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App Experiences with AV Automation and Control Systems

Who doesn’t love a great smartphone app?

Who doesn’t love a great smartphone app?

I can’t say that the apps that I use the most offer the most extraordinary design elements, but they generally get me closer to content that I enjoy and enable me to personalize my smartphone user experience. Isn’t that why apps were created in the first place?

This month, Residential Systems revisits the topic of apps as they apply to custom-installcentric AV automation and control systems. We wanted to find out what manufacturers have learned over the years as their experience designing and maintaining apps for Apple iOS and Android devices has evolved.

The big theme of the story is that control systems manufacturers are motivated primarily with the goal of closely matching the performance of their apps with their dedicated controllers, to provide an intuitive and consistent experience for the user. Because the standard is high in the open app market, new and dedicated controller designs had to be equal to the task.

“Our goal is not to have the best control app, but the best app, period,” RTI’s Peter Baker said. “To achieve this, we try to improve on what we see in the AV industry. We will also roll in elements that we like from other industries if they help us to create the best product available.”

Crestron’s Kor Baydurcan said that iOS and Android devices have, indeed, “raised the bar” for the CI industry by offering “incredible user interface experiences.”

“This has helped us develop a better solution for our customers,” he said. “The apps that are out there have shaped the capabilities of Core 3UI–our advanced touchscreen GUI framework.”

But that doesn’t mean that apps and dedicated controllers are completely the same or that apps are the tail that wags the dog. The big difference is in the hardware, noted AMX’s Eric Neilson. For example, “AMX’s Modero X Series touchpanels have features, such as light and motion sensors and near field communications (NFC) support, that you don’t yet see in most general-purpose mobile devices,” he said. “The panels also have been designed to industrial standards to last a decade or more in high-use environments, while tablets and mobile phones are usually designed with a two-year product life in mind.”

For URC, the app story comes back to providing a personalized experience for the enduser. The company’s Total Control app allows for easily showing or hiding buttons, customized menus, and setting up profiles for every user in the home (or office). The app even makes it possible to create guest profiles for visitors to operate devices, such as guest bedroom TVs.

“Successful, customer-centric companies must anticipate future requirements and must perceive unspoken needs,” said URC’s Cat Toomey. “Across interfaces, we look to leverage advanced capabilities as new technologies become available and incorporate them to the best advantage of end consumers.”