Touch Panel Innovations 2009


By Margot Douaihy August 10,2009


 

The Magic Touch

 

TOUCH PANELS IN 2009 ARE AS EXCITING AS THE SYSTEMS THEY OPERATE

Seamless integration
Seamless integration, like that of RTI and its partners, enhances the intuitiveness of the user experience.

“Customers are voting and the iPhone is winning,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, told the public in June. “With over 50,000 applications available from Apple’s revolutionary App Store, iPhone momentum is stronger than ever.”

Apple bucked sluggish economic trends this quarter and reported $8.34 billion in sales and net profit of $1.23 billion. That’s an impressive 15 percent increase in quarterly profit. In just three days in June, more than one million iPhone 3GS models were sold. Six million customers downloaded the iPhone 3.0 software in the first five days of its launch.

The secret to the new iPhone success is improved speed and performance with tighter convergence. The phone takes the guesswork out of WiFi connections and synching libraries. The 3GS slam a dozen devices into one slim device, like its three megapixel autofocus camera with video recording, music player, and hands free voice control. Oh, and there is also the access to more than 50,000 applications from the App Store. And at $99 for the 8GB model, the price is right.

Versatility

Ok, this is not a pep rally for Apple, but what do these figures suggest to CEDIA professionals? They show us exactly what customers want—ease of use, interactivity, convergence, and fun. They also highlight the trend toward devices that intelligently aggregate multiple sources, radio streams, content from various locations on the Web, hard drives, or physical media.

Even the Nintendo Wii has energized the idea of user interaction. Gamers wave their hands or make faces at devices with embedded video readers to play. Wii and Guitar Hero let users move the controller in various ways and the device responds—it’s a genuine two-way relationship.

Sony, Canon, and other CE manufacturers are using facial recognition for real-time feedback. Long-term Sony plans include TVs that instantly censor and activate parental controls if a child is viewing the set.

ELAN’s VIAwe
ELAN’s VIA!Valet10.0- EM

Many 3G smart phones operate with touchscreens and their multitouch interfaces are getting more robust. Rapid response time and better processing allows for nimble touch control-users can zoom in or out quickly, scroll through data, or find images in libraries of information.

This proliferation of multimedia content and touch technology has created a demand for interactive user interfaces in the home, beyond standard fixed touch panels, according to Victor Saverino, Savant Systems director of product management. We now want our metadata, favorites, presets, and menus displayed from both audio and video sources in new ways.

The diversity in Savant’s line of touch panels and user interfaces, Saverino said, will give users the ability to: “do more than ever with their music, videos, and photos with easier and more entertaining and interactive access to their content. Our focus is on the social experience of the user interface.” SAVANT’S SAVVY INTERFACES Saverino says that Massachusettsbased Savant Systems has a line up of notable new and diverse user interface and touch panels that enhance that “social experience” of the interface—especially the Direct Touch Interface. The entire line of touch panels supports full motion video playback and is configured and customized using RacePoint Blueprint™ design tool without writing code. Moreover, with Blueprint, touch screens are autogenerated and also offered with vivid animated backgrounds.

VIA!7.0-EM new
the VIA!7.0-EM

It’s all part of the “Savant vision,” Saverino said. “Savant touch panels provide a stylish and entertaining interface delivering a multitude of options to enhance the user experience. Savant touch panels are available in a variety of form factors and capabilities, from the ROSIE Surface to the ROSIE Touch TV to a family of ROSIE Mobile Devices.” The traditional wired and wireless touch panels are available in sizes ranging from fiveto 24-inch with easy-to-use interfaces.

CRESTRON’S CREATIVE EDGE
Jeff Singer, Crestron’s marketing communications director, says that the idea of interactivity is actually not new to Crestron. “Our approach has always been, and continues to be, an applicationbased approach to product development. We identify needs in the marketplace, and design products to fit that need. In doing so, we develop a broad-based product line with different products to precisely fit any environment and any application.”

Singer noted that Crestron introduced the first (and still the only) touchpanels with Windows-embedded operating systems in 2003. In addition to controlling traditional home systems such as AV, lighting, shades and thermostats, these touchpanels can browse the Internet, access email, view applications such as MS Word, Excel, Adobe Acrobat and more, useful for opening email attachments, Windows Media Player and RealPlayer to enjoy streaming audio and video content from the Web. Crestron also has built-in annotation to electronically draw or write on the touchscreen.

