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Home-Control Systems Tighten Ties To PCs, Web

New products unveiled during the CEDIA Expo by Crestron, Elan, and Home Systems Plus integrated PCs and the Web more tightly with home-control systems.

Crestron unveiled its CrestronHome home-control system, its first residential system with IP-addressability and built-in Web server to enable remote access from any Web-browser-equipped PC.

The home-control system doesn’t have to be connected to a household PC to deliver remote access, but it must be connected to a dial-up modem, DSL modem or cable modem.

The capability could be used by consumers to remotely access their home’s security cameras, sales and marketing VP Randy Klein noted.

To remotely access previous Crestron residential systems, users had to connect their systems to a home PC and install off-the-shelf client-server software such as PC Anywhere. That limited remote access to remote PCs on which the software had been installed.

CrestronHome will integrate even more tightly with the Internet when the company makes the system compatible with the file formats of select Web content providers, Klein said.

The company is talking with content providers such as Yahoo to ensure CrestronHome delivers text-only data from these services to connected touchscreens, he said.

The content could be pushed to a CrestronHome system if a DSL or cable modem is installed, or the system will call up the services via a dial-up modem to retrieve content. The system won’t have to be connected to a PC to access the content.

In diversifying into home-control systems, Elan demonstrated a color LCD 320 x 240 pixel touchpanel that will remotely control and display any PC program, including Web browser, residing on a connected PC.

PC access might not be available, however, in the first production runs of the touchpanel, which is due in mid-2000, said president Bob Farinelli.

The touchpanel will emulate mouse-clicks and display a virtual keyboard to enter data. The $1,499 touchpanel, which will also display video from connected TVs and security cameras, can be programmed to control IR-controlled products and two RS-232-equipped components.

For its part, Home Systems Plus introduced a $100 software package that lets users access their home network from a remote PC.

The software gives users three connection choices: a direct-dial connection using a client-server application similar to PC Anywhere; a direct-dial connection using a remote PC’s dial-up networking function and its Web browser; and an Internet connection using a remote PC’s Web browser. In the latter case, the home network needs a fixed IP address available only when connected to a cable or DSL modem.