For those of us who weren’t lucky enough to make the trip to Amsterdam for this year’s ISE, Control4 just wrapped up an online press conference spotlighting several new upcoming innovations, including a new wired, panelized lighting system; KNX drivers; and — probably of most interest to HomeTechTell readers — a new wireless streaming audio bridge, as well as a free update that adds TuneIn support directly from the main Control4 interface.
The new Panelized Lighting Solution is probably going to appeal to those building huge new houses, or looking for a centralized lighting solution for retail locations or restaurants, or even smaller applications where aesthetics or building materials might preclude using a wireless light switch or dimmer on every wall. Of course, Control4 has long had support for third-party panelized lighting systems, but the real advantage here — in addition to support for virtually any type of lighting load in residential or commercial environments — is the fact that Control4’s own solution doesn’t require separate programming and tack-on integration with the Control4 system. It’s all programmed directly in Control4’s regular Composer software.
The company also debuted a handful of new wired keypads — in square and Decora configurations — and new drivers that support the KNX protocol so popular for home automation applications overseas at the moment.
The big news, for me at least, was the new Listen Experience introductions. In an effort to really beef up (and modernize) the music experience for Control4 users, the company is introducing its new Wireless Music Bridge, which you can think of as a sort of logical upgrade to Control4’s iPod dock, except that there’s no dock. And it’ll work with virtually any streaming audio device — from iPhones to Androids to computers, oh my! — thanks to the inclusion of AirPlay, Bluetooth, and DLNA streaming technology. Not only that, the Wireless Music Bridge will import metadata and cover artwork from whatever tunes or playlists you’re beaming from your hand into your sound system. That one should be available sometime in Q2 for $300 (US) or $345 (international).
The company also announced that the upcoming release of OS 2.4 will come complete with integrated TuneIn support, completely free of charge. I’ve been enjoying TuneIn via my Control4 system for a while now by way of Autonomic Controls’ MMS-2 Mirage Media Server, and can tell you that it’s one of the niftier music services out there at the moment. Not only do you get access to eleventy bajillion (rough estimate) internet radio stations, but tons of podcasts on demand, too. It’ll be nice to access it with one less button click now, not to mention the fact that the addition of direct TuneIn support definitely points to the possible integration of other streaming audio services (I’m looking at you, Spotify). The addition of TuneIn also removes the reliance that Control4 customers currently have on their dealers for keeping the every-changing URLs of their favorite internet radio stations updated.
Look for TuneIn to be added to Control4 systems — again, for free — along with whatever else the company cooks up for OS 2.4, on April 1. No foolin’.