Better navigation options, hospitality functions, and a new "password session" are all big features of this update to Crestron's terrific residential automation platform
May 22, 2023 - The most recent update to the Crestron Home® OS — version 3.20 — is the perfect example of a series of small user experience refinements that add up to a much better platform when taken together.
And it's primarily based on dealer feedback, according to Jason Oster, Crestron's director of product management for residential solutions: "This update is a great expression of 'Yep, Mr. or Ms. Dealer — we've heard what you and your clients want — here are those improvements."
New Navigation Bar Customization Options
A major advancement comes in a new customization option for the Crestron Home OS app navigation bar. "Previously, the options one had across the bottom of the screen would be 'Home,' 'Rooms,' and 'More,'" Oster explains. Now the dealer or end user can customize that nav bar for a particular room in the home. Any of those Home/Rooms/More selections can be hidden, given the specific room type that the control interface is addressing.
"For example: If it's a single room solution or something like a guest room where you don't want a visitor to have access to other rooms, you can make that inaccessible from a particular touch screen," says Oster. "That's also terrific for hotel settings where the Crestron Home OS is used for guest rooms and suites. Take a hotel suite where you only need to see the bedroom and bathroom — you can simply remove access to every other part of the system, locking the screen to control only those spaces. It makes for a really intuitive solution."
Support for a New Crestron 8K Smart Display Controller
This update also includes support for the brand-new HD-CTL-101, an 8K Smart Display Controller with HDMI® connectivity that provides options for controlling a broad range of devices. "This is ideal for a variety of residential control applications," says Oster. This I/O control device, released in early May, offers control of TVs and content sources such as cable boxes, Amazon Fire® TV Sticks, Apple TV® media devices, and more.
The HD-CTL-101 can be configured to automatically power displays on and off based on schedule, occupancy, or video sync detection. "Other great use cases for this solution include utilizing the Crestron Home OS for anything that requires additional I/O. For example, if you need an extra IR port, digital input, CEC control, or relays, this device is perfect for tucking behind a TV or projector to give you more control options — a perfect pairing with something like the PC4-R control processor," Oster adds. Other features include a built-in web interface for easy configuration and EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) to ensure that every source is displayed at the optimal resolution and format.
Hospitality and MDU Improvements; Password Sessions, Too
"Even though the platform is technically the Crestron Home OS, we're adding some features that can help integrators and end-users in the hospitality segment," says Oster, noting further that many of those features are also applicable for multiple-dwelling unit deployments. Chief among them: A series of icons built for those spaces. Oster has examples: "A package icon — your package is ready for pickup at the front desk. There's a valet service icon that can call for the parking attendant or order an Uber with one touch." Oster says third-party driver developers can update or write new Crestron Home OS Extension drivers to include those icons.
There's another feature in this update that improves the platform's convenience: the "password session." "We have an option called the 'advanced user password,'" says Oster. It's for things one wouldn't do on a daily basis — changing lighting scenes, for example." Before this update, however, a user would need to enter that password for every scene they wanted to adjust. The session password allows for system-wide adjustments without re-entering that password over and over.
New User Experience Improvements and Beta Testing
Another tweak was done to improve the user experience for volume control. "We've got a volume slider at the bottom of the display, and we've made UX refinements so that a simple tap on the left or right of the slider will gently nudge the volume up or down."
The update also includes the ability to add a "Quick Action" command that puts a touch screen into standby. "The default used to be that screens would go to standby (or the screensaver) after a few minutes, but let's suppose you have one on your nightstand and you're getting ready to go to bed," says Oster. "That Quick Action overrides the timed standby function and puts the screen into standby immediately so its light isn't bothersome."
Larger updates to the platform are in the works, and Oster has a reminder: "Dealers can sign up for beta testing for the bigger changes we're working on. For example, one of the most widely anticipated Crestron Home features, 'Multi-Processors,' is available as an early preview right now on the beta forum. It's an excellent opportunity to learn about this massive shift in how systems can be architected so that the day it goes to general availability, dealers will already know all about how it works. They can live with new versions of the Crestron Home OS in their homes and showrooms before new updates are released — so the day a new version ships, they can be completely comfortable putting it into a client's house. It's already familiar."