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Linux-based home automation system adds tablet controller, Android app

Sep 21, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Control4 announced a seven-inch tablet, meant for portable control of its Linux-based Control4 home automation, surveillance, and music-server system. In addition to the Control4 7″ Portable Touch Screen, the company also announced a “Control4 MyHome — Android” app.

We last checked in on Control4's Linux-based Control4 Home Automation system in 2009, when the company announced version 2.0 of its Control4 software and debuted a similar Control4 Energy Management System (EMS) 100 system aimed at smart-grid applications. The flagship Control4 Home Automation system offers music-server features, as well as home automation and security functions such as surveillance camera control and scheduled lighting.


Control4 7" Portable Touch Screen in docking station

The Control4 system revolves around a series of home controller units. The previous, 500GB HC-500 unit has been replaced by HC-200, HC-300, and HC-1000 models. The first two offer 200GB and 300GB SATA storage respectively. The HC-1000 (pictured below) is built on an unnamed Intel processor, and provides 500GB or 1GB of storage, as well as a gigabit Ethernet port and four USB 2.0 ports, according to the company.


HC-1000 home controller, front and back

(Click to enlarge)

Control4 has now added a new portable device to its stable of keypad input devices as well as wall-mount and tabletop touch-panels. In addition, the company launched an Android app that offers Control4 control features (see farther below).

The new Control4 7" Portable Touch Screen looks like a rather thick, seven-inch capacitive media tablet, but is devoted to operating the Control4 system. It is essentially a portable, battery-powered version of the company's seven-inch Table Top Touch Screen, which also comes in a 3.8-inch model. All these devices mimic the functionality of the company's wall-mounted touch-panels, but offer greater convenience and portability.


Control4 7" Portable Touch Screen in docking station

The Control4 7" Portable Touch Screen offers access to the Control4 connected subsystems, including lighting, and security. says Control4. Users can access music by cover art, and even view images from surveillance cameras. In addition, the tablet offers Flash-based control apps for energy monitoring, streaming radio services, parental movie controls, door locks, and setting vacation or wake-up scenes, says the company. (For more information on Control4 features, see our previous Control4 coverage, as well as the Control4 link at the bottom of the story.)

The tablet provides intercom functionality with an extra-cost license activation. Users can engage in an ongoing conversation with people at another connected intercom device without requiring either person to hold down a button, says Control4. Room-to-room ringing, as well as "do not disturb" and privacy features are also available with the intercom license.

Control4 offered no details on the tablet's processor or memory, but the device almost certainly runs the same version of Linux offered on the other Control4 devices. The Portable Touch Screen is equipped with 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, as well as a 3.5mm audio output and a wake-on motion sensor, says the company.


Control4 input devices, including TV with remote, and Touch Screen unit (directly to the right). MyHome apps shown on iPhone and iPad on left will soon be available for Android.

(Click to enlarge)

The seven-inch, capacitive touchscreen offers 800 x 480 resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio, says Control4. In addition, the device features dedicated hardware buttons for volume, changing channels, and navigating A/V component menus. Four programmable buttons are said to offer quick access to frequently used control features.

The 9.5 x 5.0 x 1.4-inch device weighs 3.4 pounds and offers up to six hours battery life in operation, or 24 hours on standby, says Control4. Operating temperatures are said to range from 32 to 104 degrees. A tabletop charging station ships standard with the tablet, turning the device into a tabletop touch-panel, says the company.

Control4 MyHome — Android app

The new Control4 MyHome — Android app for Android 1.6 or higher mobile devices, is in beta development, but should be out in the fourth quarter. Developed by Clever Controls, the app joins Control4's MyHome apps for the iPhone and iPad.

 


Control4 MyHome — Android app on Motorola Xoom tablet and HTC smartphone
 

The Control4 MyHome apps use a smartphone or tablet's Wi-Fi connectivity to allow homeowners to access and control Control4 lighting, temperature, security, music, movies, and more, says the company. The app lets Android users perform tasks such as adjusting lights, locking doors, and managing Rhapsody music playlists, says the company.

Availability

The Control4 7" Portable Touch Screen is available now for an MSRP of $999. The Intercom license is an additional $399, says the company. More information may be found on Control4's Portable product page.

Control4 MyHome — Android is currently in beta testing with select Control4 dealers, and is slated for a Q4 release. The app itself will be available for free download, but to function with a Control4 installation, it requires a $499 MyHome site license or a $199 single-device license. Users who already have MyHome can use the new Android app for free, says Control4.

More information may be found on the company's MyHome page, although details are not yet offered on the Android app.


This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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