Aurora Multimedia’s
Aurora Multimedia’s WP-6C features OLED touch technology

“All of our touchpanels provide two-way communications and dynamic text/graphics capability to display meta data such as cover art, title, artist and other information, delivering an enhanced user experience. Accessing satellite radio, our touchpanels can actually display whatever is currently playing on every station at that time, so users never miss their favorite song.” At CEDIA Crestron will be introducing the first HD touchpanels, capable of displaying full 1080p video and playing HD audio over copper or fiber.

Singer also emphasized that Crestron has three wireless communications technologies, depending on the application and environment of the project, one of which is WiFi. They use WiFi for streaming media capabilities because it has the necessary data rate to support audio and video content, but WiFi is also short-range, so they offer other forms of wireless communication for other purposes. Crestron’s WiFi touchpanels, like the TPMC-3X, can dock on a table or inwall and come in several sizes, feature sets, and form factors. They operate on 802.11a/b/g, so installers can select the best protocol to use for each installation. “We also developed the first IP-based control system and PC-based touchpanel emulation technology, so you can have a touchpanel interface on any PC, Mac or Webenabled mobile device,” Singer said.

THE ELAN ENVIRONMENT
Paul Starkey, ELAN Home Systems’ vice president of sales and marketing, says the company’s refinements to the popular VIA!Valet line continue to make control more engaging and interactive. “The industry’s moving away from our history in RF, one-way communication. We’re in a much more interactive engagement,” he said. “As more systems come out and more source material needs to be controlled, two-way is essential. The iPhone, Blackberries, smartphones, TV, wireless tablets, we are controlling home technology in different ways. We’re expanding our set of options for customers.”

Savant’s ROSIE
Savant’s ROSIE Surface

But expanding options for better control does not mean confusing consumers. As touch panels evolve the options should be similar and common in look and feel and speak the same visual language. So as performance and media outlets increase in complexity, the need for simple control also increases. It’s an interesting inversion. More high-resolution graphics, quicker response time, lower cost options, real time energy management, instant content aggregation... these are the requirements for today’s customers. Starkey says that the merging with IP experts HomeLogic is taking ELAN down the right path. ELAN’s current VIA!Valet line is promoted for its reliable execution and ease of use. It’s easy to program with ELAN’s VIA!TOOLS software; pre-written, two-way serial drivers for the VIA!Valet10.0-EM, Lutron’s HomeWorks®, Jandy Aqualink®, and Lutron RadioRA, and other two-way and one-way serial drivers save hours in the field.

THE RTI RECIPE
Like Starkey noted, in the past, two-way communication was reserved for very complex integration projects, and one-way RF was more common. But new platforms are rolling out that simplify implementation, allowing integrators to provide their customers with a more sophisticated level of control and automation. Pete Baker, vice president of sales and marketing for RTI, says his company’s solution does just that. “Two-way communication between our control solutions and other manufacturers’ devices provides more seamless integration and greatly enhances the intuitiveness of the user experience,” he said about the recent release of RTI’s ZigBee-enabled twoway devices.

Truly hands-on
Truly hands-on navigation

AURORA ADVANCEMENTS
Aurora Multimedia Corp., based in New Jersey, makes versatile systems for a variety of residential and commercial contractors, but Aurora’s Paul Harris says that it’s time for a change. “Consumers want something different,” he said. Which is why the company is debuting its new WP-6C Color OLED panel.

The OLED full color screen is a whole new appeal, and according to Aurora’s Harris they are the only company offering it. The WP-6C six button controller fits easily into onegang outlet box. 65,000 brilliant colors make it especially bright. The hybrid button and OLED touch panel combines two systems in one and offer a markedly different appeal, Harris says: “people still like to push a button.” Sometimes touch technology can be overwhelming; you have to have just the right touch or it’s difficult to navigate quickly. Harris says the hard buttons are less overwhelming for users. “Everyone has a touch panel, but how many people have buttons to guide them through? With a touch screen you have to find your way through it, this is specific and simplistic.”

doesn’t mean it is limited: “It’s also layers and layers deep. It’s more than a remote; it’s a controller, and the iPhone can also control it. It can work with any control platform, Apple, Windows, Linux. This is the high end, it is different and has options. It is what you need it to be, how you need it to be.”

Margot Douaihy is a contributing editor of Residential Systems magazine and director of the QYP Writing Center at the Studio at Colton in New Orleans.

 

Crestron Electronics

 

REDEFINING PERFORMANCE

The TPMC-3X is powered by
The TPMC-3X is powered by 16-bit
graphics for high-res images, PNG
translucency, animation, and 3D
graphics using DNav dynamic menu
objects.

