CEDIA Find: Extra Vegetables Brings Rich Media Integration to Control4

For a tiny little UK-based company, Extra Vegetables makes a lot of noise in the Control4 home automation scene, delivering the first two-way driver for Sonos, integration with RGB colored LED lighting, and a bunch of other handy add-ons for any Control4 dealer.

This year at CEDIA Expo 2012, Extra Vegetables (as in, a side order of Control4 goodness) is focusing on media storage and playback or, in the words of principal Simon Scotland, “Rip, Tag, Play.”

The new application adds a much-needed content look-up and management system to Control4’s own service. It also eliminates the need for pricey client media payers. Customers can use something as inexpensive as a $130 PopBox. In fact PopBox/Popcorn Hour will share a booth with Extra Vegetables at CEDIA.

Here’s how Simon Scotland describes EV’s new app:

Our main focus this year is going to be RIP, TAG, PLAY.

When we first came across Control4 as an installation company one of the most striking features was that we no longer needed to specify a hard-disc music server in our installations. Control4 had this covered and built in.

Music server companies have since come and gone (mainly gone) and probably the best known now is Autonomic Controls and that ain’t anything like a music server from back in the day.

We’ve been working hard to provide a similar offering for movies and TV shows using the Control4 UI.

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Also at CEDIA Expo 2012, EV will demo:

  • The first Control4-compatible thermostat with humidity control. There’s a 4Store app that goes with that too.
  • More developments on the Sonos integration. The big deal is the proper integration of Sonos zones and Control4 zones. This makes it much easier to use Control4 with a Sonos-in-every-room kind of install.
  • Integration with a another well-known company ….

EV at CEDIA Expo, Booth4979

Psst…Use #cediacepro to get our attention

Once again, movie servers exist but customers and dealers alike question their price. Part of our philosophy is helping dealers “join the dots.”

We’ve been able to write some great drivers for playback devices such as the Popbox, Popcorn Hour, Windows Media Center and Dune but that has only been tackling the PLAY part of the process.

So now we’ve turned our attention to the RIP and TAG parts.

Control4 has a Media Database for storing details of video content but it was designed to look up only DVDs. (Remember them? Yeah like a boil-washed Laserdisc.) Blu-rays, mkvs — nada. Also since it was designed to accompany a carousel changer, it is slow and not designed to monitor folders.

We’ve spent the best part of the year working with a Danish company (yes they make nice pastries too) called My Movies.

My Movies Brings Quick, Accurate Metadata Lookup

My Movies is a content management suite that provides a great metadata lookup service with very accurate information. The movie description it returns is what is on the cover of the disk — not a review from a college student on acid.

It’s fast and it enables us to offload the heavy lifting of the metadata lookup from the Control4 system. You will also find this system at the heart of commercial servers such as Vidabox.

The other thing that has changed is that any customer that can afford a custom system these days has a decent computer at home. And folks aren’t frightened of using them anymore.

So we have a solution that uses that computer to RIP and TAG, then store the movie data on the NAS. The movie information is then on the Control4 interfaces within 60 seconds, so there is no need to keep the computer on.

A four zone system capable of storing in excess of 400 DVDs has a dealer price of under [redacted, but cheap!]. We think this will really open up this area of the business to Control4 dealers.

So there’s going to be a number of demos of this on the booth together with a commercial server solution too. We are also showing the Popbox player on behalf of Syabas.

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By the way, you’ll still need to bring your own ripping software. AnyDVD from SlySoft is an excellent choice … you know, if you’re not ripping copyrighted material.

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