Audio Interfaces: Moving Beyond Knobs and Dials

Whether one is an occasional listener—only listening while cooking or cleaning, or a true audiophile with all the latest tunes and playlists for every mood and occasion—there is something for everyone when music is incorporated into the home as intrinsically as possible. Integrating audio into a smart home takes listening enjoyment to the next level—making the experience even more profound.

There are many great elements of a smart home—the all-in-one functionality, the ease of use, the incorporation of a series of actions into “scenes,” and the ability to check in on your home while away, to name just a few. But arguably one of the most enticing features of a smart home is whole-home audio. When audio is incorporated with smart home automation, the homeowner gets more choices in personalisation and customisable options—all designed to give the homeowner the perfect audio entertainment experience that is convenient, easy to use, and intuitive.

The homeowner can play jazz in the kitchen, classical music in the den, and rock in the kid’s rooms—all at the same time and through the same system. Gone are the days of separate systems in every room. No more boom boxes in the kid’s rooms, tabletop in the master bedroom, under-the-counter option in the kitchen—the clean, streamlined smart home audio system eliminates the clutter and lets the focus be where it should be—on enjoying the music. And with built in overhead speakers, one can travel room to room without missing a single beat.

Just like other elements of smart home technology, the choice of interface is not only the goal, but also the expectation. Offering clients a multitude of convenient ways to interact with their music will ensure a more enjoyable listening experience.

Personalised Keypad
Take a Control4 engraved keypad, for example. Sure, it controls the lights like any normal dimmer or switch would, but it can also fire up the tunes. At the press of an engraved “Pandora” button, a favorite playlist begins in the living room. Press “Napster” and a streaming radio station starts on the patio. All of a homeowner’s favorite content is at their fingertips. They can even adjust the volume up or down, or double-tap to skip a song—all from the same keypad. Better yet, everyone in the family can enjoy their own music in their respective spaces with keypads that are customised for the particular user.

Dedicated Touch Screens 
In-wall or tabletop touch screens are elegant and design-friendly interfaces. With high-resolution graphical interfaces, cover art to highlight your music selections, they provide an easy way to scroll through your music library and control your audio selections.

Smartphone or Tablet
The convenience of the smartphone or tablet are obvious. Homeowners are already using their devices for everything from banking to online shopping and adding this interface to a smart home provides a great mobile solution, allowing audio control from anywhere inside the house or even outside, to provide music for a backyard party or barbecue.

Voice Control
An enticing feature of smart home automation is its continual advancement and the introduction of new and exciting features and interfaces. The recent launch of voice control has added another exciting dimension of home control—perhaps the most intuitive control yet.

With the Control4 Smart Home Skill for Amazon Alexa, for example, Control4 homeowners have an easy out-of-the-box set up that allows them immediate voice control of their thermostats, lights, and pre-set lighting scenes. For dealers, this provides an additional opportunity to provide added enhancements to customers. Once they get a taste of just how easy it is to simply speak their commands, they’re certain to want additional scenes created, and more features added to their audio/video automation.

Just like other elements of smart home technology, the choice of interface is not only the goal, but also the expectation.

With the help of their dealer, homeowners can customise voice control to fit their own individual lifestyles and preferences. The entertainer can create dinner party playlists, the teen can have the latest pop music hits, and so on. And when added to scenes, the entire experience is personalised. Just imagine showing a customer how the simple “Alexa, turn on Romance” command can dim the lights, turn on romantic music, and lower the blinds, or “Alexa, turn on Cooking” turns the kitchen lights on to 100 percent, turns on their favorite cooking music, and lowers the temperature a couple degrees. Whatever can be imagined, can be programmed—the options and scenarios are limitless.

Nothing is more personal than audio preferences and providing clients with the choices and options to enjoy their music is the key to their long-term satisfaction and to the dealer’s long-term success.

Maryann Martindale is Marketing Communications Manager for Control4.

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