New Handheld WiFi Touchpanel
The TPMC-3X Handheld WiFi Touchpanel delivers long range, omnidirectional communication, providing the full Crestron experience in a small, mobile form factor. With integrated 802.11a/b/g technology, the TPMC-3X ensures secure, high speed 2-way wireless performance, reliable Crestron control and Ethernet connectivity to view Webcams and video servers. The intelligently engineered “sleep mode” enables the TPMC-3X to remain connected to the WiFi network while conserving the dealerreplaceable, rechargeable battery.

Redefining handheld remote control, the TPMC-3X dramatically improves the range and performance from previous generations of WiFi devices. Featuring omni-directional, 360-degree communications that optimizes WiFi coverage, TPMC-3X is the ultimate mobile control solution. Significantly extending battery life, the TPMC-3X goes into a virtual “sleep” within seconds when idle. Maintaining a constant network connection, the TPMC-3X revives instantly when picked up. The highly responsive TPMC-3X is the ideal room controller for today’s home theaters.

KEY FEATURES:
■ 802.11a/b/g technology
■ Omni-directional communication
■ Ergonomic lay-out of the twentynine tactile buttons
■ Five-way navigation thumbpad with three configurable “softkeys” and a pushbutton on the side
■ Simple and flexible on-screen menu navigation
■ Every button features highly visible backlit text
■ Fully programmable to support quick access to commonly used functions, even pan/tilt camera control

The TPMC-4SM is an ideal
The TPMC-4SM is an ideal touchpanel
for any new or retrofit application.

The touchscreen displays and controls real-time lighting and temperature levels, menu commands, channel favorites, and an alphanumeric keypad; custom WAV file audio feedback is also supported. For presentation preview, surveillance or entertainment, video from security cameras, movies, and other sources is made possible by the Crestron CEN-NVS100 MJPEG encoder, which converts video to streaming media.

TPMC-4SM Touchpanel Media Center

The TPMC-4SM harnasses the power of Crestron over Ethernet. The ultra-thin, affordable PoE touchpanel features single wire connectivity and an assortment of mounting options, enabling you to walk into any environment and install the 4SM on any surface quickly and easily using only standard Ethernet for power, control and communication. No electrical outlets or control wire are needed. Whether the project is a modern, glass home or an historic house with brick or stone walls, the TPMC-4SM provides a simple, elegant installation. Simply connect the TPMC-4SM to the network using standard Ethernet to communicate with a Crestron control system to control AV distribution, lighting, shades, thermostats and more. Perfect as a bedside panel for whole house control and hotel guest rooms, and flush wall mount control in hallways, living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms. Streaming audio and video, two-way IP intercom and WAV file feedback round out this single-wire, low-profile, feature-rich network interface. The TPMC-4SM is available with a no-button bezel, and in black or white.

KEY FEATURES:
■ Compact, ultra-thin, stylish design
■ High-speed Ethernet and PoE single-wire connectivity
■ Available with tabletop, glass mount, flush mount and tilt mount options
■ Direct network connectivity to RoomView™ software

 

 

Remote Technologies Incorporated (RTI)

 

ZIGBEE-ENABLED, TWO-WAY COMPATIBILITY

handheld system controllers
From left: T4, T3-V, T2-C and handheld system controllers

Minnesota-based RTI continues to distinguish its control solutions from competitor products by expanding its broad assortment of professional control solutions and with the release of its new two-way communication platform. Using advanced control processors and the company’s proprietary programming software, RTI’s solutions offer tight integration with third-party devices for intuitive control of A/V as well as lighting, HVAC, multiroom audio/video, security, and other electronic systems.

The line expansion includes twoway- compatible ZigBee® versions of the T2-C, T3-V, and T4 handheld system controllers, with more to be introduced at CEDIA. They will all communicate with compatible RTI processors using the ZM-24 ZigBee® Transceiver Module. Firmware updates add two-way functionality to several existing RTI devices, including the XP-8 system controller and the RK3 and K4 in-wall touch panels.

K4 in-wall touch panel
K4 in-wall touch panel

via two-way RS-232 or IP over Ethernet. Combined with the infrared and relay control capabilities already available, the XP-8 can now control virtually any device in the system and receive feedback from many key products via pre-built drivers from RTI. This metadata is transferred wirelessly from the XP-8 to the ZigBee® handheld controllers via the ZM-24 transceiver. The XP8 can control and receive feedback from the RK3 and K4 in-wall controllers directly via built-in Ethernet connections.

