Control4, DISH Networks Unveil New Home Automation Solution


Control4 and DISH Networks announced a new entry into the home automation market a couple of months ago at the CEDIA (Custom electronic Design & Installation Association) Expo. The two companies plan to integrate products and technologies they offer with DISH’s Hopper. The official announcement states that this integration will benefit both installers (like me) and consumers (like you). Let us take a little stroll and discuss what the companies are planning on bringing to market in the near future.

Better Integration for Control4 Home Automation Systems

In the technology world, if you want your software or hardware product to be compatible with and supported by a wider variety of applications and products, you have to allow those making ¬†other products to “take a peek under the hood” so to speak. Without doing this, consumers may be able to use other products on top of or next to yours, but neither product will be properly optimized. To this end, DISH Networks gave a few select companies, including Control4, access to what’s called the “Application Programming Interface” (or API) for their Hopper product.

What this access has allowed is for DISH’s Hopper to implement the protocol by which the Control4 system is able to discover and recognize new devices. This protocol is called the Simple Device Discovery Protocol (SDDP) and is somewhat similar to your Wi-Fi router sending out the network name so wireless devices can find it. It’s basically the device grabbing a bullhorn and saying, “Here I am! Over here!” and repeating it over and over until the new device is able to find it.

Imagine having to remember the name of your Wi-Fi network or, even worse, one of the two addresses for your router. SDDP allows you (or me) to install a new device for the home automation system and easily connect it to the home automation network.

What This New Teamwork Means to You

You’re not going to discover the next subatomic particle because of this offering. It’s not even going to let you watch and record unlimited programming all at one time. What it will do is similar to what Control4 offers. However, it will allow the installer to fully integrate these capabilities into your DISH system and put them at your fingertips no matter where you are.

They have, in the past few months, branched out from really not much more than a central control piece for your home lighting, into a true, full-fledged home automation solution, putting control of most electronics in your home into a central location. Adding the integration with the Hopper allows you to control anything connected to the system from anywhere that you have Internet access.

What’s This “Central Location”?

Both DISH and Control4 have controllers. You already know about your DISH remote; the remote for the home automation system is a stylish touchscreen pad/tablet that can be mounted to a wall, left on a table, or carried from room to room. With this integration, anything you can do with your DISH remote will be able to be carried out using the control pad. You can also access the Hopper using the mobile app for the home automation system.

Some Specifics on What Can Be Done

Imagine this: You’re sitting in the living room late at night watching TV with your spouse and you hear the kids playing. Do you stomp down the hall and yell at them to be quiet and turn off the TV? No way! Not anymore. You grab your Control4 control pad or your mobile device and bring up the app. Press a couple of buttons and Voila! You’ve just realized the kids have their TV and lights on still. Not wanting to miss a second of what you’re watching, you press a couple more buttons and turn off the TV and the lights, letting the kids know that YOU know what they’re up to.

Wait, maybe it isn’t their bedtime yet, so they are allowed to be watching TV, but they’re not allowed to watch certain shows or networks. Do you walk down to their room and peek in to see what they’re watching? No. You bring up what they’re watching either on the control pad or in the app. If it isn’t something of which you approve either turn off the TV or change the channel for them.

You can also program the Control4 system to close your curtains and dim the lights when you queue up a movie to watch. However, you’ll still have to get up to go pop the popcorn. For now. Stay tuned here. I’ll let you know when that changes.

Photo Credit: PremiereHomeCinema