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Thread: Touchscreen interface to HA

  1. #1
    Automated Home Guru Vangelis's Avatar
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    Default Touchscreen interface to HA

    Been thinking of getting hold of a touchscreen (to wall mount) and interfacing it with HA. This maybe anything from Audio Control to IP Camera feed.

    As opposed to just a touchscreen, you can get hold of a touchscreen with ARM type processor (along with interfaces). This would allow it to run its own OS, providing a GUI front end and sending control messages to various components eg LWRF

    My question (as a non-programmer) is, has anyone played with an application package (Win CE or Linux) that can provide a GUI type front end with the ability to send custom macros or control scripts when, say a on screen button is pressed.

    This maybe a big ask, but the likes of AMX tablets seem very expensive and I was looking into something more homebrew.

    Thoughts?

    Vangelis

  2. #2
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    If the touch interface can be built up using web pages, then any cheap Android tablet running Android 2.3 or above would do.

    I have used Mainlobby in the past and this worked well. Can now be used with tablets and iPads.
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  3. #3
    Automated Home Guru Vangelis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toscal View Post
    If the touch interface can be built up using web pages, then any cheap Android tablet running Android 2.3 or above would do.

    I have used Mainlobby in the past and this worked well. Can now be used with tablets and iPads.
    Those Mainlobby touchscreens are pretty expensive... I had been looking at this http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Samsung-S3...317#vi-content

    It's a bit limited on power but I have seen some people use them on projects with good results (although they code the GUI themselves in C++) hence my original question.
    Last edited by Vangelis; 12th January 2013 at 05:53 PM.

  4. #4
    Automated Home Jr Member philipp.schuster's Avatar
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    I have done a lot of development work on panel PCs in the past. We used to create Linux images (Fedora or Ubuntu) that would boot straight into a web browser that ran in KIOSK mode to control web based home automation systems. I would not go down this route again though... It is too much setup and maintenance work. You keep having to install updates of the OS and the browser, which at one point will break something. For example a change in the behaviour of the browser when a web page cannot be loaded. I recall a point when firefox removed the try again button...

    Given the amount of cheap Android tablets and also older generation iPads I would simply mount one of those on the wall.

    If you are looking for an iPad mount I suggest you take a look at: Loxone iPad Mounts

    If you are set on the idea of a touchscreen, then I have an Atom based panel PC that I would be willing to sell for a bargain price, since I am not using it. Please PM me if this is of interest to you.

    All the best,

    Philipp
    Home Automation Enthusiast and Head of Loxone in the UK.

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  5. #5
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    I've been looking at IP entryphones and running a RPi with Asterisk as a house VOIP exchange - the SIP entryphone would then call the VOIP handsets, which display the IP stream on their screens. Compared to the cost of dedicated Video door stations this looks very cost effective with the added benefit that you've also solved your telephony. Just came across this - Grandstream GXP 2200 - a VoIP phone running Android that will load apps from the Google Play store (as well as having a web browser). I found it online for 160

    Scope for integration into a Home Automation system looks really good. Would be great with a Loxone app running on it for example.

    There seems to be a version without a keypad but with a 7" touchscreen as well
    Last edited by b33k34; 15th January 2013 at 09:46 PM.

  6. #6
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    I used the mainlobby software to create my own inteface which ran on a mini-itx running XP and a 7" VGA touch screen that was going to be wall mounted. This was done as a demo for a potential set of clients, several years ago. All you need is Mainlobby and the server which is about 230 dollars. Plus the pc components. But when you can a 10 inch Android tablet for less than 150 pounds (mine cost 124 pounds), it does makes the Mainlobby software look very expensive.

    I even did an LCARS based control screen for my Homevision set up,more for fun than anything else. The full set up had a security screen where you entered a pin code then gave you access to the LCARS main screens. This is what the pin code screen looked like.
    n_a.jpg
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
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  7. #7
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    Take a look at CommandFusion iViewer for the touch screen control. It can be used on either iOS or Android devices. Recently featured on this very website! http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/video...utomation.html

  8. #8
    Moderator Kevin's Avatar
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    Yes , it's frightening the AMX and Crestron costs and the software is restricted to their installers too - but the end results are very professional if you can afford. Fortunately there's now quite a few good alternatives emerging for this - and the general consensus that using Android tablets or iPads is the most cost effective solution, Android especially. You could take the base Linux / WinCE approach but I suspect it won't be cost effective if you look at the time and cost involved . You will need some programming experience however to get things working just as you would like and don't underestimate how difficult it is to create a pleasing visual design.. OTOH it will engross you for hours and hours with a pleasure that only you will appreciate..

    For the iPad/Android software - among others take a look at iRule, iViewer (Mark has just posted an article on this - note it's licensed per device) , TouchControl and Roomie. It's important that you research just how these applications are going to support the specific devices you want to control and how much tweaking/coding you feel comfortable undertaking yourself; some of these have inbuilt device libraries and some leave it very much up to you. AV integration can be the most awkward thing to get right as there is a lot of two way interaction and rich data like playlists, cover art and internet streaming services.

    The alternative approach is a centralised controller offering an inbuilt web server and/or dedicated apps that handle a lot of the interface design for you. These could range from an IR based control interface like RedEye through software like MainLobby, CQC, HomeSeer etc to dedicated controllers like Fibaro, MiCasa, Loxone and many more. These can be very attractive and much easier/quicker solutions than handling the control directly from each screen although they are typically more restrictive in the layout design.

    Very important to decide what you want to control and select a path that will match your own capabilities and desired appearance and functionality. The devices must have some way of being remotely controlled obviously too.

    K
    Last edited by Kevin; 16th January 2013 at 02:05 PM.

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