Please give us a general overview of your software.
CQC is a software based automation platform, essentially the equivalent of a Crestron type system, but based on the Windows operating system. So you provide the hardware and CQC provides the intelligence to bring it all together into a coherent whole. CQC is very open ended, and can scale from small systems up to very complex residential or commercial solutions. As with most high end automation solutions, CQC is not itself an out of the box solution. It is more an enormously powerful toolkit which can be used to create automation solutions of almost any sort. It may not provide the instant gratification that much simpler systems might, but it can easily accommodate your growing automation needs, whereas most simpler systems will reach their maximum potential fairly early on. It does provide some tools to help bootstrap your efforts.
CQC is an enterprise level product, easily supporting large numbers of simultaneous devices, touch screen clients, remote controls, voice, and other user input sources. It is fully network based from the ground up and the system can be managed from any CQC enabled client.
One key advantage that CQC has over its peer products is that it is highly customizable but requires no programming. Some competing products are highly flexible but only if you have the programming skills to make it so. And others require no programming, but are not highly flexible, particularly in the graphical touch screen interface area. You can create very complex CQC based solutions in a purely point and click environment, though if you do have programming skills you can of course put them to good use.
Which OS and hardware are required to make the system function?
CQC itself is Windows based, so it requires at least one Windows device. Typically it must always be on, since it is often going things independent of any user interaction. There are then various other types of clients that can be used. Our flagship touch screen client is Windows based, but there are two third party iOS touch screen clients. Beyond that, it becomes a matter of what hardware you want to support. You can control CQC via remotes (IR, RF) other software products in a few different ways, voice control via the Amazon Echo, and so forth.
Which protocols or brands of devices will the software control?
CQC is a software based product, so it can control almost any type of device, given the broad range of communications media supported by modern computer operating systems. Typically they are serial, TCP/IP/UDP, IR, or USB, but almost anything is controllable given the ability to access the device from Windows.
Does the software run on a PC? If not please describe how it works.
It does run on a PC.
Can the software be controlled with other devices such as smart phones, tablets or dedicated keypads etc.
There are various ways to interact with CQC. Windows based clients can run our flagship touch screen client. There are two third party iOS clients, one of which hosts user interfaces created via CQC and another which is a more generic access mechanism. You can train CQC to react to IR commands, text strings, or HTTP commands sent via socket or serial connection from things like RTI remotes or other software products on phones, tablets, and so forth. We provide a Websockets interface via our Web Server which can be used to create custom HTML clients if you wish. And we provide an XML Gateway server that allows you to create custom clients (or just drive CQC from other products) using an XML over sockets protocol. You can also have CQC react to buttons on various products that provide wall mounted panels or portable fob type controllers.
Please describe some of the primary functions that can be performed by the software
CQC provides all of the functionality that high end automation solutions generally do. It can do things at scheduled times or in response to changes in the state of devices under its control. It provides a variety of means by which users can ask it to carry out actions. It provides all of the administrative tools to configure and customize CQC for your needs, including a very powerful graphical touch screen designer tool. It has extensive built in support for media management and playback. It can send e-mails or speak to you to inform you of important events. It comes with hundreds of drivers for existing devices and allows for third party driver development.
Is the software designed to be installed and set up by a homeowner or is a professional integrator recommended?
CQC is primarily a professionally targeted product, but it is DIY friendly. There are no secrets held back from DIY users, the product is fully documented on the Charmed Quark web site.
How long has the company been in operation and what other products / services do you offer?
CQC 1.x was released in 2002, so it is now approaching 15 years as a working product in the field. As of Aug. 2015 it is in its 4.7.x version release, heading towards a very significant 5.0 release.