Custom Apps for Crestron Systems: Bringing Nest Efficiency to a New App

As a software guy I’m constantly thinking about new features I can add on to products in my own home that make life easier, more fun, or more efficient.  This is what interests me most about software development: there are no limits, we can keep adding to the power and complexity of software, constantly improving it. 

I always have a few DIY projects going on, in addition to what I work on for Control Concepts and our customers.  Occasionally, projects that start out for me and my family turn into apps we make available on app marketplaces, when I see that others benefit from the same kinds of features that make my devices meet my custom needs.

My most recent DIY project is to design an app that makes a Crestron system to mimic the functionality of the Nest thermostat to improve the performance and efficiency of my heating system.  The first step in developing the custom app was to recognize that the functionality of the Nest thermostat was a programming, rather than a hardware, requirement.  This realization challenged my programming skills as I took steps to replicate Nest functionality.

Advantages of a Custom Crestron App for a Home Heating System

The main advantage of this custom application is increased efficiency, in all senses of the word.  For some users, environmental impact or “Being Green” really matters.  My custom app improves energy efficiency around the house, saving on energy costs and reducing the environmental impact of heating a home.

For users less concerned about efficiency, the app provides a better user experience, ensuring their house is always at a comfortable temperature, whenever they are home.

Why Nest Functionality and this Type of Application Matters for Users and for AV

What’s significant here, when you look at the development of the custom application for a Crestron system, is that it uses programming to make devices smarter and to improve efficiency.  Essentially, a custom app like this makes the devices greener. It also makes the devices more useful, giving you the results you want more often.

You can apply some of the same software ‘learning’ to an AV system.  In programming custom applications, AV programmers should ask “when is the system being used?” and “when are specific devices being used?”.  As an example, look at AV for the higher education environment.  Perhaps a particular class at a university uses a secondary projector often, but that is the only class that does; the other classes that meet in the room do not.  As the programmer, you could program the system to learn when the secondary projector is turned on, and only turn it on when it will most likely be used, instead of turning it on every time the system is in use.

Intelligent Devices Mean More Efficient, Reliable Control

As devices are becoming more intelligent and report better information back the control system, the control system that runs the overall AV system becomes more efficient.  The system is better able to include more reliable automation, say from motion sensing, video input sensing, etc.

Custom applications, like the custom Crestron application that mimics the functionality of the Nest thermostat that I am working on now, reinforce the relationship between devices and control systems.  The scope of customized solutions is increasing and the more creativity we programmers bring to projects the better it is for us and for users.

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