By Roger Wicks, Rocfusion.
As an independent business, I was searching for something new that would primarily control KNX but also have the ability to control AV devices including Sonos, cameras and intercom. It needed to be flexible, have a user-friendly interface, configuration and setup should be straightforward, but first and foremost, it had to be stable. At the time we were using ayControl in combination with a Gira HomeServer, and before that, we had used Quiiq and Exdomus (now Hager).
ayControl by easyMOBIZ.com is good – it’s stable and very easy to setup. It works very well for small KNX homes, but it isn’t really flexible as you are very limited with the GUI layout. Every installation looks the same. Should a customer ask for something different which is unique to their home, that is not possible. When you implement ayControl in a larger home, the user interface is harder to navigate. To get to light/shade controls for a specific location, you have to scroll through a list of floors and rooms on the left side of your control screen.
For example, let’s take a larger home with two or three floors, plus an outside area with two garages and swimming pool. Each floor has at least ten rooms. As a homeowner, you could be endlessly scrolling through the list just to find that one light want to turn on. When you have guests staying at your home there is quite learning curve required to get to know where which each light is located.
Because everything is described with text only, in most cases a new user (your guest) will first try to turn everything on and off just to see which light turns on via each button. It can be difficult for a child to operate since text is harder to grasp than pictures, or a more mature person will find the text too small to read and some people may find the buttons difficult to use.
ayControl implementation for audio/video devices is very limited. You can control IR devices and there is support for Squeezebox, but that’s about it. This makes it more difficult to offer a complete home automation AV solution to potential clients. There is camera and intercom support, but the layout is fixed, although easyMOBIZ.com has started to improve upon some of ayControl’s shortcomings with the release of version 3.
Whilst looking at what was available on the market, I found Command Fusion, House in Hand, iKNX, Bitwise, Open Remote, and KNX Server. Each of them has its pros and cons, but none completely matched my requirements. They were either very similar to ayControl or their implementation of KNX control was impractical, for example, not all KNX data types were supported, or group addresses had to be entered in as HEX addresses. In short, none of the solutions was what I was really looking for.
At that time I had been watching the progress of another solution for about a year, namely iRidium 2.0 from iRidium Mobile company. I saw that it was on the verge of major product release with a range of features that were very impressive. I decided to put it to the test.
The layout is open and you can decide how to structure the navigation for your projects. You can work with templates and use existing designs or you can create your own design. I like the fact that I can create my own design. I have total control of what is displayed and when it’s displayed. In addition, the designs that you create can be used as templates for future projects.
Control of KNX is straightforward – import of ETS 3 and 4 projects works. The imported group addresses are represented as KNX device commands in your project. Then you drag these commands onto the graphic items (buttons and sliders) to allow control of lights and shades.
Because of the open relationship between KNX device commands and the graphic items, you are not limited to one way of control. For example, a dimmer can be controlled with a slider, percentage buttons or using dimming control (dim up and dim down buttons). You have the freedom to choose which way you want to control your KNX modules.
Controlling AV Devices
Another key benefit is the ability to control AV devices. iRidium can control numerous AV devices via IP (HTTP, TCP, UDP, UPNP) out of the box. There is support for media-based devices such as Sonos and XBMC. Plus there is support for the Global Caché product range which adds IR and serial devices. The iRidium GUI Editor has the Global Caché cloud database built in, which provides access to over 100,000 IR codes.
The same flexibility that is provided with associating KNX group address to the graphic items of the user interface is also available for AV devices. When you use iRidium Script, it is also possible to create your own devices, which means that you can integrate any AV device with iRidium. If there is an existing driver available for a particular AV device, it is possible to add new functionality to the driver using iRidium Script.
iRidium Mobile has developed a complete control solution which allows you to control an extensive range of devices from either iOS or Android phones and tablets. With iRidium you can create a control interface which can be unique to your company identity or to the style of your customer. Added to this, there is a team of knowledgeable and highly-motivated people at iRidium Mobile which is always available to help you out. this is the best solution I have found so far.
Roger Wicks is a technical consultant, expert in KNX and AV installations and a programmer at Rocfusion bvba. Rocfusion specialises in providing automation consultancy and programming services based on KNX and iRidium Mobile.