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system providers, AMX, Crestron, Savant, Control4 are stable and reliable, with no idiosyncrasies and are not subject to uncontrolled firmware updates that can upset adversely the operation of a device.” Williams concurs: “Proving

reliable operation of an app for use across the vast number of operating system versions over iOS and Android devices incurs a massive overhead in testing. Users cannot be subject to unreliable software that may heat their home in summer or leave it unsecured.” “There are some

interesting iOS-based devices and applications that we could use in some of our installations,” adds Martin Noar, technical director of Marine Entertainment Systems. “We would need to have access to the control protocol, as used with the app, to incorporate them into our traditional control systems but that should be possible, given the co-operation of the manufacturer. However, despite claiming to be IP-enabled, several leading-

brand manufacturers do not make their IP protocol strings available for use with third-party controllers, forcing us to return to the primitive method of creating IR transmissions in order to control their devices, which is less convenient and robust.” Lighting giant Philips has embraced these new concepts with hue, its personal wireless lighting system that uses a hardware ‘bridge’ to link a smartphone app to colour-changing LED lightbulbs using the ZigBee protocol; allowing any colour hue and brightness to be set and recorded for later recall on up to 50 discrete lamps. The system has spawned

third-party apps that provide additional features, including preset mood scenes, sound to light converters for disco effects and seasonal colour schemes. Philips has also developed a smartphone control system for offices using Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) to connect office lighting to a building’s IT network and sensors that enables workers to adjust the lighting, heating and occupancy and temperature levels of rooms to be

The tado° heating app uses geolocation technology within mobile phones to ensure smart control

detected and sent back to facilities management.


Small start-up companies are injecting healthy new ideas into the market to accompany those from their larger colleagues and growing rapidly in the process, often through take-over or collaboration and partnership with larger companies.

Nest, subject to a well- publicised $3.2 billion purchase by Google, sells wireless intelligent room

thermostats and smoke alarms with learning capability and associated smart device apps to provide remote control of home heating. Along with British Gas-owned Hive, which supplies a similar heating controller to provide ‘active heating control’ they have teamed up with major energy suppliers to supply discounted product and help save consumers money on their energy bills. Kevin Morrison, managing

director and vice president of AMX Europe, suggests:

“While Google’s acquisition of Nest probably says more about their need for strong product design than anything else, it is indicative of their confidence in the ‘smart’ building and the large and growing demand for simple smart automation equipment. These application-led platforms give many users the control capability that they want, with an interface that they are comfortable with. They offer agility, flexibility and control, with minimal commitment; allowing users to make

May 2014 35

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