Video Accessories Misc

iRule Home Automation System Review - Controller Application


Design of the iRule Home Automation System Review - Controller Application

The iRule system consists of three main components: the iRule Builder application, a control gateway (or multiple gateways), and an app that runs on your iOS or Android device. Pretty much any handheld gadget can be used as a controller as long as it runs one of the aforementioned operating systems. For my review, I used a third-generation iPad, an iPhone 4 and a Kindle Fire. The iRule app is a free download although it won't do anything until you create screens in the iRule Builder application. The Builder is a web app (or cloud app) that runs via a Google login. You can test drive it free for 14 days if you like. The Basic version costs $49.99 and includes all the functionality you need to create handsets and control just about anything you can connect to a gateway. The Pro version is $99.99 and offers a few extra features that you'll need if you want more handsets or panel sharing between accounts or if you want to use feedback from your devices. If you want to upgrade from Basic to Pro later, it's $50 so there's no risk in starting out with Basic.

Once you've created your control panels in Builder, you'll want to wire up your gear to a gateway. iRule sells a line of products from Global Cache that all do the same thing in different ways: convert IP commands to IR, RS-232, or whatever your components need to be controlled. The most common gateway is one that outputs IR commands which are sent to stick-on emitters or to the direct IR inputs many devices include. For my review, I tried out three different products: the iTach WF2IR, iTach IP2IR and the GC-100-6. The WF2IR has a built-in WiFi radio so it can operate without a physical network connection. The IP2IR is the same box but without the radio. The GC-100-6 also requires a network cable connection but adds RS-232 control to its three IR outputs.