New Gadgets for the Home
It’s hard to keep up with all the new products and modifications in the constantly growing area of technology around the home. Here are a few thoughts from Karen Chugg, Managing Director of south west based Intelligent Abodes on some of the great products that have been introduced this year – some perhaps worth considering for Christmas.
Some gadgets for relatively modest budgets
MANAGE YOUR HEATING and SAVE ENERGY
Karen loves the new Nest thermostat – an intuitive heating management system, which replaces the programmer so that heating can be controlled from one place. Karen explains “An intelligent thermostat like the Nest offers superb heating control throughout the winter. It basically learns the temperatures that you like and creates a personalised schedule. The thermostats help you manage heating more effectively too so that you can save on energy too. It may be sophisticated but it won’t break the bank – and with the savings created from clever energy management it won’t be long before it has paid for itself.”
A thermostat like this will also detect if it is very cold outside and will increase the temperature – great for avoiding water pipes freezing!
LIGHTING CONTROL…from your watch
Automated Lighting control has become a popular solution enabling the easy adjustment of lighting to create a mood, especially useful in multi-functional spaces – the Apple watch can allow you to easily change the scene setting without the need to go to a switch!
Karen explains “With the new Apple watch, and an app like Lutron’s home control app, everything in the home can be controlled with great ease whether you are there or away.”
NEW CURVED TVs
Many of the major TV manufacturers have introduced new curved TVs, designed to track the natural shape of eyes, so you feel more immersed in the picture.
Karen says “The first thing I noticed about the TVs , Samsung and LG for example, was the depth of picture and that it felt like 3D. This is because the image on a curved screen exists on multiple depth planes, with a physical foreground and background like a 3D image.”
“The main downside is getting your seating position correct for viewing, so this needs to be taken into consideration when choosing the TV.”
AND IF YOU WANT TO HIDE YOUR TV
With greater demand for clean, contemporary living spaces, people are frequently sourcing discreet entertainment solutions. This has led to the development of some very innovative TV brackets, enabling TVs to be hidden behind artwork or stored in ceiling or wall spaces with discreet motorized brackets or TVs built into cabinets. Karen explains “We love Future Automation’s excellent picture lift mechanisms which allow a flat screen television to be concealed in a recess behind a piece of chosen art work.”
Another popular solution is a TV at the bottom of the bed controlled on a motorized lift from a neat cabinet.
NEAT SOUND SOLUTIONS
New improved soundbars incorporate an array of speakers in one unit that can be neatly mounted underneath the TV, enabling you to have surround sound without the need for cabling or having several speakers strategically placed around the room. Karen expands “There are a great variety of options with Sonance producing an adjustable sound bar so that it can be matched to the size of the TV; Samsung have produced a curved sound bar to match the TVs and Arcam have released the Solo bar for TV and music – all exciting options.”
Some more indulgence gadgets
HOME CONTROL SOLUTIONS
A bit more expensive but Home Control Solutions, such as RTi or Vantage will allow you to control heating, lighting, curtains/blinds, music, TV and security system from your tablet or smart phone, whether home or away – it’s the ultimate in luxury, security, convenience and fun!
Karen adds “Lighting solutions have evolved significantly in the last few years, they can really enhance the living space and support how a space is used. We tend to now want a greater number of lights within one area; for example recessed lighting for functional use, recessed lighting for decorative purposes, LED strips , table lights, floor up-lighting.”
“Changing all these lights can be quite a task to achieve the desired effect! Lighting control systems such as Lutron, RTi or Vantage enable you to have one switch for all the lights, with a selection of scene settings to create the perfect lighting effect to suit the task – cooking, relaxing, entertaining, film watching.”
The control systems also help ensure that everything is turned off when you want it off – this and other features are designed to save energy and money too!
AND FOR MORE HELP CONTROLLING THE LIGHT and TEMPERATURE
Technology in automated blinds and curtains has really improved recently. Karen says “We love installing a good system. Now with near silent motors, and preset to allow adjustments for changing weather conditions, they can all be controlled from a neat control panel or from one switch – keeping walls clean and allowing integrated control.”
“Motorized blind/curtain manufacturers such as Lutron, Somfy and Silent Gliss have designed new, sophisticated materials that effectively control the heat in your home, maintaining warmth in winter and coolness in summer. With a range of styles, they are controlled at the touch of a button – no clutter, no fuss.”
Karen also rates the fact that Lutron guarantees the hem bar alignment of their roller blinds, and their systems allow tiny automatic adjustments to be made to all their blinds – even to the tilt of a wooden Venetian blind!
The blind or curtain control can also be integrated with the lighting systems so that for example, with one button, lights can be turned on and curtains closed to watch a film.
Rain detectors can also be integrated into the blinds or curtain systems that will close motorized windows if it starts to rain while you are out.
Most people have several TVs these days – you can now choose discreet control solutions that will allow every TV to access the viewing sources such as Sky, Apple, Blu-ray and all be housed in one central location – no need to find the space for unattractive black boxes in each room.
Music systems can also be discreetly hidden and accessed in all rooms.
Furniture to complement your technology
With regard to furniture generally Karen has found that people are more focused on contemporary and clean spaces, so, as a home automation company, they are predominantly asked for items that will make things more discreet for example speakers that look like artwork or ones that can be plastered into the wall, TVs or projectors hidden in cabinets, behind artwork or housed in in-ceiling spaces.
On the other hand, she also finds that increasingly people are creating specific rooms where they like their gadgets to be more on display for example home cinema rooms with high tech TV, surround sound and cinema seating – there are some very luxurious options to choose from!
For more information please contact Karen Chugg, Managing Director, Intelligent Abodes www.intelligentabodes.co.uk