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AV Receivers

Smart homes with apps now "affordable"

Home owners can make their existing houses "smarter", more energy efficient and even run "apps" from just AU$1500, according to home automation company Control4.

Home owners can make their existing houses "smarter", more energy efficient and even run "apps" from just AU$1500, according to home automation company Control4.

control4 smart house
Home owners can install simple home automation systems for less than AU$1500 (Credit: Control4)

Home automation in the past was only available to customers who built multimillion-dollar houses, but according to Troy Holtby, Control4's international sales director, said that the company's aim was to make it more accessible.

"Where are we going with our product? Our goal is making it available to existing homes and affordable. Not Bill Gates affordable, it's 'us' affordable," he said

Control4 is a home automation product that integrates home functions such as "smart" lighting control, security, multi-room music and video, and remote access features.

The Control4 system runs from a central control unit using existing wired and wireless networking standards, and enables customers to do everything from open and shut their blinds to check if the fridge door is open from a single control pad or from anywhere in the world.

Adam Merlino of distributor Advance Audio Australia said simple systems that integrated home theatre and lighting control started at AU$1500.

"It's far better value than the other kits available: it's less than a third of what some of those other systems are," Merlino said.

Control4 was designed to be installed by a system integrator and while customers can't install the systems themselves, Holtby said this will "eke into a consumer-configurable system at some point in the future".

According to Holtby, Control4 was designed to be added to "like Lego" and was set-up to be simple to use with on-screen menus. It also has an iPhone app.

"We never want our automation system to get that stigma of programming the old VCRs. We want it to be intuitive," he said.

Holtby said he didn't see competition from manufacturers which have started supplying their own iPhone remote control apps.

"Will someone use a [manufacturer's] iPhone app to control their TV? Sure, but when they're ready to expand that's where our system comes in."

In addition to the iPhone app, customers can also run apps on their Control4 systems, and the 4Store has over 100 apps which includes Facebook and Twitter.

Control4 is becoming increasingly accepted by manufacturers, said Holtby, and that LG televisions and A/V receivers with integrated Control4 modules would hit the market "in the coming months".