2Gig Technologies showed off their GC3 panel at ISC West 2014 earlier this month.
The new GC3 panel boast and impressive set of features including a large 7” inch touch screen, WiFi, Cellular, Bluetooth Low Energy and Z-Wave Radios plus a USB Port which can be used as a service or expansion port as well as possible future applications.
The GC3 is 2Gig’s first panel to incorporate builtin Wi-Fi which can be used for firmware upgrades, future internet services, apps and integration with third part Wi-Fi devices and peripherals. When 2Gig first introduced their GoControl (GC1) panel the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon had not yet exploded so the original GC1 panel contained only a Cellular (GSM, 2G and later 3G) radio port and a built in Z-Wave Radio for home automation devices. While Z-Wave is still a popular choice for home automation devices, Wi-Fi devices are gaining in popularity in various areas of home control and they have a universal mass appeal over Z-Wave, ZigBee or Radio Ra2 devices. Who hasn’t heard of Wi-Fi, now ask yourself or client what Z-Wave, Zigbee or Radio Ra2 is ? 2Gig did not officially say which Wi-Fi devices will be supported by the new GC3 panel but if Lowe’s Iris panel is any indication look for Hot Water Tanks, Air Conditioners, Water Values and Water Sensors, Pool Sensors and of course Wi-Fi Thermostats and Lighting Control modules and devices to be incorporated into the new 2Gig Panel.
In addition to Wi-Fi Internet of Things devices the Wi-Fi radio can be used for alarm communications via broadband in areas where cellular coverage is spotty or non existent. Wi-Fi could also be used as a second form of communication for redundancy or backup where required. Lastly Wi-Fi will make over the air or in this case broadband firmware upgrades fast and inexpensive.
Remote firmware upgrades over 2G or 3G radios on the current GC1 panels involved an additional cost to the customer and often took long periods of time to complete and could even result in some panels not working properly due to data corruption. Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity should solve these issues.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) will be built into every 2Gig GC3 panel. Bluetooth LE can be used for proximity detection to arm, disarm or control home automation devices. Wearable devices such as fitbit’s and smart watches use BLE to communicate and could be integrated and learned into the GC3 to provide a host of services. Door locks, access control and Personal Emergency Reporting or PERS applications are also a natural fit since many of these devices communicate using Bluetooth LE.
On the hardware side 2Gig has relocated the cellular radio port from a multi-pin connector on the motherboard inside the panel to a radio slot located on the outside of the panel. Replacing a cellular module on a GoControl 1 panel required a technician of open up the panel and remove or install a circuit board and antenna directly to the motherboard. With the new radio slot on the exterior side of the New GC3 Panel swapping out a cellular radio module is almost as simple as inserting an SD Memory Card into your camera. 2Gig made this some simple that even a customer could do it.
Speaking of memory … the new GC3 panel has a USB Port on the top of the panel which will be used as a service port or to add new features or hardware in the future. Some of the potential features of the USB port include using a USB camera to snap pictures of who arms or disarms the panel, downloading pictures to the panel to use as a home screen or slide show picture frame and uploading pictures or data from the panel to an external source for archiving purposes.
While 2Gig hardware engineers have been working day and night on the new GC3 panel, 2Gig’s software programmers have been working endlessly to bring a whole new look to the GC3 Panel. I like to compare the changes in the operating system of the GC1 and GC3 panels to the upgrades Apple did to iOS7 from previous iOS interfaces.
The new 2Gig user interface on the GC3 panel is much more straight forward and easier to navigate. Gone are the hidden menus and multiple button presses to navigate menus especially with automation devices and services. The new GC3 interface is all about user content and control. The Automation features are now displayed right on the home screen for easy activation along with Security controls. One button press brings launches a display of Icons the look similar to app buttons. Each icon has a function and most controls can now be accomplished in one or two button presses.
According to 2Gig representatives at the show the new GC3 panel should be available this fall at a price which should be slightly more expensive than the Original 4 inch touch screen GoControl Panel (GC1).
In the wake of the news at ISC West 2014 that the new Interlogix Advisor One Panel will not have Alarm.com integration at launch, I asked around the 2Gig booth to see if the GC3 panel will have Alarm.com integration when it becomes available but nobody could give me a firm answer.
Alarm.com integration will be crucial to the success of both the Interlogix Advisor and 2Gig GC3 panels … who ever secures ADC integration first will definitely have an advantage over the other.