technology – making the integration of those products into a Control4 enabled smart home easy and seamless. The “Connects with Control4” family now includes products from Amazon, Lutron, Nest, Somfy, and Sonos.

“Our recently announced endorsed partnership with Control4 will ensure that our sound platform integrates as seamlessly as possible with their system, now and into the future. Our goal together is to deliver the very best audio experience for customers and this is a great example of Sonos serving as the sound platform for the connected home,” said Brad Duea, Managing Director/GM Americas-Pacific at Sonos. “With Control4, customers can listen to music out loud in any room of the home, controlled by simple touch or voice commands, either independently or as part of personalized scenes.”

Continuing to expand the connected home ecosystem, the roll-out of Control4 OS 2.9 delivers the support for 13 specific Z-Wave devices, including electrical outlet and sensor modules to enhance Control4 lighting, comfort, and security solutions. Control4 announced that its entire line of EA Series controllers is now Z-Wave Certified, via a new plug-in Z-Wave module. Additionally, Control4 recently joined the Z-Wave Alliance to further enhance its solutions and offer a greater selection of smart home devices.

The New Control4 MDU Offering for Expanded Dealer Business Opportunity

To enable Control4 dealers to capitalize on the continuing growth in multi-dwelling developments in cities around the world, Control4 announced a new MDU offering that is available today worldwide and powered by OS 2.9. Control4’s MDU offering includes property-wide video intercom communications, better integration with lobby door stations, integration with SIP-based phones, concierge services integration, and a full line of smart home solutions that can be customized for individual residences. The new Control4 MDU offering features a fault-tolerant communications server, which supports properties ranging in size from several to hundreds of residences. Smart MDU properties that include Control4 technology deliver peace-of-mind for the residents and the convenience of a complete video intercom solution that connects individual units via a Control4 touch screen to street-level door-stations from leading providers such as 2N and Siedle. MDU residents can also work with Control4 authorized dealers to design a personalized Control4 system beyond the standard offering and enjoy at-a-touch access to property amenities and concierge services via integration with Vertilinc. The Control4 MDU solutions will be on display during CEDIA 2016 at the Control4 booth #4116.

Availability and Pricing

The capabilities of the Control4 OS 2.9 release are available today for existing customer installations and are also pre-installed on newly ordered EA Series controllers and T3 Series Tabletop Touch Screens.

The new Control4 Z-Wave module is $70 US MSRP, the Control4 Communications Server Lite is $1,350 US MSRP


PRESS RELEASE

Control4 Launches Amazon Alexa Skill for Voice-Enabled Whole-Home Automation


The smart home made easy with Control4 and a single voice command, “Alexa, turn off the house.”

Dallas, TX – September 14 ,2016 6:00 PM ET Control4 Corporation (NASDAQ: CTRL), a leading global provider of smart home solutions, today announces integration with Amazon Alexa, the popular voice service that powers Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices, including Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and Amazon Fire TV. The new Control4® Smart Home Skill provides homeowners with the convenience of whole-home automation through simple and intuitive voice commands that can activate smart home scenes and control individual devices.

Smart Home Scenes Initiate Personalized Experiences

Control4 personalizes a smart home by coordinating connected devices throughout the house into pre-set scenes to set the mood, create ambiance, and provide convenience. For example, using the Control4 skill for Alexa, a “Cooking” scene can raise the lights in the kitchen, lower the shades, and turn on the TV to a preset food channel – all with a single voice command. Additionally, a verbal “Alexa, turn off house” command can shut down the house by turning off all of the lights, lowering the thermostat, locking the doors, and arming the security system.

“Controlling smart home devices using voice is one of the most popular features of Alexa, which is why we’re especially pleased to be working with Control4,” said Charlie Kindel, Director, Amazon Alexa Smart Home. “The vast breadth of devices Control4 supports, brings new capability and an enhanced user experience to the Alexa-enabled household.”

Whole-Home Automation Meets Voice Control

Control4 is one of the first home automation companies to combine smart home scenes with the convenience of the Alexa far-field voice recognition, coordinating connected devices throughout the home. With support for nearly 10,000 popular lighting, audio, video, security, and comfort products, Control4 provides automation to the entire home. Providing homeowners with the flexibility and level of control they desire, devices can also be controlled individually with simple commands to turn a single light on or off, dim lights to create the right mood, or even adjust the temperature from bed.

“On average, our customers have over 40 connected devices in their homes that are orchestrated by Control4 and now, voice interaction with Amazon Alexa offers another convenient way to control all of them,” said Martin Plaehn, Control4 CEO. “This integration combines Control4’s automation power and extensive support for connected devices with the intuitive voice control from Amazon Alexa, reinforcing our shared vision to make life in a connected home ever-more personalized, comfortable, and hassle-free.”

Control4 is the only home automation company that makes it easy for every member of the family to intuitively control everything in the entire home either by remote control, touch screen, mobile device, keypad, and now, voice.

Getting Started is Easy for Control4 Homeowners

Connecting an Alexa-enabled device within a Control4 home is simple and straightforward. A homeowner simply enables the Control4 Smart Home Skill inside the Alexa app, connects with Control4, discovers devices and scenes, and their home is ready for voice control.

The Control4 Smart Home Skill is available now for the entire Alexa family: Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and Amazon Fire TV.

This new Alexa skill is included with a Control4 4Sight subscription ($99 US yearly), and requires an Alexa-enabled device to use it. 4Sight enables homeowners to connect to Control4 cloud-based services, including remotely accessing and controlling their home on an iOS or Android mobile device from anywhere, receiving alerts from their smart home, and using the new Control4 Smart Home Skill for Amazon Alexa devices.

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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EchoLutronQMotionSomfySonosVoice ControlZ-Wave