LILIN, Control4 Integration Provides ‘Easy Access’ to CCTV for Homeowners
Exclusive Q&A with LILIN’s Jason Hill and Control4’s Paul Williams
|The LILIN Launch Party included demos of the Automation Experience Center (AEC), an overview of LILIN’s vision for the custom integration space by LILIN Group Vice President Jason Hill, and demos of LILIN’s camera line in the new LILIN Solutions Center (LSC) (shown). PHOTO COURTESY OF LILIN|
In 2013, LILIN, Arcadia, Calif., announced an integration with Control4®, Salt Lake City, Utah, a provider of personalized automation and control solutions, which meant home automation system users could benefit from direct control of LILIN IP products from the same software platform that controls other appliances in their home or business.
In March 2014, SDM was invited to the launch of LILIN’s Automation Experience Center (AEC), where visitors can experience full integration of LILIN IP security products with numerous home automation systems, such as Control4. The AEC allows visitors to see how to control LILIN security cameras and network video recorders from the same software platform that controls other appliances in their home or business. For a Facebook photo album of the event, click here.
LILIN Group Vice President Jason Hill, who presented at the launch, told SDM the company is committed to becoming the preferred manufacturer of HD cameras and recording systems to the global custom installation (CI) market.
The entire LILIN IP product range from megapixel cameras to network video recorders (NVRs) are on display in the showroom, including PTZ cameras, which allows users to move the camera, zoom and select presets all from the various home automation interfaces. As well as cameras, also on display in the showroom is the NVR Touch, which lets users view 16 channels of HD (1080P) IP video simultaneously at 25FPS via HDMI, all from the same platform that controls other appliances.
“The opening of our new showroom provides an invitation for visitors to come and see our latest security products working with a number of leading home automation solutions, including Control4, in real-life surroundings,” Hill said. “Our showroom makes it easy to see and actually experience the possibilities, and discover how well we have understood the requirements of the home automation market.”
At the launch, SDM had the chance to speak with Hill and Control 4’s Paul Williams, vice president of security and communications products / support services.
SDM:How does full integration between CCTV (LILIN) and home automation (Control4) change the game for today’s security installers / CI professionals?
Williams: The strategic partnership that Control4 and LILIN share allows us to work closely together to bring together best-in-class home automation technology with best-in-class camera solutions that enhance the customer’s smart home experience and truly deliver on the promise that other manufacturers are telling the story of, yet unable to fully deliver. Full integration of home automation and cameras allow dealers to feel confident as they approach customers, knowing that they will be able to provide a solution that will not only be easy to install, but will also delight their customers.
Full integration is enhanced by Simple Device Discovery Protocol (SDDP) code, a standard developed by Control4 that has been freely distributing to manufacturers, including LILIN, to allow their products to be more easily integrated into the Control4 solution. With SDDP there is a small piece of code that manufacturers place in their product’s firmware. When a product with SDDP is connected to a network that includes a Control4 system, the device is automatically identified and the specific device driver for that product is downloaded automatically for that device, making it simpler for a dealer to install. We have 60+ device manufacturers signed up for the program and now delivering products with SDDP. LILIN was among the first of these partners to sign up for SDDP and offer SDDP in their products.
Hill:When we started working with Control4 in 2013 we quickly realized that the integration of CCTV was limited to viewing live images. In order for the users to access recordings, they would need to go to the DVR itself and operate the machine directly — clearly not what the user was expecting from a truly integrated solution. So, we worked on deeply integrating our NVRs and DVRs so that they could be viewed and controlled from the same Control4 remotes, touch panels and user interfaces. For the dealer, we incorporated the SDDP code so that our products would be detected, and relevant driver selected, within the system design software. So now, CCTV and IP video integrate seamlessly with Control4 and the user has an intuitive and easy way to operate their system(s).
SDM: How would you describe the cross over between security and home automation? How does a partnership change how you can approach the space or meet changes?
Williams: Over the last couple of years we have seen a rapid increase in the convergence of security and automation. Much of this has come from service providers entering the market and offering security products with limited automation offerings and great mainline advertising, which has piqued the interest of consumers and introduced these customers to a taste of what an integrated automation and security solution could provide, yet these systems often fall short of what the consumer was expecting. The solutions that Control4 and partners like LILIN can offer actually deliver on the promise of what a full-featured, seamlessly integrated automation and security solution can provide. The partnership between Control4 and LILIN ensures that as technology in both automation and security continue to move forward, since we are experts in both fields, we will be able to deliver that improved technology in the solutions we provide and ensure that those technologies work together in a cohesive manner.
Hill: We know security is a very high priority for home owners but we have also recognized that they really value being able to access video easily – even when away from home – often for more personal reasons they may never elucidate. The smartphone has obviously been a big driver in connecting people to technology. In this scenario it works rather nicely.
The partnership with Control4 has been a valuable learning experience for LILIN. We were able to get a good understanding of their users’ and customers’ needs and ensure we delivered the right products and integrated them correctly. Approaching this market in the way we have historically dealt with the security channel may have resulted in a disappointing user experience.
SDM: What are your training goals in 2014? Why is training so important right now in the industry?
Hill:LILIN committed to training security professionals on networking with IP Bootcamp in 2013 and have now trained more than 2500 engineers around the world. This course helped the security engineer understand fundamental IP practices and principles with hands-on tuition and practical challenges.
In 2014 LILIN will deploy a new course; CI Bootcamp for the customer integrator, this will take some of the core components from IP Bootcamp but add training on CCTV principles and best practice to enable the custom integrators to design the correct solutions for analog and IP video systems. We felt we had a responsibility to take on training duties as it felt like many installers were falling behind in adopting new technology and we were well placed to deliver this in a non-commercial manner.
Williams:Training is an important part of Control4’s success and that of our dealers. Our dealers are required to receive certification through our Installer Certification Training Program before selling and installing Control4 systems. The installer training class is a four-day, live class taught in six training centers around the world. Those centers are located in Salt Lake City, Chicago, Charlotte, York (UK), Shanghai (China) and Bangalore (India).
In addition we have the Control4 Online University where dealers can stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and products, both from Control4 and our partners. The Online University gives dealers around the globe 24/7 access to the training they need to be successful.
What we have seen in this industry, is the dealers who have been well trained are more efficient, more profitable, have fewer issues on projects and happier customers, which is why it is essential that dealers in the industry ensure that they seek out and receive the training they need to be successful. What I have always said is that dealers can either invest in training up front or pay 2 times as much on the backend through lost efficiency, frustration and dissatisfied customers.