The Benefits of Control4: Conversations With Smart Home Experts

Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) is the largest AV and systems integration show in the world, and the IndigoZest team were delighted to attend recently. ISE 2020 took place at the RAI Amsterdam for its final year this February. After 15 successful years, the show has outgrown itself and will move to its new home in Barcelona from 2021. The event is a grand display of manufacturers showing the latest and greatest in technology for the residential, commercial, retail, and hospitality markets. 

The show was hosted by CEDIA® with this year’s Design and Build conference targeted at architects, interior designers and other design & build professionals in the residential space.

IndigoZest attended the event to meet manufacturers and learn about upcoming products and future releases. We very much enjoyed sharing our expertise and learning from others throughout the event, and we were invited to attend and speak at the Design and Build conference. We also participated in a podcast with Charlie Kindel from SnapAV and Control4, who discussed trends and challenges in the UK smart home market, and we reviewed what the last year has been like for us as a Control4 dealer. We were then invited to meet with Charlie Kindel, Bryce Judd and Brad Hintze of Control4 and SnapAV to discuss future innovations, market presence and the role of the UK systems integrator.

We asked these experts some questions about the future of smart home technology, and we’re excited to share with you what we have learnt!

IndigoZest at ISE 2020

What is the future of smart home technology? What will we see more of, and are there any areas that have the potential to be further developed?

Brad Hintze of Control4 talked to us about the five levels of smart home, which outline how far smart home technology has come and gave an indication of where it’s heading:

Level 1 is the traditional home where everything runs by itself – for example, heating and cooling run separately, we have manual shades, and we tend to “set and forget” various aspects of our home.

Level 2 sees the introduction of piecemeal accessories such as the Nest thermostat and Amazon Echo. These devices offer great value as standalone products. This kind of setup means you are now able to turn your heating on from your mobile phone, but the heating system still uses a thermostat.

These devices are sold as DIY products but can be complicated to set up. In many cases they become redundant after a certain amount of time, and the technology is deemed useless.

Level 3 is when 1-25 connected devices are set up within the home and they can talk to each other. You may use voice commands to ask Amazon Alexa to turn off the lights, or create scenes such as a “goodnight” scene. This is the “Internet of Things” (IoT).

But when you have 25 devices in your home like this, you start putting pressure on your home in a new way. The 25 smart devices now come with 25 manuals on how to reset each one, depending on the individual firmware of each product. How much time, patience or knowledge do you have to maintain these different systems? When you have a lot of devices connected to your home, it now requires a network. Our basic needs in the house according to Maslow Hierarchical Law used to be shelter and physiological needs, but these seem to have been superseded by WiFi. This is doubly true when you have so many appliances within your home relying on WiFi to talk to each other. 

Level 4 smart homes have between 40-1,000 devices, and this setup is facilitated by a built-in smart home design. The system needs to be fully integrated into the home and It must work for the whole family.

Connecting all the subsystems to create a whole home automation requires a smart home operating system to pull the pieces together and make them work seamlessly within a solid infrastructure. It provides homeowners and families with a wide range of product options for enhancing their homes, and makes it easy to control devices such as lights and televisions to set the perfect mood. A networked infrastructure is also designed to protect the privacy of the home. If you’re considering building your own smart home, you need to ask questions such as “Where does this fit into my life?”, “What do I really want?”, and “How can this technology best serve my home and my family?”

For this type of setup, an operating system is designed to be installed, commissioned and protected by a professional but solely used by the homeowner. While owners of IoT devices (in Level 3) will have many devices all collecting data to build personal profiles separately, the operating system in Level 4 brings everything together so the smart home system works as a whole.

Level 4 smart homes are our bread and butter. IndigoZest has the expert knowledge needed to design, install and support your home now and the future. 

Level 5 smart homes feature ambient and invisible technology, and this is where smart homes are headed. The technology within the home is “just there” and it works with us and for us with minimal input or thought from the homeowner during everyday life. The industry hasn’t quite mastered this yet but when we do the technology will simply run in the background. The home will understand human intent and proactively protect the home from prying eyes and intruders.

What new products or technologies are Control4 working on? What can people expect from Control4 in the future? 

Control4 and SnapAV have merged, and this merger will introduce a whole host of new and refined products. With over 4,000 products between them, these companies are currently reviewing their offering and want to ensure they are able to create products that offer the customer choice as well as seamless integration within their smart homes.

One of their latest products on display at the ISE event was their range of Signature speakers. Not only does the line offer a range of installation options, accessories and aesthetics, but the speakers are super easy to install and offer the possibility to prepare your home for them now and install later – with no additional building work required. Find out more in the video below:

What sets Control4 apart from other smart home control solutions?

First and foremost, it is the people and the company that sets Control4 apart. For IndigoZest, it is important that we work as partners with Control4 so that we are able to give feedback to them on what customers want, what works, and what doesn’t work. They are ready to listen and ready to invest in always being better.

We choose Control4 because we want our clients to have a solution that just works. It needs to be robust, have longevity, be versatile and be open to third-party products. There is no doubt that Control4 understands technology but what they consistently strive for is ease of use. As the levels of smart homes have evolved, so have Control4, and they continue to improve by building new hardware and software. As an example of this, the release of their new operating system, OS3, will ensure that their smart home technology all works in the right room at the right time.

It is important to understand the need to have a professionally installed infrastructure. Hintze described this as similar to the operating system that runs on our mobile phone. We have sensors, antennas and connections to the internet, but the operating system removes the complexity of those individual things to make it run smoothly.

For example, if you want to use the Uber rideshare app, the operating system removes various elements from sight, including the GPS tracking to them and to you, payment systems, communication and so on, so that all you have to do is book a car. In the same way, this is how you should expect your home to run.

It is also imperative to know that the solution is personalised by those who live there. If a homeowner wants to make a change to their home, they should not need to call their smart home provider every time. An operating system gives them the ability to make changes easily. IndigoZest has the tools to install, configure, support and service the smart home system, but the family are the only ones to know what their home looks and feels like and what changes they would like to make. That’s why control is so important for you as the homeowner, in order for you to be able to get the best out of your smart home.

What advice would you give someone thinking about creating their own smart home?

Control4 and IndigoZest agree that the best thing you can do is talk to a professional. Your home is a big investment and you want it to “just work” so that you can focus on what matters to you and your family. Ask yourself if you want to be your home IT support person – do you have the time, knowledge or inclination? If the answer is no, you will greatly benefit from the support of smart home experts who can offer advice, help you design your smart home, install the technology you need, and monitor and maintain your home network. That’s where IndigoZest comes in.

At IndigoZest, we make it our business to offer solutions that work, integrate well and offer you ongoing support. We work with great companies such as Control4 and SnapAV to provide smart home technology that’s perfect for your family’s needs. Contact us online to book an appointment at one of our showrooms, or call 01923 883979 to discuss your vision for your new smart home.