Control System WI-FI Touchpanel Evolution

The iPad is a revolutionary device that millions around the world own or want. It already has and will continue to change the way many “personally compute”. The iPad is also causing a stir in the Home Automation /System Integration world. WI-FI touchpanels from control system manufacturers like Crestron typically cost in the neighborhood of $3000-5000. The entry level iPad costs $500. There are many pros and cons to using the iPad as a control system touchpanel, here are a few.


Significantly less expensive
Better wi-fi range
Better display
Better battery
1/2 to 1/3 lighter
Access to the App Store


Suffers from limitations and/or requires 3rd party products & software
Connection lag or app loading time creates a few seconds of user frustration
Will be the target of theft in a commercial setting
No promise of consistency from Apple. It will be difficult to maintain the product.

I am sure there are other issues but i think these are the most important. There are valid arguments against using the iPad as a control system touchpanel but once you have one in your hands it becomes very difficult to say no. I can remember handing a TPMC-10 to a client for the first time. I can remember handing a TPMC-8X to a client for the first time. Neither prompted a smile on the clients face that the iPad did. Whoever you are, whatever your experience in this industry… when you see how the clients respond to this product in person you will understand why I and so many others are excited about the iPad.

I don’t think the iPad will ever be good for a commercial application. People will be prying them loose from in-wall and lectern mounts on a daily basis. I think the existing quirks will be ironed out over the next 6 months and then it will be a perfect fit for residential. Here are a few pics of the TPMC-10/TPMC-8X/iPad. Its one thing to discuss the battery life and cost but another to actually see how much difference there is.

10.4″ diagonal screen
16 Bit 65,536 colors
Battery 3 Hours
Release Date : September 10, 2004

8.4″ diagonal screen
18 Bit 262,000 colors
Battery 9 Hours (more like 2 hours with extended battery)
Release Date : September 14, 2006

9 5/8″ diagonal screen
24bit 16,777,216 colors
Battery 9 Hours
Release Date : April 3, 2010 (from wikipedia)

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