- ELAN a winning team
differences made ELAN's VIA! Touch Panel an industry darling this
year. Here, ELAN Home Systems' Rick Gratz explains what makes VIA!
VIA! is a full-color LCD touch panel that can be used to control numerous
audio/video components and whole-house systems including Futronix
lighting controls, multi-room Hi-Fi, AV, CCTV, satellite TV, DVD,
temperature and security systems.
The panel began shipping in August 2000 and has already won two of
the audio/video industry's most prestigious awards - CEDIA's Electronic
Lifestyle Award for Best Electronic Product 2000 and the Innovations
2001 Design and Engineering Showcase. Here are some of the reasons
The panels can be flush-mounted in a wall or installed in attractive
real-wood tabletop 'valets'. With seven different trim plates and
selectable screen Icons, each panel can be designed to match the decor
of any room. The 6.4" screen allows for large, user-friendly
graphics and eliminates the need to scroll through numerous 'pages'
to control A/V components, lighting or house-wide systems.
The Via! touch panel interfaces direct to the Futronix Enviroscene
& PFX lighting control systems. Lighting Scenes can be selected and
different areas can be controlled with the Via! acting as a master
while still retaining the full functionality of the Futronix switch
panels. Individual circuits can be adjusted on screen and then saved
as part of a new scene. Master level control can be adjusted as can
time, status and event functions.
AUDIO / VIDEO CONTROL
VIA! is a universal touch screen that can be integrated into any audio/video
system. Most touch panels are proprietary to a specific system, meaning
that they issue commands only that system's controller can understand.
The controller then translates these commands into a language the
audio/video components in the system will understand - infrared (IR).
VIA!, however, is a truly universal touch panel. Each VIA! Touch Panel
can transmit IR to, and therefore control, each and every a/v source
component. This means that VIA! Touch Panels can be used in any type
of a/v system, from simple receiver-based systems to sophisticated
multi-source/multi-zone systems, without the need of an expensive
controller to translate each command. Hundreds of IR commands for
dozens of a/v components are already stored in VIA!'s IR Library.
And because VIA! has the capacity to 'learn' IR, it can easily be
taught commands that do not happen to be in the library.
- Universal IR control of a/v components
- Integrates into any a/v system
- No need for expensive, proprietary computer-based controllers
- Learns IR
The majority of home control LCD touch panels on the market today
use the VGA (Video Graphics Adapter) format to send video graphics
to each screen. VGA is the same format that is used to display graphics
on a computer monitor. The computer monitor receives signals sent
to it from the VGA card installed in a computer. Home system controllers
that use VGA touch screens must therefore be computer-based and are
subject to the inherent limitations of the VGA card - most notably
a slow frame rate which results in jumpy or robotic-looking video
images. Computer-based touch screens are also considerably more expensive
and almost always proprietary to a specific system.
VIA! accepts a standard video signal, which is the same signal that
is sent to a television when you connect it to the video output of
a VCR. This means that almost any video source (cable TV, satellite,
DVD, VCR, closed-circuit television cameras, etc.) can be connected
directly to a VIA! Touch Panel - no computers or Ethernet hubs required!
And, when using a video switching device, all of the aforementioned
video sources can be independently accessed for viewing with the press
of a button.