RTI’s ZigBee-enabled, Two-way In-wall and Handheld Models

The XP-8 central processor eq
The XP-8 central processor


OPEN ARCHITECTURE, SEAMLESS INTEGRATION
Designed with an open architecture, RTI’s remote controls and in-wall touch screens interface with a wide variety of integration products. The close relationship of RTI with other leading manufacturers of A/V equipment, fostered through the RTI Integration Partner Program, has enabled the company to supply drivers that simplify control configuration through very efficient drag-and-drop programming. Additional drivers are in production and will be released by RTI on a regular basis. Dealers can sign up for an RSS feed from the “dealer area” of www.rticorp.com; to be notified when future drivers are released.

RTI’s two-way compatible controllers also feature an intuitive new graphical user interface designed to support two-way communication and display real-time system information and metadata. The GUI provides instant feedback on current song selection, security status, or environmental services like climate or energy consumption. Web-based templates provide homeowners with quick access to current and forecasted weather conditions directly on their controllers.

The entire line of RTI products are programmed via the renowned Integration Designer® platform, a Windows®-based software package. The new 7.0 version offers new enhancements to help integrators take advantage of the new two-way functionality.

 

Savant Systems

 

THE NEW FACE OF CONTROL

Direct Touch Interface with capacitive
Direct Touch Interface with capacitive glass technology

DIRECT TOUCH INTERFACE
Savant’s Direct Touch Interface is a unique, innovative, and entertaining control and automation solution that uses cutting-edge capacitive glass technology. Direct Touch is available with in-wall and tabletop touch panels providing “iPhone™-like” navigation and gesture control anywhere in the home.

Designing an intuitive user interface (UI) is a key to satisfying a homeowner with a whole-house control system. With that in mind, the Direct Touch Interface allows you to touch or swipe actual photographs of your home as the touch screen interface to turn on or off (or dim) lights, lower or raise shades, or even turn on and off home theater vignettes. No more static icons of light bulbs or shades to represent services. If you want to turn on a light, you simply touch the actual light on the touch screen. Not only does the light in the room turn on, but it also lights up on the touch panel.

Control OSD Interface
SAVANT iPhone™ Control OSD Interface

Dealers and system integrators alike now have an additional product to offer that not only generates the “wow” factor, but also delivers value and usefulness to the home or business, and literally reflects the customer’s own personal decor and ambience.

MOBILE DEVICES
The ROSIE Home Automation Application transforms your iPhone™ or iPod touch® into a complete ROSIE Wireless Control Interface. Control your ROSIE system with simple taps and gestures, and enjoy multi-zone whole-house control and two-way feedback from all of your services across the house and remotely from the palm of your hand. Coupled with full support for secure remote access, the application delivers complete whole-house control in your pocket from anywhere.

The ROSIE Surface
The ROSIE Surface

Savant believes its solutions deliver novel and entertaining

 

applications that will shake up the market and take advantage of the iPhone’s large display, multi-touch user interface, fast hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, built-in accelerometer, and location-based technology.

ROSIE TOUCH TV AND ROSIE SURFACE
The family of ROSIE Touch TV user interfaces is the ideal multipurpose solution for viewing HD video content, while simultaneously functioning as a large display whole-house control interface. They are available in 24- and 40-inch HD LCD displays.

ROSIE TOUCH TV
The first Apple®-based surface product, the ROSIE Surface brings the converged functionality and capabilities of Savant’s touch panels to a surface technology that is practical on the one hand, entertaining and exciting to use on the other

The ROSIE Touch TV
The ROSIE Touch TV

ROSIE TOUCH 24
The perfect dual-purpose solution— elegant all-in-one desktop computer and whole-house control interface. The iMac-based ROSIE Touch 24 supports all the control capabilities of SAVANT’s suite of touch panels. You won’t want to hide your iMac®-based ROSIE Touch 24 in a corner of the den. You’ll want it front and center in your life. With an anodized aluminum fame and glass cover, it's striking to behold.

 

ELAN Home Systems


FEATURE-RICH CONTROL SOLUTIONS FOR EVERY APPLICATION

ELAN Home Systems is a leading manufacturer of innovative multiroom audio/video and home automation systems. ELAN’s diverse lines offer complete lifestyle solutions for every customer need. And now with MSRPs ranging from $380 to $2000, more people can enjoy touchpanel technology creating new opportunities for ELAN dealers.

