Evaluating Home Subsystems and
Their Mobile Applications for Clients
I was recently pondering what my
integration company’s mobile platform
strategy should be. It needed to one
that would maximize our profitability
by leveraging the fact that all of our
customer’s (and their children) have
mobile devices in their pockets at almost
all times, both inside and outside their
homes. Here is how we approach this
Home Control as a Mobile
There is now a home control application
for almost every product that we sell and
support. Control4 has an Android and
Apple application, the same for Sonos.
URC is accomplished by a number of
available applications, such as the one
from Roomie Remote. This application only requires a Global Cache
Ethernet to IR and serial interface to control all of the AV equipment that
we install. Lutron has a wonderful lighting control app to control lights,
window treatments, and thermostats. GE, via the Alarm.com application,
has a great application for local and remote control of security systems.
Denon and Pioneer have applications for their receivers. TiVO and
DirectTV have applications for their set-top boxes. Panasonic has a rich
application for its line of pan-tilt IP cameras. The list goes on and on.
By the end of 2012 I would expect that every product that we sell in the
home will be enhanced by a mobile control application, from the line
conditioner in the AV rack to the front door bell, to the sprinkler system.
Many of our clients already have experimented with some of these
applications; they may have purchased and self-installed Insteon lighting
products or a Nest thermostat and already enjoy the benefits of controlling
these systems from their mobile devices. As custom installers, we have the
opportunity and professional expertise to augment their existing mobile
control platforms by installing application-supported whole-house audio,
AV, and security systems.
There are several key design considerations that we consider when we
evaluate different home subsystems and their mobile applications for our
|There is now a home control application for almost every product sold and supported by the CI channel, including this one from Sonos. They can serve as a Trojan horse for potential system add-on sales down the road.|
• How many platforms has the application been written for? They
almost all start with an iPhone application, but is there an Android
application? Is there client-based software that runs on an Apple or
Windows computer that has the same look and feel?
• Does the application only control the system when it is on the home
network, or can it control devices from outside the home network? This is
not very important for controlling a TV and a Blu-ray player but is very
important when controlling a security system, hot tub, or a thermostat.
• How often is the application updated and enhanced? How seamless
is this process and what is affected by these updates?
• How stable is the application?
• Where is the control code for the application located? Is it on a
processor platform in the home or in the cloud? The location of this
control code effects our ability to provide remote home control for our
clients’ systems and for us to provide remote troubleshooting.
Mobile Home Control Applications as a Sales Tool
Whenever I visit a new potential client I always take business cards, product
brochures, and a notepad for the discovery interview. But now I have a new
sales tool that I bring with me and it is always in my pocket: my iPhone.
My iPhone has one full screen dedicated to home control applications;
from the palm of my hand I can show a prospective customer controls
for lighting, whole-house music, thermostats, cameras, door locks, alarms,
and even garage doors. For some of these applications I can give them a
live demonstration of their functionality and screen interfaces. For others,
there are application simulators that render a realistic representation of
the application’s performance.
Once we have installed a few of these home control applications, it
is very easy to add future mobile application-based home systems at a
later date. These initial applications have become the Trojan horse for
potential system add-on sales down the road.