Showing posts from October, 2014

Home theaters grow in popularity

These days, home theaters are the family rooms, and money can buy you all the amenities, including surround sound, subwoofers and popcorn makers. “Everybody isn’t off in their own spot, doing their own thing. We are all together,” says Amy Maskil, Terry’s wife. Sales of extra-large televisions have multiplied in recent years. Read more:

Nest acquires Revolv in a bid to control your entire smart home

Nest has just acquired Boulder, CO-based Revolv, one of the most flexible smart home platforms on the market. It's a big move in the growing smart home market, which has two main battles: the individual devices and the platform they run on to make our homes smarter. Nest, with its popular smart thermostat and smoke detector, is in a strong position in the first category. Buying Revolv (and the team behind it) positions it strongly in the second. Terms of the deal aren't being disclosed, but the Revolv team will stay in Boulder in a new Nest office there. Read more:

First It Was Smartphones, Now It’s Smart Homes

The natural progression of this, then, would be the computerized home — which integrates all of these devices into a single platform. In other words, a smart home. A smart home can mean different things to different people. In general though, they all incorporate some form of integration of their various systems, allowing homeowners more control over their home, even while away. Certain homebuilders throughout the country are attempting to get ahead of the curve by offering new homes with smart features either as standard or as an option. What does a typical smart home contain? Some of these homes are designed to just make life easier for the homeowner. Pepper Viner Homes is offering new homes with built in Wi-Fi, which will let homeowners control audio systems, thermostats, lighting, and security, all from an iPad mini. This should be seen as just the tip of the iceberg for what smart homes are capable of. Read more:

Integrated systems allow for control of home gadgetry by smartphone

Luxury high-end homes have many beautiful and sensual features, including exotic woods, illuminated glass, sculpted stonework, soothing water, aromatic landscapes, decorative art and scenic views. However, some of a luxury home’s more elaborate features are invisible and operate quietly in the background to subtly shape the living space. Welcome to the brave new world of smart electronic ecosystems that can anticipate and envelop you, wherever you choose to go. Several established service providers have led the development of home automation over the last decade, including Crestron, Control4, AMX, Extron, Vantage Controls and Lutron Electronics. Read more:

Wireless technology takes the hassle out of home automation

“You’re going to totally love this,” the electrician said as he pulled speaker wires through my wall. “Totally plug-and-play. Once I set it up, you never have to reboot or refresh the device, and you control it with your iPhone.” The device was the music system called Sonos, and while the electrician was sincere, I remained skeptical. Has there ever been an Internet- or remote-controlled appliance that was maintenance-free? I’ve had satellite and cable television before, you know. (Never, ever hide a DVR behind a wall.) Read more:

Homearama house takes "smart home" tech to extreme

Imagine walking into your home after a long day at work and, with a few taps of your finger, transforming your domicile exactly as you please for your evening’s plans. Whether it’s the lighting or music for a dinner party with two dozen guests, an intimate cocktail party for four or just a quiet night relaxing at home with family, you can tap an in-wall touch screen in your foyer or great room, and your preset desires will instantly set the mood. Read more:

Four Trends Changing Consumer Culture

Consumers will continue to demand greater functionality in the form of synced devices such as wearable technology and smart home appliances. Mintel’s trends analysts Stacy Glasgow and Jenny Zegler point out in the report that synced devices will begin to go mainstream. “We’ll see smart devices advancing into new annexes,” Glasgow said. Wearable technology will provide not only the “convenience of connectivity” but provide personal devices “that are secure and fashionable,” Glasgow said. “Style matters in the smart home, too, where systems will go beyond economizing utilities by embracing ambience and blending in with the décor, such as Philips ‘Hue’ LED lighting systems and iPhone fragrance diffusers.” Read more:

5 trends coming to the smart home in 2015

The future of the connected home is continuing to evolve, and with more startups pitching products, the ship date of older crowdfunding campaigns hitting customer homes and big name companies warming to the space, I’m starting to see a few trends come together for 2015. I’m sure we’ll see more at CES in January, but based on conversations I’ve had and products I saw at our Structure Connect show last week, here are a few things you can expect on the connected home front. Read more:

Should You Inuslate Your Home Theater?

Acoustics are an area that gets a lot of attention in the world of home theater and with good reason. A poorly designed room can make an incredible audio system sound terrible. But is it worth using insulation to dampen the sound coming from your home theater? There are several factors you should consider when deciding whether or not to spend the money on insulating your home theater from the rest of your house. First and foremost is the location of the room itself. Many home theaters end up in basements. This is a big advantage since it only requires you to insulate the ceilings and walls.

What Everyone's Getting Wrong About Home Automation

First and foremost, I think the ultimate goal for HA is "automation." So pulling out my phone to do everything is unacceptable, but so is for the most part using my TV to control my lights (or a box connected to my TV). I want my house to respond to me, my family, and our movements/actions. I don't want to have to tell it what to do. Perhaps a Nest style "learning" system would be ok as a "starter" for people, but ultimately the goal is to not interfere with it unless there is a special need to (in which case wall switches should be acceptable overrides). This is why I don't normally use "smart bulbs" except in lamps or where I can use a scene controller on a wall to control them. I don't always carry my phone or tablet and to have to pull one out to turn on a light is dumb in my opinion.

Almost Home-Automation Nirvana

More and more everyday devices are becoming networkable: Smoke alarms, coffee makers, refrigerators, thermostats, door locks, window shades, garage doors, security cameras, lights, air conditioners, and on and on. The industry has somehow settled on what must be the most awkward, imprecise, idiotic name for this trend ever: “the Internet of Things.” Why is that name so dumb? For starters, the things don’t make an Internet. Many of them can’t even get on the Internet; they’re just networkable within your house or controllable by your phone. Read more:

4 hubs to consider to run your home automation system

The term “home automation system” is a lot like the word “groceries.” It’s a mixed bag that depends on your tastes and what you need to accomplish when you get home. What most systems have in common is a hub, a small box that contains the system’s brain. It works with a smartphone or other device to give you remote control and monitoring. From there, you shop for the system that gives you the features you want – a few or many. These smart home hubs promise to bring a little gravity to your connected universe. Read more:

Over-The-Top Home Theaters Make A Comeback

Home theaters, which took a definite hit during the recession, are rising in popularity for the first time since the economic downturn. In 2007, 23.8% of residential architects surveyed by the American Institute of Architects described them as the most popular special function room among their clients. Their popularity steadily declined until 2013, when only 4.1% of architects said they were popular. This year, they’ve rebounded, with 6.2% of architects rating them as important. “On net people say that’s declining in popularity,” says Kermit Baker, the AIA’s chief economist. “But there’s a subset who say ‘For my audience, that’s really critical: Number one on the list.’” Read more:

Would a Home Theatre Increase the Value of My Home?

“Absolutely,” said Karen Benvenuto, an associate real estate broker with Brown Harris Stevens in East Hampton, N.Y. “We are seeing a lot of new construction that includes home theaters as a feature, because that’s what the public is looking for.” This is part of the larger trend of putting various sorts of high-end spaces in finished basements. “It’s no longer just a basement,” Ms. Benvenuto said. “Sometimes you’ll see a wine room, a gym or a spa.” Read more: