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CR Talks To: Michael de Nigris, co-founder and CEO of Autonomic Controls : A Space for Apple

Autonomic Controls makes it easy to work Apple TV into your projects.

June 2010 By CR Staff
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We've come to count on Apple to deliver the greatest innovations in electronic entertainment. Apple gave us the iPod, which revolutionized the way we listen to music. It gave us the iPhone, which changed the way we use personal communications. But when it comes to incorporating Apple technology into custom home entertainment systems, things can get complicated. After all, Apple designs products for the mass market, not for integrators.

Case in point: Apple TV. This 7½-inch-square box delivers an extraordinary variety of home entertainment options, from high-definition movies and TV to music, podcasts, Internet radio and YouTube—and it's all as easy to access as a song on an iPod. Simple as it may be to work Apple TV, though, its creators designed it for use with the basic remote included in the box. Try integrating Apple TV with home automation systems, and you'll wish you had a degree in computer science.

"Apple TV runs on a highly complex HTTP protocol that was designed for networking products," said Michael de Nigris, co-founder and CEO of Autonomic Controls, a company that specializes in software for integrating computer-based products with home automation systems. "Its design isn't conducive to working with typical home automation products."

Fortunately for integrators, Autonomic has created a software module that allows AMX, Crestron and Universal Remote Control systems to operate Apple TV. "We have many thousands of hours of programming invested in this project," de Nigris said. "Ninety-nine percent of integration firms wouldn't have the time or resources to get something like this working."

A Miniature Media Server

Most integrators haven't paid Apple TV much attention, which is understandable because the device doesn't seem to fit with a custom audio/video system. Yet when it comes to accessing audio and video sourced from a hard drive or from the Internet, it offers tremendous advantages over computers and iPods.

Apple TV is basically an audio/video storage device with wired and wireless network/Internet connections. It works through Apple's iTunes interface and can access the iTunes website just as a computer. When connected to a home network, Apple TV automatically synchronizes itself with a computer in the same way an iPod does, transferring all of the computer's iTunes-related content—music, videos, podcasts, etc.—onto its own 160-gigabyte internal hard drive. That's more storage capacity than you'll find on any but the very latest and most expensive iPods.

 
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