Among home automation systems, Embedded Automation’s mControl gained early widespread acceptance. Although the company reportedly has discontinued some support functions recently, its technologies continue to hold appeal for many consumers.
Founded in 1998, the software development company Embedded Automation designed and developed a number of breakthrough technologies intended to help create a completely digital home. The firm operated as a division of the mHome product group of companies. It marketed its innovative line of products through an mHome Authorized Dealer Network in the United States for several years.
In 2008, the company released a Digital Home Portal, a thin, wall-mounted touchscreen unified control panel designed as a console for interfacing various processes controlled within a digital home. The firm promoted its technologies at the March, 2008 Electronic House Expo in Orlando, Florida.
mControl v3 Automation Software
In 2011, the company co-founder and President, J. B. Golee, and the firm’s Business Development Manager, Ted S. Singh, introduced the latest Version 3 of the mControl home automation software. Homeowners with older systems could easily upgrade to the newer version. The new product evidently received a warm reception in the marketplace, earning high praise from some customers for its intuitive interface and compatibility with numerous household devices.
However, in 2013 Embedded Technologies reportedly discontinued its user forum, to the dismay of some customers. The firm remains listed on LinkedIn as a computer software company with between one and ten employees. However, it apparently does not maintain an easily accessed website or contact information. The most recent company URL is: http://www.embeddedautomation.com/products/mcontrol.asp. The sales network of local dealerships likely provide the most direct resource for customers to obtain information and updates about Embedded Automation’s products lines.
Today, many upscale homes around the USA may still utilize this technology. The sleek, attractively designed wall portal worked with the company’s initial mControl home automation system, and presumably with more recent versions of the software, also.
Some features of this home automation software might conceivably work in some cases without the installation of a home portal screen, however, since customers today can access the software conveniently and remotely through a browser. Considerable variation potentially exists in individual home system configurations.
People who have used mControl v3 Home Automation Software consistently praise this product for several robust features. Some of the advantages it offers include:
- An attractive, intuitive interface;
- Both touchscreen and voice controlled operation;
- Enables a high level of customization;
- Compatible with most major desktop and smart phone browsers;
- Easy remote access;
- Works well with numerous home devices;
- Includes several very functional utilities;
- Designed for total home automation.
How might a homeowner utilize this automation software? The mControl v3 Home Automation technology allows a customer to streamline and synchronize a wide array of home products and systems. For instance, residents can coordinate the operation of lights, electrical devices, a home thermostat, the HVAC system, a security surveillance system, and many different apps on a smart phone or computer.
For instance, a customer might program the mControl v3 system to automatically turn on lights in the kitchen at a designated hour, lower the thermostat in the home 45 minutes later and allow the homeowner to view the exterior of the premises in real time from a smart phone. Utilities contained in the software enable homeowners to capture significant information about the status of home systems and analyze this data to enhance efficiencies of operation.
A Very Useful Utility
The mControl v3 Home Automation System furnishes customers with a very useful programming utility, the mControl Editor. This features operates as an administration interface, enabling operators to use a browser for programming purposes.
Terry Walsh in the 2008 article “mControl for Windows Home Server- Automate Your Home” explained that the mControl Editor assists owners in configuring and controlling a variety of home devices through a standard browser interface. Potentially, a customer might synchronize devices directly through a Windows Home Server, or via several other popular platforms, including an Xbox 360. This feature enables customers to use the home automation system provided by mControl in a tailored, custom-designed manner to streamline specific systems of interest.
An Information Gathering Utility
Embedded Automation reportedly designed a mChronicle utility that enables homeowners using the mControl v3 Home Automation System to record data about the operation of the system. By gathering and analyzing this information, they can track the efficiency of energy usage, for instance.
At least one online article suggests that this information interfaces with cloud technology, allowing database storage of the data. This process would enable very sophisticated data analysis and manipulation by third parties, potentially.
Many Supported Control Systems
The mControl v3 Home Automation System interfaced very well at the time of its release in 2011 with some major “smart home” control technologies. It provided a very useful platform for regulating and synchronizing HVAC and temperature control features in the home, and also for interfacing with home security system cameras, for instance. An online article contends the system allows customers to obtain streams of data in real time from IP cameras in MJPG and H.264 formats.
Reportedly this software works well with components using Z-Wave, Insteon, UPB, X10 and KNX. Customers enjoy the power to use the system to synchronize the activities of a wide variety of other electronic devices as a result. At the time of its release, it worked compatibly with software from iTunes and Windows Media Center.
Support For Mobile And Wireless Technologies
The mControl v3 Home Automation System offers several enhancements that earlier versions of the software lacked. For instance, it supports wireless technologies furnished by the mBee line of ZigBee wireless products. The product also includes an upgraded mobile interface to assist smart phone users in accessing features seamlessly as of 2011.
The supported operating systems at the time of the release of Version 3 included a number of very popular mobile systems, including:
- Windows Phone.
This feature means that a customer could consult this home automation system remotely while traveling, obtaining useful information about the status of residential environmental systems and energy use patterns.
Scalability And Ease of Use
One of the nicest aspects of this system relates to ease of scalability. For instance, a customer might automate home devices relating to a home theater system as an initial step, then gradually expand the system to include other devices within the residence, and other sections of the home.
As more companies develop Internet-connected “smart” devices, the ability to interface a variety of technologies assumes increasing importance in home automation systems.
Obtaining accurate uniform current price information proves difficult in light of the company’s distributed sales network through the mHome Authorized Dealer Network. Conceivably, some sales centers in the past might have charged variable prices for the software, depending on the software company’s price policies in effect at the time.
Some online reviews indicate that installation costs do vary by dealer, although apparently many customers also perform self-installation due to the ease of using the interface. Other sources indicate prices for an mControl v3 Home Automation System exceed a base price of $2,000 and include an ongoing $129.99 per month charge for support services.
The mControl v3 Home Automation System enables users to configure and control the automation process from a browser on a PC, a Mac or a mobile smart phone conveniently. Both the ease of use and the scalability offer convenience for programming and data analysis purposes, but perhaps also potentially raises concerns about security issues, malware and hacking problems. The ability of customers to remain in touch with support services through the company’s dealerships might prove very significant in that respect.