Caavo’s Control Center, a set-top box that employs a potent combo of machine learning, deep linking, APIs, HDMI-CEC, IP Control, Bluetooth, and IR to unify your entertainment console, is learning a few new tricks this week. Perhaps the highlights are Telescope, an in-home monitoring tool that lets parents use a Control Center to view what’s playing on a TV connected to another Control Center, and enhanced TV and over-the-air tuner support.
“Privacy is of critical importance to us, and we also know that parents want visibility into what their kids are watching,” said Caavo CEO and cofounder Andrew Einaudi. “Telescope is designed to provide families more meaningful ways to check in when there are multiple TV’s in the home, to start simplifying parental controls and monitoring.”
Toward that end, users will get a notification when Telescope — which only works with Control Centers on the same wired or wireless connection — is active and their screen is actively being shared. “Our goal is to make TV the heart of the home. We want everyone to be able to use the TV without help, we want families to watch something great together, and we want people to be able to get more use out of the biggest screen in their home,” Einaudi said.
With respect to the other new features, Control Center now supports external OTA tuners that receive channels from local broadcast stations, such as Channel Master, Dish AirTV, and Mediasonic Homeworx. And it can now control new TV models from Samsung Smart TV, Sony, Android TV, Roku TV, and LG Smart TV. Lastly, Caavo claims Control Center is the “first and only” universal remote that provides voice search and playback of recorded TiVo content.
Control Center, for the uninitiated, is basically a souped-up HDMI switcher with AI. There’s no need to specify which boxes, receivers, and dongles are plugged in — Control Center detects them automatically. A picture-in-picture menu obviates the need to switch inputs manually. A universal search feature not only pulls up titles across live television, network-attached storage devices, and storefronts like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube, but automatically chooses the best devices from which to play the content. Niftily, Control Center offers built-in voice search and works with both Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant, with support for Dolby Atmos and HDR standards, including HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
Control Center, which starts at $99, has gotten a steady stream of updates since launch — most recently support for IFTTT (a web-based service that lets you create chained rules to trigger actions in Facebook, Telegram, Fitbit, Slack, Skype, Pinterest, and over 600 other services). The optional Control Center Service Plan, which enables universal search, content deep linking, access to guides and recommendations, and more, costs $20 a year or $2 a month.