The Techno-Savvy Home
The home of the future has arrived, and what a joy it is. However, it’s probably best to use the services of a specialist, like Elite Technologies, when it comes to installation and backup.
Just after television was launched in South Africa, the video machine made its appearance. For many people who did not know much about audio-visual equipment, figuring out all the connections and wiring, and tuning the equipment so that the television interfaced with the video machine, became a nightmare. It required a lot of patience!
Technology has come a long way since then and electronic devices can do so much more nowadays. You can automate the entire home and have lots of equipment interface not only with the TV, but with each other, using a tablet, a smartphone or a laptop for control.
The main reasons for automating the home are the need to save energy and to use the home to enhance the family’s lifestyle.
THE MODERN HOME
Anyone building a house today is forced to incorporate at least some energy-saving elements due to the changes in building regulations. However, one can improve on the basic requirements and take energy saving to the next level by incorporating home automation throughout the house and, for that matter, extend it to incorporate the entire property.
Imagine a home where each room has different music playing from a centralised system, where each television set can play a different movie at the same time, where mood lighting can be changed even out on the patio, where your security system can be controlled from anywhere in the world, where the home theatre is the family’s favourite gathering place and where energy efficiency is optimised. You’ve just entered the modern home.
Let’s start with the essentials – energy saving. How does home automation help you save electricity? In the first place, climate control for the house can consume a lot of energy unless it is effectively regulated. With an automated system, heating and cooling can be programmed to be turned off in rooms that are not currently in use. In winter, the heating can be programmed to turn on an hour before everyone rises, turn off once everyone has left the house, turn back on before the family arrives back home and turn off again once everyone has gone to bed.
Lighting can be controlled in a similar way. What’s more, lighting can be set to run at only 80% or 90% strength, to lower energy consumption still further.
Outside, the irrigation system and the pool pump can be regulated for optimum efficiency, too.
This is the exciting part of home automation. Having a happy home is all about setting the mood – or moods, if one has teenagers.
The automation can be programmed so that, in the morning, the lights are turned on and a pre-programmed selection of music plays. In fact, using the Internet, with storage in the cloud, each member of the family can create their own music library and have it playing in designated areas of the house. Online radio stations can also be selected. Some radio stations’ broadcasts are not interrupted by adverts, so one can listen to a particular genre of music, uninterrupted, throughout the day, broadcast from anywhere on the planet.
In a similar way, movies can be selected for each member of the family. One may choose to have cartoons showing in the Pyjama Lounge, music videos showing in the Games Room and a Cooking Channel in the kitchen.
Piped music can even be extended to the patio and outdoor braai area, with speakers disguised as pot plants, artificial rocks or an old tree stump; even underwater in the swimming pool.
When one designs and decorates a new home, there may be a lot of valuable furniture, artwork and equipment that need to be protected. An automated home security system encompasses the use of CCTV cameras, motion sensors, automated locking systems and, if necessary, automated roller shutters that can be activated to ensure greater security for designated areas.
Remote control of the security system allows one to designate certain areas of the home as no-go zones – so, for instance, if one is expecting repairmen or a service provider to do work at the house, they will only be allowed in the areas where they need to work. If intrusion in another area is detected, one is notified. If one is not able to respond to the notification, the system notifies the security company.
This deserves its own section, because there is so much more to a home theatre. Firstly, the design of the room should be considered. Will it also be used for gaming, or just for home movies? The acoustic treatment of the room includes treatment of the walls, flooring and ceiling. Furniture needs to be selected or custom-made for comfort. Lighting with a dimming capability and air-conditioning need to be added.
The most important part, of course, is the equipment. An LED screen is a popular home theatre choice and its size will be determined by the theatre size and capacity. Speakers will either be large freestanding ones or smaller ones combined with speakers mounted in the ceiling.
Now all one has to do is dim the lights, sit back and prepare for action!
Another facet of the latest automation technology is video conferencing. Whether installed in the home or at the office, video conferencing systems have so many features nowadays. Lighting can be set at different levels, depending on what is being screened. Audio-visual discussions can be held with people located in other cities or countries around the world. And in the room, an advanced high-definition camera can pan to whomever is speaking just by detecting the direction of the voice.
This type of system is excellent for managing a team, such as a sales force. A sales representative can be sitting at the airport waiting for a flight and someone can have a quick strategy discussion with them and get feedback on sales and customer service before they board their flight.
MORE EXCITING VALUE-ADDING FEATURES
Where does one start? Weather updates, stocks and shares prices, a live feed from a watering hole at the Kruger Park, a messaging service for each member of the family… there are so many extras that one can add to enhance one’s life experiences.
All the equipment is housed in a central server unit with control through a tablet, which, when it is not in use, is place on a docking station to keep the battery charged. No clutter, no figuring out which remote is for which device and no dealing with multiple service providers. Just one service provider with multiple capabilities.
MORE ABOUT ELITE TECHNOLOGIES
Jonathan Blackburn started Elite Technologies in 2006. He has worked in the audio-visual sector both locally and overseas before starting Elite Technologies. He also worked at Harrods and Bang & Olufsen in the UK. “With the staff at Elite Technologies, there’s 40 years’ combined experience and we either have an expert, or access to an expert, in every field related to home and office automation,” he says.