VIA!®VALET10.0-EM
■ 10-inch, widescreen video touchpanel
■ Ideal for tabletop and under-cabinet mounting
■ Ultra-fast response, reliable execution, live video and ease of programming
■ Great option for the senior market (larger format and bigger buttons)
■ Easy to program with ELAN’s newest VIA!®TOOLS software with pre-written two-way serial drivers for Lutron’s HomeWorks®and RadioRA, Jandy Aqualink®, and many other integration partners

ELAN’s VIA!®10.0-EM
(Left to right) ELAN’s VIA!®10.0-EM, OLÉ®XL, VIA!®Valet10.0-EM, N800, and XP84

N800 FOUR-INCH HANDHELD CONTROLLER
■ Reliable wireless control of all entertainment, theater, and whole-house systems
■ Internet access
■ A sleek hand-held package makes the ideal go-anywhere controller for the entire house.

OLɮXL FILM INTERACTIVE TOUCHPAD
■ Revolutionary functionality, keypad-like simplicity, affordability
■ Unmatched customization
■ Extra-large OLED display

XP84
■ Wireless 8.4-inch touchscreen, great high-res graphics
■ Same functionality as the N800, priced very competitively and includes a great charger station that sits on Ethernet
■ New, extended battery life

VIA! IN-WALL TOUCH PANELS
■ Four in-wall sizes and price-points to choose from
■ 10- and 7-inch widescreen models
■ 4-inch model suitable for any application and budget
■ Live video monitoring on all models
■ Easy to program

Aurora Multimedia

THE DIFFERENCE CUSTOMERS WANT

OLED WP-6C
The new OLED WP-6C six-button hybrid panel

WP-6C Six-button OLED Color Touch Panel

The WP-6C OLED is an innovative hybrid product that blends the best of the old world and the new world. It combines the most advanced touch screen technology with six hard buttons for the satisfying sensation of a tactile button press. Dynamic actions take place instantly as a button is pressed and almost all practical system designs can be accomodated by this innovative device. Includes one serial and one IR/Serial onboard control ports. WP-6C offers a superior user experience with unique OLED brightness. It’s the difference that the discerning customer will appreciate.

KEY FEATURES:
■ OLED color button panel
■ Combines six hard buttons with individual dynamic screens
■ Internal Web server
■ Power over Ethernet

The IBZ-1044W 10.4-inch
The IBZ-1044W 10.4-inch wireless panel

The IBZ-1044W 10.4-inch LED backlit wireless panel

In September Aurora is also introducing the Bluetooth-enabled 10.4-inch LCD wireless panel, the IBZ-1044W. This panel is a thin-client tablet PC that is compatible with most browserbased IP control systems. Unlike most products in its class, the IBZ-1044W can run Macromedia Flash and AJAX (the most versatile format for touch panel interfaces). Includes a built-in kickstand and long-life battery, super bright LED backlight, and 802.11b/g/n connectivity.

It’s built on the Windows CE.NET operating system which means that it is restricted into a “kiosk mode” in which changing settings, controls, and configurations can be disabled if required. This level of security will ensure that your system will be protected from system problems that may occur with an unsecured panel. Its non-proprietary nature means that it can work with any IP-based control system.

KEY FEATURES:
■ Faster to setup and easier to maintain than similar systems.
■ Built-in wireless connectivity (802.11 b/g/n).
■ Using Macromedia Flash, you can create your own vector graphics for a slick look on the touch panel
■ Touch panel pages are served from a WACI control system or any other IP based control system
■ Extended operational time with power saving modes
■ Priced lower than competitors proprietary control system’s color touch panels (includes charging base)
■ Shipping in September

The NXT-700 seven-inch in-wall panel
The NXT-700 seven-inch in-wall panel with an integrated control system

NXT-700 Seven-inch Inwall Color Touch Panel
The NXT-700 is a seven-inch in-wall panel with a fully integrated, wholehouse control system. The hybrid touch panel includes a control system processor with multiple ports and a Web-based touch screen controller that is expandable to 16 GB. The touch panel display is a seven-inch widescreen surface with a fully loaded 32-bit 900-MIPS WACI engine.

The integrated nature of this system offers a significant cost-savings for dealers versus competitor products. Set it up as a fully distributed system or it can be localized. It can also be remotely controled from any device with browser capabilities. As a registered Bluetooth adopter, Aurora has added a Bluetooth microphone option into the NXT-700 for voice-lift applications. The hybrid can utilize other common Bluetooth accessories and includes an internal audio mixer.

KEY FEATURES:
■ Bluetooth option
■ Whole-house automation for controlling every subsystem
■ Seven-inch display, wall-mountable
■ Expandable to 16 GB with VoIP support
■ MP3 playback/Stereo input and output
■ Shipping in September

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