An automated Lutron system controls lighting and shades using one remote or smartphone.
A whole-house system by SmartTouch USA integrates this outdoor entertainment space.
A system by iHome Integration boasts Leon Speakers on either side of the TV for surround sound.

Control Center

Local experts weigh in with a Q&A on the latest in smart-home automation

CHRISTIAN A. VIVES, A.B.E. Networks
What is the most significant new development in smart-home technology?
Near field communication. This wireless technology opens the door to a whole host of proximity-based features and functions that just weren’t practical before. Moving about the home with a phone in your pocket or a wearable device allows the systems to know where you are and adjust to your local environment accordingly. For example, as you enter a room, the lighting turns on to a specific level based on the time of day and the natural light coming in, thereby consuming the minimum amount of energy to keep it at your desired level. As you move from room to room, the light follows you; it can be tailored to each member of the family. Imagine now that we apply HVAC, audio/video and other systems to that same model and the home becomes truly adaptive to each individual.

What are the top 10 features no system should be without?
I would say that the ideal system should include the following 10 components:

  • Solid data network
  • Energy monitoring
  • Automated lighting and shades
  • Remote viewable security cameras
  • Distributed audio and video systems
  • Automated HVAC systems
  • Integrated media servers
  • Intelligent security systems
  • Electronic access control
  • Unified control system to integrate all of the above

EDDIE SHAPIRO, SmartTouch USA
When is the best time during construction or renovation to engage a home-automation company?
For residential renovations, updating a home’s electronic control systems—from security cameras to ultra-accelerated whole-home Wi-Fi and automated window treatments—can optimize, simplify and even beautify interior and exterior spaces. The importance of electronic control systems in homes today really can’t be underestimated. Most of our systems already have multi-room audio with streaming Rhapsody, Pandora, Spotify and iTunes, for example. So it shouldn’t be surprising that timing when to introduce technology into the remodeling process is crucial. The earlier, the better. You want to bring in your technology consultant when you’re sitting down with your architect or builder and talking about what you want to do in terms of renovating. The sooner we are involved, the sooner we can help make important choices and give you ideas that you haven’t even thought of that could really change the outcome.


DAVE NEUMAIER, iHome Integration
What are the most exciting trends in home entertainment?
A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University says home automation is predicted to be the number-two trend in residential remodeling over the next five to 10 years. Home entertainment today is style-driven, with custom-matched speakers, small aperture speakers and invisible speakers creating a seamless look. TVs are getting thinner and even curved. And 4K technology allows for larger theater screens and TVs.

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