Cortexa launches home automation controller


Staff member
Austin, Texas – November 29, 2005 – Lower the lights, listen to your favorite tunes and water the lawn with the touch of a screen. The automated digital home is finally moving from the silver screen to a neighborhood near you. Once solely the realm of superheroes, spies and space-age cartoons, or real-life multi-millionaires, home automation is now available for everyone.

“Cortexa Technology is shaking up the home automation market with a product that offers the same functionality as more expensive and complex systems but is easier to use and much more affordable,†explains Billy Martin, chief executive officer, Cortexa Technology. “What was once only available in custom homes is now an affordable feature in mid-market homes.â€

So, move over, Joe Millionaire. Cortexa Technology’s home automation system is designed for the “average Joe†to control all the home systems like heating and cooling systems, audio, lighting, irrigation, and security, in addition to computer networks and entertainment devices. With home automation systems, homeowners reap benefits such as enhanced security, remote access, utility savings and convenience.

The Cortexa home automation system allows a homeowner to control multiple systems inside and outside of the home. The “brain†is programmed within the home and controlled by a touch screen, through a TV or via the Web from anywhere in the world. The system offers homeowners convenience, enhanced home security and utility savings, in addition to tremendous future re-sale value.

Read the rest of this press release
Founded in 2002, Cortexa Technology is the only company that has developed both the hardware and software from the ground up to meet the needs of a wider market, as more homeowners look for ways to have a more functional, efficient, and secure home. In the product’s design stage, Cortexa founder and Chief Technology Officer Joe Doran dubbed his prototype “Joe Box,†in line with his goal to create affordable systems for the “Average Joe.â€

“Home automation should be as accessible, affordable and as easy to use as other sub-systems in the home, like central heat and air,†says Joe Doran, Cortexa’s CTO. “An intelligent automation system offers more than convenience, security and peace of mind. In the long run, as it adapts to the habits of the household, it can also significantly reduce energy costs through smarter management of high consumption systems.â€

In a market where other home automation systems typically begin at $50,000, Cortexa has entered the market with a price point that is a fraction of other systems. A Cortexa system can be installed for $ 3,000-15,000 depending on the number of sub-systems the homeowner decides to bring on line.

Until now, home automation systems have been notoriously complex, using a combination of proprietary and customized software and hardware components. Cortexa simplified its system by making the user interface so easy to use that the homeowner can program the system themselves and make adjustments as the need arises. The software integrates to the most common sub-system platforms and is enhanced every week with customers receiving free upgrades.

The essential elements of a Cortexa home automation system include:
  • Cortexa 7201 home automation controller: This book-sized hardware is the
    brain of the system and is programmed to control the sub-systems and devices
    within the home.
  • In-wall, mobile touch screen, TV module, PC: Any of these devices allow the user to access the Cortexa system in the way that they choose, offering both flexibility and ease-of-use with familiar, graphic interfaces.
  • Secure Internet access to your Cortexa System: Using a standard web browser, the homeowner can securely access their home and view a screen that is identical to the one used at the home. There is no additional monthly fee for Internet access to the home.
  • Component and sub-system devices: A range of “smart†switches and controllers replace or attach to lighting, irrigation, audio/video, heat and air and other home sub-systems, allowing them to interact with the Cortexa “brain†(controller).
Currently, Cortexa is marketing the systems through alliances with homebuilders and home automation installers and by marketing directly to individuals.

Cortexa executives foresee increasing demand for simplified solutions to manage smart systems, like heating and cooling, and the numerous wired and wireless technologies used in the home. “As broadband Internet becomes ubiquitous and enables more applications, home automation becomes necessary to support our lifestyle. To homeowners, the ability to manage their home is becoming as important as the floor plan and finish out,†adds Martin.

About Cortexa Technology, Inc.
Based in Austin, Texas, Cortexa Technology Inc. is a privately held company that develops and markets home automation systems to bring increased functionality and efficiency to all homes with an emphasis on mid-market homes. The Cortexa product is engineered from the ground up and includes both the software and solid state hardware. The company’s founders are passionate about providing home automation for all and, during development of the product, focused on affordability, dependability and usability. To find out more about Cortexa Technology, visit
I had a chat with one of the Cortexa people, and here are some important notes:
  • This box will probably directly compete against the Homeseer PRO-100 machine. They aren't familiar with the PRO-100, so this is my personal opinion.
  • The machine runs BSD, so it's rock solid (or at least it should be).
  • Some of its features remind me of Pluto, since this product also offers everything in 1, including firewall & routing.
  • Protocols supported are Z-wave, UPB, Insteon, X-10 and many others.
  • If you would like to chat with one of the Cortexa folks, let me know, and I will invite them as a guest speaker.
I would very much enjoy a chat with Cortexa. I've been loosely following this company (they're local to me) and have talked with their founder and their sales guy a couple of times.

(We were supposed to have dinner, actually, and the two were going to come to my loft afterwards to carry on about their Unix-based controller and for a live demo of MainLobby and iautomate RFID...but they didn't followup as promised with the date, unfortunately. I think they've been a little overwhelmed by the interest from home builders since their story in the Austin American Statesman).

Frankly, I think they've nailed the HA mid-market. Super-reliable dedicated controller, wide support of major automation technologies, and pitch-perfect pricing. Where they fall a little short, to my mind, is the front-end interface. I'd like to see this platform coupled with MainLobby - or some derivative of MainLobby.

So, bring em on Electron, and maybe you can mention something about that long lost dinner. I'd still like to do it.
I looked at the web site and liked the basic description but didn't see any specifics. What is the rules engine/programming interface like? Can security inputs be used for general hardwired I/O or are they dedicated to security only? Any TTS or voice prompt output? Any support for RS-485 devices? General ASCII communication with other contollers or equipment?
It doesn't support any VR or TTS at the moment. Check out their User guide, which has screenshots and pictures.
electron said:
It doesn't support any VR or TTS at the moment. Check out their User guide, which has screenshots and pictures.
I like it. Has potential, but TTS is a must. VR would be nice too.

I checked the specs and they are too fuzzy. For Power Requirements it jst says somehting like Very low power required, and the processor just says VIA Eden, but not the model number.

It would be nice to have a talk with the Corteza folks. I would like to make them a lot of questions, including how to program advanced features in the device.
There are some TTS packages out there for Linux (free and commercial), so I assume they can be ported to BSD. I will get in touch with them and see if I can set something up.