Home Automation is Alive and Kicking!
After many responses to our first blog, “Home Automation is Dead”, we’ve decided to provide a follow-up.
Home Automation is alive and kicking! It has never been so fluent as today. In the past, when I met people, they would ask: “What do you do for a living?” I’d reply: "I design, install and program home automation or smart home systems". And then the puzzled look: “Huh?” After many attempts to explain this unknown field to them, I’d change my response to: “I do audio and video, like speakers, TVs or Home Theaters”. But I don’t just do audio and video. And I definitely don’t just do Home Theaters. We specialize in Smart Home Technology. We design the perfect system to integrate multiple electronic and network systems within a residence to provide easy operation and synergy of technology.
And with the iPad/iPhone/Android/Mobile Applications/Z-Wave/Bluetooth/Zigbee, etc., the home automation field has never been so alive! Everyone is getting into the game these days which is like free marketing for the industry. Every company now has some type of mobile application. Almost everyone has a smart phone and/or tablet of some sort. And with these devices they can control so many parts of their life. The only problem is that most mobile applications are selfish. They only address their main interests. You can get an application from: Lutron to control your lights; Nest to control your HVAC; Sonos to control your house audio; Universal Remote to control your TV system; Zodiac to control your pool; etc. I’m sure you get the point.
While some people are fine with 5 - 20 individual mobile applications to control their homes, I think this is crazy! I listened to a seminar at the last CEDIA Conference about a business model of App-to-App control: the use of multiple applications to control your house. As a long time integrator, I feel this is way too annoying. With this structure you can never combine control therefore truly automating control. This really is no different than having a different remote for each device. Even with the manufacturer remotes it can be confusing because there is no true customization. And which one do you use for this feature or device? Like a cable box or satellite receiver remote, you get the basic controls such as channel up and down, volume up and down, keypad, cursor, menu, exit, DVR functions (Play, Pause, Stop, FF, REW) and more. But on both remotes and applications the placement of some buttons doesn’t even make sense. Plus there are those extra buttons that no one ever uses (or better yet the combination buttons that sometimes work if you remember to press the device button first). I am not saying you need total customization but it is nice to have some. Also with customization you can standardize the control. At Control Designer, Inc., we like to create a control page that makes sense and has structure based on the needs of our customers. We like to combine other functions and features (lights, HVAC, shades, cameras and more) to the page so it is easily accessible. For example, sound modes for different audio selections. You may want to watch DirecTV for sports, movies, and/or music. And for each of these selections you may want the audio mode to be different.
With the evolution of all the new systems available today, it has become more affordable to add many aspects of control to your project. For example, we are currently involved with a development that is installing smaller smart system starter kits. It will monitor energy consumed by the home, monitor the front door camera, unlock and lock the front door, control the HVAC, plus provide an upgraded wireless network for under $2,500 per home. With this starter package, the home owner now has a starter system that could incorporate their TV systems, lights, shades, house audio, and security with minor additional items. In the old days this price would have been crazy! And the systems that tried to accomplish these same outcomes at two or three times this cost usually were unstable or inconsistent due to lockups and power issues.
So what am I saying? You can easily add a system for less than $5,000 to any home, even an existing home, for some added convenience. This is why home automation/smart home technology is more marketable than ever before. So when people tell me “home automation is dead”, I just laugh. Nowadays, you have NO reason NOT to make your house smart.