The Vista feature you pretty much forgot about is back: ControlThink's got a new remote control platform for Windows Media Center and other devices called ThinkRemote that leverages Vista's oft-touted-but-rarely used SideShow. That's right, you can get SideShow information and gadgets anywhere in your house since the platform uses the Z-Wave flavor of wireless for communication for home automation tricks like turning lightbulbs on and off. Logitech's big remote was supposed to do this last year, but it failed to, um, work as promised. So is this the first? Maybe.
ControlThink Introduces Z-Wave Enabled Platform for Mass Market Windows SideShow Enabled Remote Controls
ControlThink's ThinkRemote Platform to Speed Time-to-Market for CE Manufacturers; PiTech and CWTek are First Hardware Partners
CEDIA 2007 - September 5, 2007 - ControlThink today announced its new ThinkRemote platform, providing PC and accessory manufacturers the ability to create mass-market Microsoft Windows SideShow-enabled remote controls using Z-Wave, the industry-standard wireless technology for home control and automation.
PC and accessory manufacturers can now create affordable Windows Media Center remote controls as well as other Windows SideShow-enabled devices—while leveraging Z-Wave wireless mesh technology to deliver personalized information such as weather and stock quotes to anywhere in the home.
"We're excited that ControlThink and the Z-Wave Alliance are bringing to market a platform that will help CE manufacturers around the world take advantage of Windows SideShow technology while enabling a new price point for devices," said Bill Mitchell, Corporate Vice President of the PC|3 Division of Microsoft.
Benefits of the Z-Wave enabled ThinkRemote platform include:
•Manufacturers can create affordable, mass-market Windows SideShow-enabled remotes, including built-in support for Windows Media Center
•Any Z-Wave device with a display can integrate with the ThinkRemote platform and display Windows SideShow content using standard Z-Wave profiles
•Remotes can also communicate with any other Z-Wave enabled devices, such as lights, blinds, thermostats, and security and entertainment devices
•Reliable Z-Wave technology removes the need for line-of-sight, allowing the remote to be used anywhere in home by utilizing Z-Wave's mesh network repeater functionality
•Two-way Z-Wave technology allows interactive displays in wireless remotes and other devices, such as fridge magnets
•Supports all Windows SideShow gadgets including weather, stock quotes, email, and third-party gadgets
•Content can be customized per user or shared with the whole family
•Provides for optional control of Windows Media Player or other software, and allows OEMs to integrate their own custom screens, menus, and other functionality
•Works with simpler non-display remotes as an alternative to infrared PC remote controls
•Z-Wave to IR bridge (using IR emitters on the PC) will be available as an optional add-on for OEMs wanting to make their PCs the hub of the entertainment center, allowing a Z-Wave enabled remote to send commands to a cable box, amplifier, or other equipment via the PC
•Initial release supports full Windows SideShow experience for text-based remotes, including both glance data and regular content
"This is another example where Z-Wave technology and its rich ecosystem of interoperable products is enabling new and exciting applications," said Mark Walters, chairman of the Z-Wave Alliance. "By integrating with Windows Vista we're extending the reach of home control."
"Our goal was to create a low-cost way for manufacturers to create PC-based remote controls and Windows SideShow-enabled hardware devices using Z-Wave," said Chris Walker, President of ControlThink. "And while we accomplished that, we also transformed the PC from a single-room computer to a whole-home entertainment solution and information hub. This is really exciting, and opens significant new opportunities for PC and accessory manufacturers."
As part of the initial launch, two hardware partners - PiTech and CWTek - are developing remote controls and other devices that take advantage of Windows SideShow and Z-Wave technology. These products are expected to be available for consumers in late 2007 or early 2008.