Control systems are at the heart of a fully integrated home. And yet the past 12 months have been a period of remarkable and continuing change in the controls world.
Towards the end of October 2010, the industry received word that Philips was closing its Pronto business because it “no longer represented a good fit with the Philips strategy”. Cue a frantic, though ultimately unsuccessful, search for Pronto buyers and the demise of a popular controls brand. As this door closed, other brands were re-invigorated, seeing an opportunity to fill the gap created by Pronto’s departure.
All this has taken place against a backdrop of increasing commoditisation in the controls marketplace: iPhones, iPads and tablet devices are now commonplace as user interfaces in residential CI schemes while less expensive products and systems are becoming more and more sophisticated.
So what does the future hold?
This year’s CEDIA Home Technology Event will provide an invaluable touch-point for CI control brands. The show will feature a compelling mix of the industry-leading brands that drive and shape the market, alongside new entrants seeking to capitalise on the business potential within it.
AWE Europe, formerly the UK distributor for Philips Pronto, will be marking the show with the decisive unveiling of its new relationship with one of the world’s top-selling control brands, URC.
“We are proud that URC has appointed AWE as its exclusive distributor in the UK,” explains Stuart Tickle, managing director of AWE Europe. “The Complete Control series is a comprehensive range of controls and processors that have gained URC an amazing 88% remote control market share in the USA [source : CE Pro top 100]. Our proven ability to offer market-leading products with great delivery, training and service back-up is complemented by URC’s success in the USA for delivering exceptional levels of quality, reliability and technical support at realistic price points. It’s a perfect match and we look forward to showcasing the range in front of visitors at this year’s CEDIA Home Technology Event.”
Among the debut exhibitors, ControlFX is determined to make a big impact. “ControlFX are leading the way in how touchscreen tablets are becoming the future, for intelligent controllers of tomorrow,” enthuses Andy Lloyd, the company’s managing director. “With the demise of one or two dedicated controllers over the last year, ControlFX see the Home Technology Event as a major opportunity to demonstrate our control system that currently runs on Apple touchscreen devices, to custom installers looking for an alternative solution. Since the launch of ControlFX in 2010 we now have over 300 dealers. At the Home Technology Event we will be showing an exciting portfolio of new 2-way modules for multi-room, home cinema, intelligent lighting, motorised curtains and blinds, plus security”.
Crestron will be strongly represented at the show. “Our main focus for the event will be on Crestron’s increasingly popular Prodigy range,” says Petra van Meeuwen, the company’s marketing manager. “This simple and affordable solution gives our dealers the opportunity to expand their market to provide home control for every lifestyle and budget.
Gira (Control9 pictured) continues to develop new products for the building control market. “Our stand at the Home Technology Event will showcase the latest Push Sensor 3 with integrated room temperature controller,” says UK account manager Muir Baxter. “We are also demonstrating the ability to control a wide range of bus functions, the Apple/Homeserver interface for convenient mobile operation of a building, and the Dual/VdS smoke alarm device that is equipped with both optical and thermostatic sensors”.
The CEDIA Home Technology Event will be significant too for Invision UK. “We are the exclusive distributor of RTI control solutions in the UK and they really are the ideal replacement for the discontinued Philips Pronto product line,” comments Chris Dawson, product manager at Invision UK. “There has never been a better time for installers to familarise themselves with RTI’s award-winning products and world-renowned programming software.”
Another distributor, RGB Communications will also be highlighting a new controls relationship at the show, Savant. “We have been searching for an advanced control solution for some time and are delighted to welcome Savant to our product portfolio,” comments Caroline Britt, RGB’s managing director. “The Savant product line includes some of the most innovative, technically advanced hardware and software in the market and will rival the more traditional control solutions. Savant is the world’s leading Apple-based control/ automation solution and by combining our technical expertise and passion, along with Savant’s outstanding products and services – together, we will take the market by storm.”
Carlo Gavazzi, Legrand, Vantage and VDA will also be showcasing control systems at the show.
“Home control should be easy and intuitive," says Koen Pepermans, general manager at Vantage. “This means enabling homeowners to leverage pre-existing devices that are already integral to their lifestyles. The iPhone and iPad are everywhere. Luxury living means satisfying whims instantaneously to realise and maintain ideal comfort levels from any location, at once. Vantage has made it simple for homeowners to dim lights, change temperatures, manage music, and more from the iPad, a resource that is nearly always on their person. This is ‘next-generation luxury, available now’.”
On the subject of lighting controls, Ivan Lewis of VDA discusses the numerous benefits of the Vitrium solution: "Vitrum is more than merely an incredibly attractive and eye-catching lighting control system that can be accessed through your iPad as a remote control unit. It is environmentally friendly with its ‘energy-saving’ mode, and as a result of a revolutionary design concept, focuses on simplicity of use and attractive glass styling, offering complete freedom in terms of colour coordination. With Vitrum, light switches, thermostats, curtain and blind controls and all other domestic electrical controllers become eye-catching designer items. With its high-tech wireless heart, Vitrum heralds a new era in intelligent home automation, and can be installed by qualified electricians."
All this activity on the show floor will be supported by exhibitors offering free training at the event alongside CEDIA’s own courses on the subject.
“In many ways, 2011 is a pivotal year in controls for the residential custom installation sector,” sums up Cheryl Carroll, event manager for the Home Technology Event. “Whichever direction the market takes, it’s clear that control will be one of those issues taking centre stage at the show following the upheavals of the last twelve months. We offer a great place for visitors to check out the various systems provided by different suppliers and brands, review their options and move forward with the technologies that are right for them and their business”.
The Home Technology Event will be taking place at ExCeL London from Tuesday 28 to Thursday 30 June. That’s when the exhibition show floor will be open although delegates will be able to attend CEDIA Training courses a day earlier from Monday 27th. For a full list of all the controls exhibitors taking part at the show, further information and to register for the event, visit the show website.