This blog post is about the new iClick mains controller developed by Pretorian Technologies and I’m going to start by answering three questions that spring to mind:

  1. what is it?
  2. why would I want one?
  3. what can I do with it?

Later on I’ll get into details but for now I want to give you a feel for it.

What is an iClick mains controller?

Image of the iClick mains controller used for switching mains appliances
iClick mains controller

The iClick mains controller lets switch users control one or two electrical appliances using:

  • wired switches such as the Smoothie switches
  • wireless switches using the SimplyWorks wireless technology
  • and uniquely, an iPad running the iClick app (freely available from the Apple App Store)

Running the iClick app or a wireless Smoothie switch gives the user up to 20 metres working range.

Why would I want an iClick mains controller?

iClick allows iPad user to control mains voltage equipment in safety; users are completely isolated from mains power and risk of shock. Other devices let users do this as well; if fact Pretorian already has a unit called the Simplyworks Energise. What is new is the iPad capability.

iClick uniquely allows of mains appliances through an iPad as well as wired or wireless technology switches. It will also pair with a forthcoming ‘environmental control unit’ (I’ll review that when it is available)

What can I do with it?

Typical uses in, say, the kitchen could include:

  • turning on an electric kettle to make a drink
  • using a blender
  • switching the lights on
  • switching on a ventilator fan

The unit can be set to turn on an appliance for as long as you want, continuously on until switched off or for a timed period such as 10 seconds or 20 minutes. We’ll take a closer look at how that is set later in this blog.

Unboxing the iClick

The iClick mains controller is a single box that connects into the standard 3-pin 13 amp main wall socket used in the UK by a cable approximately 1m long. (European and USA versions are also available with appropriate plug and sockets)

The top face has two 3-pin sockets labelled ‘1’ and ‘2’ these are the sockets you will push the appliance plugs into. On the right hand side is the control panel used to set:

  • Whether you are using switches, the iPad or, when available the EnvirON the environmental control unit.
  • How you want to control the appliance(s)
Image of the iClick control panel
iClick control panel
Image of the iClick switch sockets on the side panel
iClick switch sockets on the side panel

On the right hand edge of the iClick are two sockets. These are where you will plug a wired big button switch such as a Smoothie Switch if you wanted to use wired switches for controlling the iClick.

On the base are the circuit breakers that activate if too much current is drawn through the unit: this is a safety feature. There is a warning on the top side label that the maximum current should not exceed 10 amps.

If the circuit breakers are activated then one or both appliances may need to be unplugged to reduce the load. Pressing the circuit breakers back resets the iClick.

And of course there is a full set of instructions describing how to set-up the iClick Mains Controller.

iClick in iPad mode

This is the newest way to control mains appliances and that’s what I’m going to focus on in this blog post. I’ll cover the ‘Sockets / Simplyworks modes in a follow-up blog and a third post when the ‘EnvirOn’ module is available – expected later this year in Q4.

The iClick App

The uniqueness of iClick Mains Controller is that an iPad user now has control of electical appliances in the real world. Put very simply: there are no other devices on the market like it.

Head on over to the Apple App Store and search for iClick by Pretorian Technologies. (Note: this is an iPad only app and your iPad must be iPad 3 or newer. It will not work with an iPad 1 or 2)

This is the app you’ll need.

Image of the iClick app by Pretorian Technologies found in the Apple App Store
iClick App by Pretorian Technologies

Install the app just like any other and pair your iPad with the iClick unit. This is how:

1. Make the iClick findable by pressing the ‘mode’ button on the iClick face; look for the LED next to the iPad label to light up.

2. Open the app

3. Go into ‘Settings’ by touching the blue ‘cog wheel’ in the top right corner of the screen

4. On the ‘Settings’ page touch the ‘No connected devices’ text at the top. This will make the iPad search for the iClick.

5. You should see your iClick is available to pair. (when I did this the iPad found iClick-DB36)

6. Touch the ‘iClick-XXXX’ to complete pairing; it will say ‘Connected’

It’s very simple and similar to connecting a Bluetooth speaker although all the settings are done in the iClick app – not in the iPad Settings.

Configuring the iClick App

This is the interesting part and gets to the heart of how the user can control things in the real world. Users can choose seven switch modes:

Direct: this makes the appliance work whilst the switch is held down.

Latched: pressing the switch turns the appliance on, pressing the switch turns the appliance off.

Timed: allows the appliance to operate for a pre-set period of time from 1 second to 250 minutes.

Co-operative Direct, Latched or Timed: (requires two switches to be attached) Pressing both switches together turns the appliance on. Releasing one or both turns the appliance off. This is a great way of encouraging two individuals to work together.

On / Off: (requires two switches to be attached) here switch 1 turns on both appliances; switch 2 turns both off.

On Screen Buttons

Image of the default iPad on-screen buttons in the iClick app
iClick app default buttons

Open the app and you’ll see two big touch-areas representing buttons used to activate the appliances. The default buttons are red and yellow and roughly 8.5 x 8.5 cm square.

If you like that appearance fine but you can chage them by going back into the app settings (blue cog wheel) and swipe down until you can see the ‘Button Summary’

It’s here you can change the colours, size and apply text to your button. Changing colour is easy and you also have the option to change from a square to a picture taken from your library. You can also use the iPad’s camera to take specific pictures. All this will be immediately obvious to anyone who has used iOS on their iPad or iPhone.

Delayed Access

This section lets you choose between ‘Immediate Access’ and ‘Delayed Access’ and is intended to help users who may be distracted by the on-screen menu items; the blue cog wheel and the ‘All off’ text.

‘Immediate Access’ displays the cog wheel and ‘All off’ text in blue and if touched takes the user into the settings section or switch all devices off all connected appliances.

When ‘Delayed Access’ is selected the ‘All off’ and ‘cog wheel’ are greyed out. As a safety feature the ‘All off’ button is still active and switches connected appliances off. Access ‘settings’ is possible if the greyed-out cog wheel is pressed for two seconds.

Info Section

The info section includes a link to a  ‘Help’ file stored on the Pretorian Technologies website.

Finally, the ‘About’ tab indicates the app’s version number and links to social media.

Considered Observations

The iClick has got a lot going for it and already has been welcomed by specialists in the assistive technology community since its launch in July because:

1. iClick is unique, there is nothing like it anywhere on the market. When you consider it works with the most successful tablet (iPad) available to date it will be a winner.

2. It is produced by Pretorian Technologies Ltd the same people who make the APPlicator, iSwitch, Smoothie Switches, SimplyWorks wireless switching technology, the Enabler Joystick and a number of other products for computer access and switch control.

3. Before long iClick will be seen in schools (helped by the massive installed number of iPads) homes, places of work actually most places where there is a need to turn on a mains powered appliance.

Final thoughts

Excitim are mainly known for switch adapted toys; even so we also offer a range of assistive technology equipment such as the wired Smoothie 75 and Smoothie 125 mm diameter switches, iSwitch, and the APPlicator both for iPad use. The iClick Mains Controller is a welcome and useful addition to our iPad accessories and switches.

We will also be adding the iControl to the catalogue: read this blog post to learn more about iControl for iPad switching of toys.

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