For years, Charlie Kindel has felt that many companies playing in the smart home space, to put it bluntly, haven’t been very smart. He contends that some in the industry have failed customers who appreciate being on the cutting edge of technology and that we have now reached a tipping point.
With more than 13 billion devices expected to be connected throughout U.S. homes by 2020, there is no mistaking that the smart home revolution is marching forward despite some obvious hurdles. However, Kindel, who is the Senior Vice President of Product and Services for Control4, and a veteran security/AV media professional dedicated to creating a smart home ecosystem that is both innovative and consumer-friendly, figures his company’s new release of its Smart Home OS 3 solution is stepping up to meet all challenges consumers might face when it comes to designing, implementing and servicing their smart home systems.
“The rapid introduction of these products has fractured the experience for customers. In the smart home space, there's so many standards and there's so many different product options that it leads to so much complexity for homeowners and it's just going to get worse over time. These disparate smart home devices and accessories don't work well together, nor do they meet the promise of easy, convenient, or better customer experiences. Consumers are frustrated,” laments Kindel.
The Goal is to Simplify
But he’s looking for that to change now that Control4’s launch of Smart Home OS 3 was announced May 23. OS 3 is designed to unify hundreds of connected devices within the home, control them all from a single platform, deliver the personalization homeowners crave, and facilitate the professional support smart home technology needs. The goal is simple according to Kindel and Senior Director of Product Marketing Brad Hintze; simplify the use of as many connected devices throughout the home as possible and exceed expectations for how people live with technology. OS 3 offers more than 1,000 new features and capabilities including fluid, refined, and intuitive interfaces providing one-touch control for favorite devices and scenes, at-a-glance views for security and lighting, one-touch music and video streaming, and more, all in a singular platform across Control4 and third-party products.
“We're excited about this release and delivering on the need for a complete smart home operating system in these homes. You'll see that OS 3 unifies all the connected devices within the home and it offers a broad choice for all our customers to be able to select the best products, their favorite products, and bring them into the home’s ecosystem,” says Hintze. “OS 3 really takes the ability for a homeowner to personalize their system, to make it exactly what they want and take it to new levels. Of course, OS 3 is still committed to facilitating a professional install and support. OS 3 has been the fastest deployment to our dealers that we've ever released.”
Hintze continues saying that one of the core tenets and a key component of a smart home operating system is that it must reach out across the entire home. A viable system that is important to the family will handle mission critical tasks like lighting and security along with those things that many homeowners use to relax and spent family time including video and music.
“OS 3 enables all of those systems to be connected and orchestrated to work together. Also delivering on simplicity, OS 3 is designed for the variety of interfaces and the ways that the family will interact with the system. You'll see that there is some familiarity with the user interface between each of the devices, but they're really optimized for the way they get used by the family. That is what makes it so that everyone in the family can use it, including your guests and those that come to visit. With OS 3, we have brought forward a thriving and growing ecosystem with over 13,000 devices in our ecosystem that can be supported,” Hintze says.
With more than 7,500 Control4 SDDP-embedded products that are shipping from other manufacturers, that include Control4 software and easily integrate into a Control4 home, Hintze believes that OS 3 offers the most choice for any homeowner looking for an installed smart home.
“Today, we have 5,800 dealers and 22,000 or more trained technicians working for those dealers. All those technicians have experience with Control4 and OS 3 so we’re not making them learn a new operating system. We're not making them learn new tools. We're simply making them more efficient and better at what they do with OS 3,” adds Hintze.
Innovative Features Provide Advanced Customization
The OS 3 platform allows the customer to “elevate” or prioritize certain functions across the home which allows for more customization.
“One of the things that we're really excited about with OS 3 is giving homeowners the ability to elevate their favorite things, their favorite devices, their favorite playlists, their favorite services, their favorite movie scenes. They can elevate those to the top of the room, giving them one-touch access to those things that are most important to them. And they can change that at any time using the same interactions that they're used to doing on their mobile phone -- press and hold and then you can elevate to the top, you can rearrange, or you can delete,” points out Hintze. “You can also hide those icons that are unimportant for that particular room. For instance, if you don't want the kids on their touchscreen to adjust the thermostat in their room, you can hide that and take that out of the interface. This also enables homeowners to create dashboards because at home what’s important is not necessarily limited to what's in the room in which you're currently standing.”
Besides the “favorites” function, other advanced characteristics of the OS 3 platform include:
- The ability to assemble whole-home dashboards for at-a-glance views of the most vital devices from any room. In the master bedroom, Favorite the front door lock, garage doors, and security cameras to ensure the home is secure before going to bed.
- Being able to easily see only the lights that are on, the blinds that are open, and the doors and security zones that are secure, a necessary capability required when you have many connected devices throughout the home.
- Letting homeowners personalize their system and tailor it to their needs as they live and grow with it. Edit or create smart home scenes, set schedules to automate devices, and modify how devices interact.
- OS 3 has reimagined multi-room entertainment. With OS 3 share your music throughout the home with an elegant look, crisp sound, and the ease of one-touch access to the most popular streaming services. Stream video with the same intuitive approach, just relax and watch.
o Music and video take a prominent position with Active Media located at the top of the screen, showing music controls, and track details right at the front.
o Streaming music and video throughout the home is simple with all-new Sessions to easily add or remove rooms, adjust the volume everywhere or within a single room.
- OS 3 adds native support for streaming high-resolution audio in Control4 systems with the addition of MQA (Master Quality Audio). Now homeowners can stream better-than-CD quality music through TIDAL Masters and listen to their own MQA-encoded music collection.
- Advanced security system management — With unified lock management, lock users, and PINs are now easily managed through OS 3 for all locks (with no need to create and edit users for each lock). Create a user, assign a PIN and a schedule, and apply the changes to all locks installed in the home.
- Coordinated shade control — New blind and shade options with more than 350 new icons that represent the wide variety of ways window coverings operate, let users easily see all shades that are open, and with one-button press, close them across the house.
- Users can set a different wallpaper for every room, choosing from a variety of designer-approved images or their own photos matched to their home and lifestyle.
- Dealer Tools — Control4 has been well-regarded in the industry with tools that enable swift, easy, and reliable deployment. With OS 3, dealers will enjoy enhancements that further simplify programming, reduce repetitive tasks, and speed up deployment.
Commitment to Building out the Infrastructure
Charlie Kindel insists that smart homes need technology that's built into the home to operate as a part of the core unction of the home. He and his team use the term infrastructure. If the lights or the TV doesn't work for a family member, they're more than just flustered, he says.
“By infrastructure, we mean that these scenarios have become mission critical. With a Control4 system, for example, there is no other lighting system in the house. It's not an accessory, it's part of the home, and it serves that mission-critical need. For more than 15 years, Control4 has been steadfast in our assertion and our belief that we need to meet the expectation of the smart home through professional installation. When DIY was the rage, we didn't waver from this. We stayed focused and our continued investments on the professional channel that has made us the clear leader,” says Kindel. “We're not just the ones saying it's a requirement. Customers are asking for it. They want local professional help in creating their smart home. Control4 is and has always been overt about consumer privacy. We hold customers' privacy to the utmost respect, and we want to make sure that their data and their usage of devices is secure. With so many devices and manufacturers orchestrating together, Control4 is committed to keeping the trust of homeowners, keeping that information private.”
About the Author: Steve Lasky is the Editorial Director of Endeavor Security Media, which includes print publications Security Technology Executive, Security Dealer & Integrator, Locksmith Ledger Int’l and the world’s most trafficked security web portal SecurityInfoWatch.com. He is a 32-year veteran of the security industry and a 27-year member of ASIS.