There was a time when the term “home automation” conjured images of a friendly robotic maid buzzing around the house, cleaning, doing laundry, and cooking meals.
Humanoid robots have indeed come to pass and may eventually play a role in our lives at home. But the reality of home automation in the 21st Century is quite a bit different than what was envisioned in the post-World War II era. Instead of a robotic hub, home control is centralized in the palm of our hands, thanks to a small yet very powerful device most of us take for granted – the smartphone.
Being able to adjust temperature and lighting, check cameras, and unlock your front door from your smartphone is a wonderful convenience, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg of what you can expect from a professionally designed and installed home automation system.
Off-the-shelf systems targeting do-it-yourselfers and home automation “solutions” offered by cable and phone companies tend to be basic and limited in scope. You might have an app that lets you adjust your thermostat, control a few lights, or unlock the front door, but it will be restricted to one device. Controlling multiple devices requires opening separate apps – one for the thermostat, one for the lights and one for the door.
What’s more, each app/control system is operating on its own island and has no idea what the others are up to.
One of the most compelling aspects of custom home automation is something you can’t achieve with off-the-shelf products: integration.
Sure, it’s nice that you can adjust your thermostat from your iPhone, but wouldn’t it be better if you could “see” and control other devices from the same app? Ideally, you would be able to arm and disarm your security system from the same app that lets you unlock the front door when Uncle Harry shows up on your doorstep while you’re still at work. Now we’re talking smart.
In a custom system, all electronic “subsystems” – HVAC, security, lighting, audio/video, you-name-it – are linked together and controlled by a central processor that knows the status of everything. Which, of course, is the essence of the “connected home.”
The ability to create a custom control interface that is not only intuitive and easy to use but also tailored to your specific needs is another key benefit of custom automation. For example, you could have a series of one-button presets that adjust lighting and turn on suitable music to create specific moods or automatically turn everything in the house off at a specific time. The possibilities are bound only by your imagination.
Professionally designed home automation systems also offer multiple modes of control – wall-mounted keypads, stand-alone touch panels, and handheld remote controls – instead of everything having to be controlled by a smartphone that may not be accessible.
If home automation is on your radar screen, be sure to consult a home technology expert. It could make a world of a difference.
To learn more about home automation, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.