Product Report: Cool Meets Practical in Home Control and Displays

Product Report: Cool Meets Practical in Home Control and Displays


Mosaiqq’s video walls feature a wide array of windows that can be resized for your pleasure and convenience. Photo courtesy of Mosaiqq.

We see a lot of really cool home technologies. Some blow us away. Some make us shrug. Some aren’t useful at all. So we’re always on the prowl for practical home technology solutions that make sense for homeowners. And some products, like the control systems below, are plenty cool and practical—as well as affordable.

Then there are the absolute jaw-droppers, like Mosaiqq software on large-format video touchscreens that can be used as display art, video monitors and Internet browsers—all at the same time, with windows that be resized and moved monitor to monitor. Sure, a product like this fits into the very high-end custom category—and won’t be considered “practical” by many.

Still, who wouldn’t want it? It may not be long until we all have video walls like this.

 

 

Photo courtesy of BitWise Controls.

Today’s Wise Interfaces

BitWise Controls is known for affordable home automation operable from Apple and Android phones and tablets, which homeowners increasingly want to use to control their home systems. BitWise offers scalable systems with one-room and whole-house controllers that connect to other systems like lighting and audio/video—as well as custom and template-based user interfaces that can be suited to the homeowner’s preferences. BitWise also has interfaces for popular products like Aprilaire thermostats and Lutron lighting systems that mimic those systems’ looks and feel, so there’s no need to learn new controls. You can get started for just $549, plus installation, with a one-room BC4 processor, then scale up with BC2 or BC1 for $989 and $1,549, and use the BC4 as an expansion module. Any device controllable by IR, RS-232 or IP can be connected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Vivint.

 

Vivint Rising

 

What is Vivint? Is it one of those connected home and automation plays? Is it a solar systems provider? A broadband service provider? Now, it’s all of the above, or aiming to quickly become so.

 

Vivint has been selling fairly robust and reliable home control, security, automation and energy management systems using hardware from 2GIG and it’s Go! Controller, in addition to Alarm.com for connectivity. (Watch for a proprietary controller to come.) Users can control lighting, thermostats, add motion and window sensors, small appliance controllers, video surveillance, electronic door locks and more. In the near future, watch for energy monitoring and advanced energy analytics that can provide energy-efficiency comparisons and recommendations. The company is also offering solar in several states through power purchase agreements (PPAs) that work like solar leases, saving users about 20 percent on electricity costs without any upfront investment. Only users buy the power they produce with a PPA.

 

Now Vivint is testing wireless broadband access with stellar speeds of about 50 Mbps both for downloads and uploads — and at a fraction of the price of cable system costs. Could that be something for a community development eyeing robust connectivity?

 

Vivint could be a great fit for some homebuilder developments. The company is already working with Garbett Homes in Utah, which is installing Vivint Solar systems (though not through a PPA) and Vivint home control with automated door locks, security sensors, Z-Wave thermostats, plug-in Z-Wave modules (not switches) and cameras.

 

We’ll be watching Vivint closely. You should, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of RTI.

 

Cool and Practical

 

Touchscreens, smartphones and tablets can make great controllers, but do you really want to take the time to access an app for simple tasks like turning on the lights or cranking the tunes?

 

Affordable home control company RTI deftly blends cool touchscreen home control with good-old hard buttons for everyday tasks. The KX-2 in-wall touchscreen has 12 hard buttons flanking its 2.8-inch touchscreen.

 

The hard buttons can be custom-programmed by an electronics installer and custom-engraved. Other features blend the cool and practical as well—like a proximity sensor that automatically brings the controller to life when approached and an ambient light sensor that adjusts the unit’s backlight level according to its surroundings.

 

Multiple bezel options allow the KX2 to blend seamlessly into any decor. It fits in a 4-by-4-inch electrical box, wired and powered with one Category 5 networking cable.

 

The $379 controller can directly operate IR (infrared) devices, be paired with an RTI audio distribution system or one of RTI’s home controllers. A KX1 single-gang in-wall controller is due in January.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Mosaiqq.

 

Jaw-Dropping Video Decor

 

By far one of the coolest technologies we’ve seen is Mosaiqq’s Photo software running on large-scale 3M touchscreens, allowing you to decorate with art and video, call up photos and resize them or move windows from screen to screen. You can also call up recipes or whatever else you want on the Internet, see video from surveillance cameras, or watch TV via an app that allows wireless streaming from a cable or satellite box. We first saw this in a kitchen backsplash application, but they can be used anywhere. Swipe a window up or down and it disappears—or connect to a home control system to set up windows you want to appear on the screens for certain events, like breakfast or dinner or entertaining.

 

Mosaiqq president Anders Nancke-Krogh says a system is being planned in the exclusive Wingtip social club in San Francisco, where the displays will wrap around three columns to create excitement at the bar area. High-end home electronics integration companies under the new VIA brand, such as Engineered Environments of Alemeda, Calif., are installing these in homes.

 

Costs are $5,000 for the software that runs on a computer, plus the costs of the 3M touchpanel displays, computer, cabling and labor. Nancke-Krogh says you can get a system using dual 21-inch monitors for under $10,000. If you want to see the system in action and you’re in San Francisco, stop by Studio Becker’s furnishings showroom to see a demo. The supported monitor sizes range from 18.5 to 46 inches.

 

Here’s the Mosaiqq Photo systems cost breakdown:

 

  • MRSP retail price (incl. residential AV installer markup) is $5,000 for the software.
  • A typical computer is $1500 to $2,000
  • A 3M touch monitor will cost $800 to $6,500.
  • Supported monitor sizes:18.5, 21, 24, 27, 32 and 46 inches.

 

To get an even better idea of what Mosaiqq can do, watch the video below.

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