A huge range of products from washing machines to irrigation controllers now have jumped on the home control bandwagon and offer iPad control of their devices.
A product being "app enabled" is often a highly regarded selling point, regardless of the practicality of it or even the usability.
Tech conscious consumers are starting to accumulate a large number of network or app enabled devices within their home which means that these consumers are also stacking up the individual control apps, and becoming what we call "app collectors".
Having an app per device is reasonably usable with one or two devices, but when this stacks up users find themselves app hopping.
It's almost a case of going backward technologically, take a typical Living room audio visual system as a good example of this tragedy. Before universal remote controls people used to have 3-5 different remote controls, they would hop from remote control to remote control to activate control functions with their system, with universal remotes coming onto the scene the user was able to press one button and the remote or controller would automate the tasks required to get all the devices talking together as one system.
With having a collection of apps it's like having a pile of remote controls, except that these are all sitting on one device however they are not consolidated for one touch control.
As an example say you had electronic external lighting and you wanted to activate lights to check to see if your garage door was open via the external camera. You would open an app for your camera, notice the lighting wasn't bright enough, switch over to your lighting app, turn on the lights, switch back to the camera app, notice your garage door was open then switch over to the garage motor app, then back to the lighting page to turn off the lights for the night.
What if you were able to have one app that controlled all the important features of all your devices, allowing you to do the above from a single page. For example you know that when you selected your camera selection page you would have options there that included any localised lighting, motor control, and even security options.
This is what we call iPad Control, an app that presents a customised array of control options across all your devices and systems, sort of an app to "rule them all" - allowing the user to gain a level of simplicity.
I have an iPad, where can I get this GOD APP??
Unfortunately, it's not yet that simple....most hardware manufacturers don't yet open up their hardware to be controlled easily by third party apps, there are also some devices that are not yet network based or if they are they don't yet accept control signals over the network.
To control these devices you need an automation control processor or a "black box", one that can talk the correct languages to compatible devices. These control processors receive a signal from your iPad or other portable devices when you push buttons, select options or adjust a slider - they then put the different signals together (creating macros) and send them to the appropriate destinations, creating one touch control.
There are some DIY control processors that you can get online or from retail outlets, these are inexpensive options but they are often limited. Great if you want to tinker or experiment with your audio visual system or operate a light or two but generally lack the ability to be customised for specific installations making them seem unreliable.
For reliable iPad control, you need to work out what you want to control, select hardware that allows other systems to talk to said hardware and then have a chat with a home technology solution provider to ensure all the dots can be joined.
For example, electric underfloor heating is a lot easier to control then hydronic underfloor heating.
A good technology consultant or provider will be able to walk you through the options, discuss your requirements and then present an overall solution. In going through the hardware selection you can save automation control costs just with a bit of planning.
If you already have a home with hardware installed and you want a reliable solution for control, there are options available but it all starts with knowing what hardware you want to control and getting good advice. Additions can be added depending on the size of home and build style.
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