NYC Integrator Monitors Everything … Even Shades
CytexOne in New York City was founded over 15 years ago as an IT managed service provider, so when the company migrated into the smart home automation business about 10 years ago, remote management of equipment was already in its DNA. The company specializes in the scope of project management, engineering, procurement, assembly, connection, programming, installation, testing, training, supporting and maintaining of retrofit or new construction IoT solutions that are used in the hospitality, commercial, industrial and luxury residential applications.
The IoT solutions used by CytexOne are brand and manufacturer agnostic, but require one vital element: the ability to be remotely managed and remotely supported 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. That’s because unlike many custom integrators, CytexOne’s focus is on earning recurring revenue from its projects, using its own proprietary monitoring system dubbed Weave.
“We brought managed automation to the market. That’s how we started,” says president Dan Levine. “We were actually the first Control4 dealer in New York City, and we’ve had remote management and remote monitoring of all devices in every system we’ve ever built. We proactively maintain some, and for some systems we simply just have dashboards.”
2,000 Monitored Somfy Powered Shades
That IT business model was recently put to the test when CytexOne completed the renovation of The Four Seasons Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
“That hotel was the first hotel that CytexOne completed from A to Z, and that’s the first hotel in the world that has a dashboard of Control4® systems running in real time. There were other hotels that we subsequently finished that have those dashboards as well. You can see the status of all the nodes, and make sure you’re, basically, proactively maintaining systems versus reactive,” says Levine.
Among the devices being monitored on the 50-story Four Seasons Hotel on 57th Street project are 2,000 motorized Somfy Systems powered shades.
“We staked our reputation on a manufacturer to deliver a couple of thousand motorized drapes and shades... and Somfy delivered."
— Dan Levine, CytexOne
“We brought Somfy in to The Four Seasons Hotel to do the shade system because all the other shade vendors were basically the legacy products that were using dry contacts that were failing. They required too many points of failure. Somfy had a direct ZigBee radio that was native that could join a Control4 mesh. Somfy was the only company that could do a scalable hotel project like that without requiring a lot more hardware,” says Levine.
On this project, which took over a year and a half to complete, equipment selection was key for CytexOne, which partnered with DEL Motorized Solutions to install the shades. “We staked our reputation on a manufacturer to deliver a couple of thousand motorized drapes and shades. There are over 400 ZigBee mesh networks running in that building. We had to ensure that our name was not sacrificed, even a smidge, and Somfy delivered,” comments Levine.
Indeed, the connectivity and control of the shades was the most important benefit.
“That was the key,” notes Levine. “The fact that they integrate with ZigBee is phenomenal in the CE space, because it natively integrates with Control4. It just sits on the Control4 ZigBee mesh. Frankly, that’s the best. It’s the best. When it’s on the mesh, it just works. We monitor it. It’s just a seamless solution.”
With the Somfy powered shades installed, CytexOne can monitor normalcy and patterns on the actual ZigBee mesh.
“We can see that device and if it’s acting out of whack or if it’s acting completely normal. If it is acting out of whack, we could then trigger alerts that go to the hotel staff or in the hotel ticketing system,” says Levine. He believes the next iteration for shade control is the creation of a Wi-Fi mesh to spur widespread adoption so motorized shades “communicate like Sonos.”
What about shade aesthetics? Shade manufacturers offer various types of window coverings and shade fabrics. Levine says that is important, but he is “indifferent” to those aesthetic features when it comes to integrating the equipment.
“I’m all about the technology. My role on these jobs is to make sure that the systems work perfectly and forever, so the fabrics and the actual materials, I’m indifferent to that. The motors need to work flawlessly. The marriage of Control4, Somfy and Weave is what makes this solution perfect.”
Smaller Project Solutions
CytexOne has developed its own proprietary network monitoring system called Weave that is uses in conjunction with Control4 to monitor more than 2,000 Somfy shades in The Four Seasons Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Not every project includes 2,000 shades, but Levine also utilizes Somfy’s solutions on its smaller scale jobs.
“We have absolutely deployed those same technologies, and they work the same,” notes Levine.
On some projects CytexOne incorporates the Somfy myLink™, a Wi-Fi to Radio Technology Somfy® (RTS) bridge, to control the various products in a system.
“It basically bridges old to new,” comments Levine. “Between those two products, from an integration standpoint, Somfy kills it. There are different definitions of ‘killing it.’ When I say ‘kill it’ I mean in the way of in comparison to others. It’s just nice to be able to have something that just works at scale. If it works at scale, and if it works on one-offs, there are no problems.”
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