As for gesture control, Baydurcan says the company is currently “exploring gesture control on a proof-of-concept basis.” He further notes that “Crestron Labs has been testing a new technology by Microsoft that allows its Kinect technology to be supported on any Windows-based system, not just Xbox as in the past. Crestron control systems will read Kinect gestures like ‘raise or lower hands’ to dim/raise the lights in the room. With Crestron’s open platform, the possibilities of what you can control and how you can trigger the commands are endless.”
URC’s director of marketing, Cat Toomey, says that even though URC has developed gesture control for some of the world’s largest TV manufacturers, the company doesn’t feel it’s ready for prime time. “We do not yet view gesture control as being ready for more complex, fully integrated control applications. Custom installers need reliable solutions that work every time, and we will only deliver new technology to them when it is stable and reliable.” She adds, “We are extremely excited about voice control… but it’s still got a ways to go.”
Savant is the only control system manufacturer with a product built around Apple’s OS, so it wasn’t a surprise to find that it has voice control on the agenda. According to Jim Carroll, Savant’s general manager, “Savant is excited at the prospect of integrating Siri into our Apple-based control and automation environment. We can certainly imagine a wide array of uses and applications for the voice/gesture control of almost anything that is now activated by a traditional automation button, with home theater control, lighting scenes, and security activation being prime examples of future voice/gesture functionality.”
But even though Savant’s system uses Apple architecture, Carroll echoes the other companies’ wait-till-it’s-ready sentiments: “The positives to voice/gesture control in the home automation space are clearly adding convenience and efficiency for the user, with the only possible negative being the accuracy of voice control for all users as that technology evolves. Savant is committed to carefully integrating these innovations to the fullest before releasing them to the general public.”
While I think it will be a while before voice and gesture control replace a good old-fashioned remote by your side, it is encouraging to see the major manufacturers taking a cautious approach. This may mean a future filled with more easy-to- operate systems — and fewer charbroiled turkeys.
John Sciacca began his career as a custom installer in 1998 at Custom Theater and Audio in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, where he still works. He's still trying to figure out how to get the members of his family to turn the lights off when they're actually in the house, let alone from hundreds of miles away.
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