Bitwise Controls, which was founded by tech industry veterans back in 2008, recently expanded its offerings with a new Dealer Store, a remote access service, and its first handheld remote. Mark Buster, co-founder and chief technology officer said that the Dealer Store enables integrators to download complex two-way device programming modules and add them to a project in seconds.
“These modules are a combination of device programming and pre-configured GUI content,” he said. “Using modules, installers can instantly mimic the lighting control keypad on the wall or provide a comprehensive two-way media browsing and playback experience, all without needing to manually program those things themselves. In most cases, they only need to apply a few small configuration settings, such as entering the serial port to which the device is connected.”
Another perk of the Dealer Store is that a dealer’s purchase history is maintained in his account, so if a module gets updated with new features or performance improvements, it can be re-downloaded and applied to the project via a simple drag-and-drop operation, without needing to re-program the entire project.
BitWise also launched a new Dealer Support Center to provide a single, integrated portal for its knowledge base, training videos, dealer forum, and company announcements. It offers direct access to a support ticketing system, as well.
BitWise Control’s Room Remote co-exists with the company’s Touch app. When it came to launching a new remote access service, security was a key consideration for BitWise. “To give homeowners peace of mind, we designed the remote access service to use the same secure encryption protocols that banks use to protect online transactions,” Buster noted. “We also designed the system to work without the need for new ‘holes’ to be opened in the home network’s firewall. And should the user ever misplace their phone or tablet, they can easily change their credentials or disable remote access of their home system altogether until the device is found.”
A side benefit to all of this extra development effort is that integrators don’t have to do anything extra to set up a project for remote access. “There’s no need to do any complex network configuration like VPN or port forwarding,” Buster said.
Until now, BitWise hasn’t offered control hardware for the end-user, because its app was designed to offer complete whole-home control, along with content browsing and two-way system feedback. But the company realized that nothing matches the convenience and simplicity of a traditional hand-held remote control. The new Room Remote co-exists with the BitWise Touch app, letting a user select an activity with the app, such as “watch movie,” and having any remotes assigned to that room automatically “know” to control that activity.
“Just like with our app and control hardware, there’s no real limit to the scalability. You can have any number and combination of controllers, remotes, and app interfaces in any system,” Buster said.
How BitWise Touch Apps Work
Mark Buster Despite its recent foray into handheld remotes, BitWise’s main interface option is still its Touch app, an “empty shell” that renders GUI files the dealer creates using the company’s Project Editor software.
GUIs can be designed from scratch or built using a template. “The templates are a huge time saver, and they are 100-percent customizable,” said Mark Buster, BitWise co-founder and chief technology officer. “Dealers can alter the templates in any way to provide the exact experience that will work best for the end user. This might mean stripping down the interface to provide maximum simplicity, or they can provide a button for every obscure function and setting in the system.”
The dealer then transfers the GUI design to the app via a simple procedure using the wireless network. Because the graphical elements are stored in the app, the user interface is very fast and responsive, Buster said. Meanwhile, the bulk of the actual system programming is stored in the controllers. This allows a BitWise installation to handle complex automation tasks and event notifications even when the app itself is not being used.
The company’s app is free and requires no “per-device” license fees.