Since he left EchoStar (NSDQ: SATS), Slingbox inventor Blake Krikorian has been working on a home automation app, meshing his experiments with renovations on his own Bay Area home. After seven months in full beta, the first public result is live now in the Android Market. The $99 R2 Control for Crestron — yes, you read that right — literally turns most Android smartphones and tables in a fully-functional touch panel for the automation systems company. With it, residential and commercial users can manage nearly every Crestron system on the scene or remotely.
During a stay at Krikorian’s home late last year, I had a chance to use the Android app in progress and to watch him manage entertainment, lighting, security systems and more inside and out from smartphones and tablets. It wasn’t exactly as mind boggling as the first time I saw a Slingbox at work — home automation isn’t new and neither are home automation or building control apps — but the potential for a program that was usable, powerful and flexible was intriguing. Crestron already supports versions for iOS, MacOS and Windows; this is the first for Android.
Krikorian, who was looking for something for his own use, started out with the notion of relying on iOS — he even had mounts ready for iPads that would become touchscreen control panels used throughout the house. But Android turned out to be a more flexible development tool and the advent of Android touchscreen devices, including tablets, offered alternatives. None of it would work without the communication made possible by IP networks, broadband, and wireless
Unlike the Slingbox, which was affordable by most people with a passion for place shifting TV, R2 Control is for those with the money to invest in systems that use Crestron panels. For them, $99 may not be an impulse buy but it’s not expensive. Krikorian sees it as a potential alternative between the high-end systems and home-automation geeks who like to put systems together themselves, something that could go mass market.
It’s the first product to emerge from Krikorian’s id8 Group since the Slingbox; id8 Group Productions is a tech lab that falls under id8 Group Holdings. Krikorian and his brother Jason sold Sling Media to EchoStar in 2007 for roughly $380 million; this is Blake Krikorian’s first personal tech project to emerge since they left EchoStar in 2009.
R2 isn’t Krikorians’s only interest. He was an early investor in Clicker and advisor to founder JIm Lanzone; Clicker recently sold to CBS (NYSE: CBS). He’s also invested in Wavii and Refocus.