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Product Article: Escient Zone - More Than Just Affordable Home Automation (1/10/2009)

By Bert Kiggen, DMi Europe

The current installation market in Europe has mainly been focussed around top-end systems at top-end prices. The market however, is changing. End-users and installers have become cost-conscious and are looking for alternative mid-end solutions. Given the economic climate, more end-users are choosing to remain in their current homes rather than build new ones, which results in more demand for retrofittable integration solutions. The challenge is to match the wishes and expectations of the end-user with the system's capabilities. In addition, installers need a system which offers rock-solid performance, is reliable and efficient to program.

Looking at the European control market, there are very few affordable solutions, such as Escient Zone, that truly allow full integration of all electrically-controllable functions in the home via one system. The Escient Zone is designed to grow and expand with the end-user and their lifestyle by offering a complete line of whole-house controllers, hand-held remotes, multi room AV products, touchscreens, keypads, lighting, temperature, and security control. It is affordable and ideally suited for new builds as well as retrofit. It integrates and communicates via open standards, which makes it easy to expand its functionality and integrate with third-party brands.

What does it do?

Escient Zone is a single, integrated home automation and control system for controlling AV equipment, lighting, HVAC and security systems. It supports media management and efficient programming, with auto-generated TV screen and touchpanel user interfaces, in an affordable, easy-to-use and easy-to-install system.

The user interface can be displayed full screen on any TV with the push of a single button. All user interfaces are similar making the system intuitive for end-users.

Being a two-way control system, Zone can control 'external' devices and systems and receive status feedback from these, including, for example, Denon and Marantz AV receivers, lighting controllers, and any other RS232- and IP-controllable systems and devices.

For example, radio stations can be accessed from multiple cable boxes, receivers, and tuners by browsing through channel icons or via direct control. The user can also manage, browse, distribute and play music in multiple zones simultaneously or independently. This can be done with music stored in CD changers, an Escient Vision server, an Escient FireBall server, an Escient MC600, on a PC, and other devices. TV stations can be accessed from multiple TVs, cable boxes, receivers, VCRs, and other sources, and video can be managed, browsed and played from DVD changers, an Escient Vision server, a PC, and other devices, with full cover art.

Browse and manage your stored music and add to the queue for timeless entertainment.

For environmental control, the system can access and manage the Escient WT300 wireless thermostat, as well as control blinds, fans, fireplaces, and set up functions such as wakeup calls, etc. Lighting scenes and security systems, drapes, doors, relays, sprinkler systems, and other functions can be accessed and controlled. Using any of the user interfaces, the user can manage the wired and wireless controller connections, grant remote access to their installer for maintenance, and set, for example, the screen saver on the touchpanels displaying for example their dearest moments taken by photo. System components

Zone's primary system components include a choice of main system controllers, offering infrared and serial control, relay output and contact input with power/status sensing, and a full complement of analogue and digital connectivity including USB, Ethernet and an in-built ZigBee server. The flagship MC600 controller further provides media management, with a 160GB internal hard drive and extensive streaming capabilities. Sources can even be digitised to allow audio distribution of any analogue source.

The Escient Zone MC600 Advanced Home Controller allows home theatre, TV, music, movies, lighting, temperature, security and more to be integrated and controlled via any connected user interface.

Remote controllers include in-wall, wired and wireless touchscreen and keypad options. AV distribution components include matrix switching multichannel amplifiers, audio matrix switchers and wireless network amplifiers. Lighting control is provided via wireless switches, dimmers and in-line dimmers, and climate control via a wireless thermostat.

The TS700 7" touchpanel is just one of the range of wall-mounted, handheld and tabletop panels and remotes available.

Escient integrates and communicates within its own system over Ethernet, WiFi and ZigBee, and is controlled via one main system controller. Additional local controllers can be added to extend the capabilities of the system. The controllers integrate with third party products over IP, RS232, IR, relay and any other means, to control electronically-controllable functions and products in the home.

The Escient MM616 8-source, 8-zone multichannel amplifier with built in matrix switching and full pre-amp functionality.

Support for dealers and installers

D&M installation (DMi) is bringing Escient Zone to market in addition to its comprehensive range of products and systems for custom install professionals. DMi provides a full programme of support and training for installers in all of the European territories where we are the exclusive D&M CI distributor. Product training will be given in line with the approved levels of certification being introduced, and information about training and certification is provided via local DMi sales representatives from the particular D&M subsidiary companies. With Zone, DMi will enable many dealers to enter the home automation market for the first time. Our training and support will assist them in the transition to becoming full CI system integrators.

Expansion, upgrade and maintenance

DMi will add a video distribution solution as a logical extension of the current feature set, as well as greater flexibility in the definition of the graphical user interface. In addition, it will be made as easy as possible for installers to integrate D&M-branded products. Two-way drivers to integrate the latest Denon and Marantz products will be made available via us to our installers, free of charge.

In case of any maintenance issues or reprogramming requirements, the installer can easily login to the system from their own premises and adapt the system settings to the latest requirements, while the end-user remains in control over the remote accessibility of the system.


With Escient Zone, DMi offers a control system that provides a high-performance, cost-effective means for CI professionals to offer full home automation and networked AV, employing the latest ground-breaking components from our Denon, Escient and Marantz product ranges.

Zone enables DMi to offer end-to-end integration solutions for the CI channel. It is a standards-based, future-proof system that is equally suited to both new-build and retrofit projects. The level of performance, features, and price advantage offered by Zone compared with established competitive systems, makes it a compelling offer.

Installers who are interested can approach us via our local offices in their respective country, or in case we aren't directly represented, they can contact the European head office in The Netherlands.

Bert Kiggen is the Brand Director for DMi. D&M Installations (DMi), a division of D&M Europe, the division is dedicated to provide a comprehensive range of integrated custom installation solutions from a portfolio of dedicated products from D&M's Denon, Marantz, Escient, Boston Acoustic and Snell Acoustics brands, and other product lines for which it is the exclusive European distributor. DMi is similarly dedicated to providing its appointed custom installers with exemplary support and after sales services.


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