Home Automation – The Future of Home Technology?

Technology should be an enabler. It should not be there for itself, but to make the lives of its users easier and more convenient. In the home, the ongoing and rapid advances in home automation are expanding the possibilities.

If I want to listen to music, within a few seconds I can choose a well worn playlist or choose the tracks for a new one. I can access online subscription services or radio stations.

Most mornings I listen to the news while eating breakfast. A single dedicated button press gets this up and running without having to think about it. When I leave for work another single dedicated button press turns all of the lights off, all of the media off, the alarm on and beeps for confirmation as I slam the door. I know that if some incident should occur while I am out of the house I will get a text message alerting me to the fact.

I don’t have to worry about regular tasks such as the above, the electronic systems do it all for me. And this is not science fiction. All of this home automation technology exists now. It only requires your lighting, alarm and media to be connected and configured to your needs.

Home Automation Can Include

Home Theatre / Home Cinema Systems
While House advanced lighting control
Energy management systems for heating and cooling
Security systems and alarms
Multi Room Audio, Video and AV Distribution

However, as these advanced home automation systems increase in power and flexibility and ease of use, they can actually become more complex to specify, design and install. This is where a professional home automation installer can help. By working with you and focussing on your needs, your home can be made to suit your lifestyle, not the other way round.

While the individual items of home technology equipment can be fairly straightforward to set up and use, getting equipment from multiple vendors to operate together can be tricky. On top of that, for any form of home automation to be effective, it has to be easy to control, either using traditional remote controls, web-based systems, smartphone apps or wall mounted control panels. Careful programming can mean a single button click can control multiple systems, altering lighting, music, displays and curtains. They can also be set to act based on activity or time based rules – for example turning on the hot water heating system only when they detect a presence in the house.

With the ubiquity of web connectivity, you can now monitor and manage your home systems from anywhere – ideal for holiday homes or even remote outbuildings.

If you are considering home automation make sure you select a system that will allow you to have the home of the future – today!

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Popular Trends in Home Technology

As a former home automation installer and a former manufactures rep, I have observed many trends. The following items are certainly the hotest trends this year in home technology.

VoIP (pronounced Voice over IP) refers to making telephone calls using your high-speed internet connection. This technology is gaining ground very fast, as new users are discovering it is 50-75% cheaper the comparable standard telephone service and congress is standing behind the technology for now, no taxes or legislation to mess it up – yet… The a catch? Several more variables in losing your dial tone: Power outages, internet downtime, and equipment failures are just a few problems you may encounter using VoIP. Also, If you are dropping the standard phone line, and you have a security system you will need a cellular or radio back up for safety reasons.

Retrofit home theaters. With the cost of movie tickets approaching $10, it makes it quite expensive for families to enjoy movies and snacks at the theater. There are new techniques and processes to install a home theater in your existing home. Many of the processes are for noise reduction, so you don’t have harmonic vibrations in the home, or annoy your neighbors. Living in a townhouse, row house, or other multiplex homes, you can now “pump up the volume” with bothering others!

Security Cameras. Many cities now require visual verification prior to dispatching emergency services. Approximately 9 out of 10 alarms are false. Cameras in the home can quickly verify that the alarm is actually triggered by a burglary. In addition, many new parents are now installing cameras to check in on their children while they are away to ensure safety.

Home Offices. Today more and more people telecommute. The reasons may very- but the fact is home offices are now becoming a necessity for many homeowners. Proper planning can provide you with all the technology you need in either a new home or a remodel. If you are ready to start thinking about your custom workspace, keep the following in mind: your personal work style; essential services such as Internet & telephone; and office needs such as printing, wireless networks, file storage and audio distribution.

Lighting Controls. Reliable lighting control used to be reserved for the wealthy. The rest of us were reduced to live without lighting control or the unreliable X-10 technology. In the last few years two new technologies arose. UPB (Universal power line bus) and RF (Z-Wave). These new products have provided us with more selection, more reliability, and the best part-they cost about the same as the major branded X-10 products.

Energy Savings. Recent energy cost have us all looking for ways to reduce the utilities budget in the home. Home Automation is stepping up to the plate. Home automation can manage the thermostat (typically the largest load in the home) based on actual occupancy rather than when you think you will be home. Lighting is the second largest load, home automation will turn off the extra lights when they are not needed. Using motion sensing, occupancy sensing, and other types of lighting controls, home automation can shut the lights off behind you!

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Invest in Equipment to Support Your Home Technology – Satellite TV Deserves That Big Screen

I started out as a satellite TV skeptic. In my estimation, cable television service, with its reliable feed and impressive selection of programming (which far exceeded the selections offered solely on local networks) seemed genuinely more than adequate.

My husband, however, was sincerely convinced (and thus, successfully convincing) in the opinion that satellite television signals delivered vastly superior televised entertainment, with far more reliable consistency, not to mention their infinitely greater assortment of quality channels.

Many of us really don’t have enough of an emotional investment in the hobby of TV watching for such technological debates to warrant any significant degree of discussion, so I readily acquiesced. In no time at all there was a compact satellite installed above the southeast corner of the garage, pointing due south so as to effectively receive all those superior satellite transmissions.

Years went by and the only big change I can honestly admit to noticing was that I wrote a check for a slightly higher amount than I’d previously paid out for cable each month. During the months when the TV package included special sporting feeds, that invoice crept higher. I remained unimpressed.

Amidst regular diatribes on the superiority of satellite television and its positive impact on society in general, I remained respectfully silent. (My grandmother was a great fan of the phrase, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” She was a rather quiet woman). Anyway…

Eventually the day came, five years or so after satellite TV became a regular part of our family, that we invested in a new television. This larger (36 inch) model with its LCD panel and high definition capabilities is entirely a different species from the 19 inch vintage television that had not done justice to the wonders of satellite TV reception.

Suddenly (you have to now imagine the heavens opening and a faint choral hymn resounding from somewhere in the great beyond — possibly the same locale from which satellite television signals originate) I was able to see, clearly and most agreeably, the indisputable quality of satellite television.

Investing in equipment that is able to effectively support and make use of our in-home technology services is of utmost importance. We get the most out of modern technology only when the equipment used in conjunction with the services is as current (or close to it) as the technological capabilities themselves.

Having an up to date television in tandem with satellite TV is astoundingly entertaining. You get more out of the experience of watching films, educational documentaries make you feel as if you’re actually taking part in the adventure, and musical programs, with their increased visual clarity and optimal audio quality, let the viewer appreciate a true concert-like experience. And, as any fan of athletic competitions can tell you, the detail and excitement of sports programming makes you feel almost as if you’ve got front row seats to the real life action.

Upgrading to a quality TV made me a true believer in the beauty of satellite television!

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