Recently I attended the TecHome Builder Summit in Fort Worth Texas. The summit is put on by TecHome Builder, an online magazine focused on technology in housing. The summit was very well organized and all costs for the attendees were covered by the sponsors. For anyone interested in learning more about how they can better integrate technology into their projects (both new and well established) this is a great event to attend.
Here are 5 technologies that stood out for me and will likely show up in our new builds over the next 18 months:
Control 4 is essentially the operating system for an automated or smart home. It will connect to and manage the many devices you may choose. It is a robust and reliable platform that will enable your favorite products to work together in harmony, personalized to the way you live. While we have used Control 4 in the past we really did not understand it's true purpose as an integration platform for multiple applications such as audio, lighting, security and voice activation (see next item below, Alexa voice control by Amazon), we simply used Control 4 as a lighting control system. While it did a good job on the lighting control, in not properly understanding the technology we missed out on some other great opportunities with that home.
At under $200 this is a very low cost addition to a home automation system. The Echo is a smart speaker developed by Amazon and consists of a tall cylindrical speaker with a seven piece microphone system. It answers to the name Alexa. The device is capable of voice interaction with other home technology platforms such as Control 4 and can provide real time information on things such as weather, traffic and other items of interest.
For all of you who want to have a TV in multiple locations but hate to look at the black hole when the TV is not in use, Seura makes a product for you. Seura makes TV's that vanish behind a mirror. Whether in the living room or bath you can now have a hidden TV that is only visible when you turn it on. Additionally they make water proof TV's for the bath and outdoors.
This is an award winning automation platform that is basically set up for security and can manage the rest of your home as a simple low cost automation hub. While it does not replace a 'Control 4' system it comes at a much lower cost. The manufacturer refers to the panel as an IQ Panel; it can automate lights, activate your security system, lock and unlock doors and adjust your thermostat. Qolsys describes it as the smartest easiest security panel you will ever own.
If you live in a place where there is only room for a small hot water tank and you and your family are always running out of hot water then this is for you. At a relatively low cost of under $400 this small on-demand hot water booster connect to the supply side water pipe from your hot water tank and boosts the temperature of the water as the tank gets low. The manufacture claims that it can increase the capacity of your tank by 45%. While this is not really a tech product it is new and very innovative; it is a product we can certainly use in our town home and condo renovations
Please realize that I have touched just the surface of home automation technology, there are many more products and services out there that may be better suited to your project. The biggest difficulty is in trying to determine what is best for your home and how to properly integrate it. Well there is a solution: There are professionals know as Control Systems Integrators who specialize in designing and coordinating the installation of your home automation systems. They are represented by CSIA .The web site has a locator for Integrators in your local area - unfortunately it does not show anyone in our local Vancouver area: if you know someone please connect them with us!
While we may not have an Integrator partner on board yet, we do have an understanding of the current technology available and have good industry contacts and experience. We have installed 'Control 4', Lutron Home Works as well as integrated audio systems. My best piece of advice is decide what technology you are interested in while you are still at concept design. Many systems such as 'Control 4' are expandable as long as the basic infrastructure and wiring are in place. A properly designed and installed system will work better and cost less. Please connect with me if you want to learn more.
Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2016