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FUTRONIX - ELAN a winning team

Touch Panel Technology differences made ELAN's VIA! Touch Panel an industry darling this year. Here, ELAN Home Systems' Rick Gratz explains what makes VIA! so unique.

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 why.

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.

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.