Crestron has been at the vanguard of home automation for many years as installers have readily adopted its integrated AV, lighting, security and heating control systems. It’s premium, hard-wired stuff that has remained the preserve of customers with deep pockets, happy to fork out for a professional installer. Now Crestron is aiming for a wider market in the shape of Pyng, a more affordable, wireless-based control system consisting of a control hub that can operate up to 200 devices.
Wirelessly controlled components still require power and someone capable of installing them, plus the initial setup must be done by a pro. But once installed Pyng can be easily operated and, more importantly, reconfigured using iPhone and iPad apps (with an Android version in the works) so that the end user can create countless scenes for different activities, such as dining, chatting, watching TV, sleeping and going on holiday. On sale in the US since late last year, Pyng is now available in the UK, and it can be seen in action at Crestron’s showroom in the swanky Chelsea Design Centre. For a more in-depth look HCC, travelled to Crestron’s Customer Experience Centre at its headquarters in New Jersey.
The Pyng app is free while the hub itself costs £570, but any initial investment would certainly exceed £1,000 once customers have selected components such as a dimmer or two, a thermostat and an on-wall keypad (essential backup for those times when the iPad goes AWOL or runs out of juice). Crestron manufactures its own wireless lights, thermostats and shades, the latter of which come in a range of appealing fabrics and have impressively quiet motors.
Particularly impressive is the way that as soon as any changes are made they get implemented automatically, with no requirement to store or save. However, such an immediate response has its pitfalls, and Simmons tells us there is a danger in allowing users to alter the settings: ‘People can’t resist pressing buttons just for the sake of it and we know that customers can screw up their settings,’ he admitted. ‘They may well blame the cat.’ As a safety net Crestron keeps a saved version of the installer’s settings in the cloud, which can be reinstalled remotely.
Legacy Crestron systems can be easily adapted to work with Pyng, so is there a danger of Crestron cannibalising its own customer base by offering a more aff ordable alternative to a fully-serviced system? No so, says Simmons, arguing that dealer costs are much lower too and dealers should see this as an opportunity to chase new customers.