These days, most home automation companies are backing away from their own dedicated touchscreen remote controls in favor of custom programmed apps for tablets and smart phones. And those who are making dedicated touchscreens are often making them smaller and smaller–pretty much exactly the size of the iPad Mini.
A new story at HD Living explores how the iPad impacted the home automation market, and how the iPad Might have a similar effect.
Before the iPad, home touchscreens were generally only sold as part of much larger home automation systems. They were the remote control interfaces for advanced home theater, lighting, climate, and security control. And yes, they made it easy to see at a glance what was going on around the home, as well as activate sophisticated, complicated home control scenarios at the touch of a button, but at upwards of $1500 apiece, they were also a significant investment, especially when you consider that home control and monitoring (and maybe rudimentary web browsing) were all they could do.
The iPad changed all of that, putting touchscreens in the hands of a much larger audience, who naturally wanted to control their lights and security and home entertainment systems, too. It still required a custom installer to configure all of the additional hardware needed to truly tie the home’s electronic systems together—not to mention a lot of programming—but in the long run, it was cheaper for consumers, who now had a device that would not only open up a world of new potential in terms of home control, energy savings, convenience, and safety, but also play Angry Birds.
At first glance, it isn’t obvious how the iPad Mini plays into (or changes) this paradigm. But what you may not have noticed is that in the couple of years since the iPad launched, the few remaining companies who still manufacturer dedicated touchscreen remotes for home automation have changed their offerings quite a bit in response to Apple’s paradigm shifter. Touchscreens have gotten smaller, for one thing, and in fact, most new dedicated home automation touchscreens are of the seven-inch variety. So the size of the Mini certainly isn’t a surprise. It’s the perfect middle-ground between the smart phone and full-sized tablet: still small enough to be held one-handed, but large enough that you don’t have to squint to read the screen (or, especially in the case of home control apps, flip through multiple control screens to get to the page you want).