Easy Does It: Home Automation For All

The biggest annual event on a custom installer’s calendar is the CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) Expo, which took place September in Denver. This year’s Expo was brimming with new technology, namely the overwhelming rollout of Dolby Atmos, a new surround format that I discussed in my previous column, along with several other exciting introductions like a new laser-powered projector from Epson and several very cool new wireless music system such as Denon’s HEOS and DTS’s Play-Fi.

However, there was another recurring theme at the Expo I think is even more compelling for the automation market, which is companies looking to remove a lot of the pain from programming and simplify things to the point that novice techs or even homeowners can make advanced adjustments on their own. This will bring the cost of powerful automation systems downstream to more affordable price points.

The most notable launch in this category was Crestron’s new Pyng app. This is a huge move for Crestron, as they have been known for complex and lengthy programming for years; however, Pyng installs completely via an iPad app (Android version to come) in just a few moments. Setting up the lighting, shading, thermostat, and door locks in my home took less than an hour! Even cooler, once the initial setup has been completed, a homeowner can create their own lighting or shading scenes, schedule events for specific times of day, modify dimmer and shade settings, and more. These simple things would have required a costly truck roll in the past but can now be done at no cost at any time with about five minutes of training.

Control4 has always been known as a more programmer-friendly automation system, but they are taking that one step further with the introduction of Composer Express, an app-based programming tool that the company claims can result in a 70 percent time savings in setting up single-room home theater systems. With Composer Express, a tech will be able to add a new customer account, register a system, update the OS, and then add devices and map connections from a smartphone or tablet while walking around a home.

Clare Controls is taking this idea a step further with its new MyClareHome, which has a portal for customers to purchase new devices and either install them on their own or schedule for an integrator to do it. The app also allows you to schedule lighting, shade, climate, security, or entertainment events and more. Homeowners can also easily add—and remove—other control devices like iPads and Androids to the system to give a guest temporary access to a home’s control system.

While designed to make life easier for integrators, Bang & Olufsen’s new Gateway will integrate all premium B&O AV systems into virtually everything else in a home, allowing simple control of lighting, shading, security, and even coffee machines via a single B&O remote, tablet, or onscreen display. B&O demonstrated a lifestyle concept at CEDIA, showing lighting and entertainment systems following a family throughout the day. B&O touted its Real-Time Configuration Tool, which is pre-installed with hundreds of drivers from all of the major automation systems and uses a simple graphic interface that “auto-configures itself on the fly” to rapidly speed up automation programming.

When your founder literally invented the dimmer, you have a lot of innovation expectations to live up to, and Lutron’s new Caséta is by far the company’s most powerful automation system intended directly for the DIY market. By connecting the Caséta Smart Bridge to a router, a homeowner can add Lutron switches, dimmers, thermostats, and even shades throughout their home. The Lutron App lets users set up lighting scenes and even control the system when away from home. A more powerful version of Caséta uses the Smart Bridge Pro (available from Lutron integrators) and adds the ability to integrate with third party AV and security systems as well as a broader array of Lutron’s shades.

Finally, Niles demonstrated its new MRC-5430 audio system, Auriel, which uses an app-based wizard to take the heavy lifting out of an install, allowing fairly extensive programming and configuration to be performed via a tablet or system touchscreen. The demonstrator walked me through setting up a six-zone housewide audio system in about 10 minutes, adding control of third-party components, configuring inputs and macros, and even setting up favorite channels. Sound & Vision has secured a review sample, so expect a full rundown on this system soon!

Natalie Rosenzweig's picture


This is a fantastic article. Thank you for the recognition of MyClareHome! Please be in touch with any other inquiries about our products and news.

Natalie Rosenzweig
Marketing Coordinator
Clare Controls