Actiontec Electronics announced its new zControl(tm) series of home automation gateways, designed to centrally manage household electronics such as lights, security cameras, thermostats, motion detectors, garage door openers, motorized shades and automatic sprinklers through the home network. zControl will allow users to control all devices through a common interface at home as well as remotely by PC, mobile phone or Internet-enabled TV, making it possible to turn lights on and off or water your lawn even from hundreds of miles away.
Actiontec’s zControl was named a CES Innovations 2008 Awards Honoree as one of the most innovative products in the home networking category. The CES program has become recognized as the hallmark event for showcasing best-of-breed product design and engineering.
The first generation of the zControl product, scheduled to ship next month, will be a standalone unit that connects to the home router and can be accessed by PC or cellphone. Additional versions available later in Q1 will be integrated into Actiontec’s wireless routers and DSL gateways for sale through service providers. A companion set-top box to be released mid-year will add a media center with a TV interface, offering new conveniences such as the ability to display digital photo albums and view home security camera images on your TV screen. The TV interface will offer other innovations and be the first of its kind in the industry.
“zControl will change the way people manage their household electronics. The home network will no longer be limited to computers, printers and gaming consoles but instead encompass smart home products of all kinds,” said Brian Henrichs, Actiontec VP of Business Development. “Integrating this functionality into the home’s broadband connectivity equipment will also eliminate an extra box and supply broadband providers with a cost-effective means of delivering new value-added services to subscribers.”
Control At Home or Away
zControl supports virtually any number of devices equipped with Z-Wave(tm) technology, the wireless home control standard developed to unify home electronics into an integrated wireless network for easy management. Z-Wave is now available as a built-in component or add-on to hundreds of household products ranging from lighting and appliances to heating/air conditioning, home security and home entertainment systems.
With zControl, consumers can define settings for light, heat and other household electronics that can be automatically triggered or manually activated by PC or mobile phone at specific times or for various scenarios. One setting might turn on the hallway light, heat and lawn sprinklers after work. Others might raise the shades in the morning, light the house to set the scene for a romantic dinner, switch lights on and off during the day while you’re on vacation, or let you turn on specific house lights from your phone when you’re sitting in the driveway late at night.
zControl also makes it possible to check on your teenagers, turn on a light in the family room and close the garage door with a few clicks even when you’re out of town; capture and store any activity recorded by your digital security cameras for a certain period of time; turn devices on and off with a remote control as well as by PC or phone; receive email, IM or smartphone alerts when security alarms are triggered or in other situations; and much more.
The interface can be accessed from any Internet-enabled PC anywhere in the world or from most mobile phones with a special service package available from Actiontec. The on-screen display automatically adjusts to fit disparate use cases. For example, a user accessing the system from a PC at work will see a dashboard of all home resources, while a user sitting in front of the TV with the zControl remote control may see a completely different view.
zControl setup is automated with a unique discovery button on the front of the unit. Simply press that button and the corresponding button on the Z-Wave device, and the device is automatically added to the home network. The zControl editions that will be integrated with Actiontec routers and gateways will also offer this same button-based setup for WiFi and HomePlug devices, overcoming the barriers that continue to plague consumers who attempt to add products such as wireless-enabled printers to their home networks.
zControl is the only product in its class with this automated discovery capability, eliminating the need to perform a two-step discovery process using a remote control or enter router IP addresses, SSIDs or other identifiers. It is also the only home automation controller that can use both PCs and Macs for scene setup and other functions.
Smart Home Management for Service Providers
The zControl-enabled Actiontec wireless gateways and routers will help generate new revenue streams for service providers by enabling them to offer home automation control as a value-added service. Carriers can create new service packages allowing them to get involved in smart home management for the first time, opening new opportunities for attracting and retaining subscribers as well as redefining their business model to help address the challenge of eroding profits.
The integration of zControl functionality into consumer premises equipment will simplify deployment of the new services, while built-in TR-069 remote management capabilities will streamline troubleshooting.
Pricing and Availability
The standalone Actiontec zControl Starter Kit will be available next month at an MSRP of $399 including the zControl unit, one indoor camera with motion detector, one lighting control module, and a remote control. zControl-enabled wireless gateways and routers will be released in March.
About Actiontec Electronics, Inc.
Actiontec Electronics develops products and services enabling consumers to leverage broadband Internet connectivity to simplify and enrich their lives. Actiontec’s products include the market’s broadest selection of IPTV-capable broadband gateways as well as broadband modems, routers, wireless networking devices, VoIP adapters, and digital entertainment devices, sold through retail channels and broadband service providers. Founded in 1993, Actiontec is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, and maintains branch offices in Austin, TX; Colorado Springs, CO; Denver, CO; Basingstoke, United Kingdom; Shanghai, China; and Taipei, Taiwan. For more information, call 408-752-7700.
Actiontec and zControl are registered trademarks or trademarks of Actiontec Electronics, Inc.