The Intelligent Home – Real Estate Magazine

One of our solution architects, Jaryd Raizon, spoke with Jocelyn Warrington of Real Estate Magazine about the intelligent home becoming a vital trend in homes in South Africa.

THE INTELLIGENT HOME

“LOOK OUT, JETSONS… HERE WE FINALLY COME. COMPUTER SCIENTISTS AND INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS ARE WORKING TOGETHER TO DEVELOP NEW TECHNOLOGIES THAT MAKE LIFE AT HOME EASY, EFFICIENT AND ENERGY SAVING” – Jocelyn Warrington

 

For homeowners, the technological revolution heralds the dawn of a golden age of automated ease. But, until now, smart-home technology has lagged behind in Jetsons-like futuristic vision.
‘The driving force behind smart-house technology in its earliest phases has been convenience for the home user,’ says Michael McDonough, an award-winning American architect and industrial designer, and a recognised thought leader in energy efficiency and green-building technology. McDonough explains how smart-house technology ‘came into focus with the advent of the Internet and, while increasingly sophisticated, for the most part [has been] still in its developmental stages’.

Blame it on clunky, hard-to-use systems with sky-high prices that required professional installation and a lot of upkeep, but the absence of an intelligent home on every proverbial street corner is about to become a thing of the past, says Jaryd Raizon, group project manager at Simpletech (simpletech.co.za), a Cape Town home audiovisual, automation, security and networking solutions company. With the advent of smart technology, the fact that owning either a smartphone or a tablet is now the norm, and with 4G set to become the new standard in cellphone networks, smart-home technology is headed straight for the stratosphere, according to Raizon.

Integration companies, like Simpletech, specialise in connected-home services and know what electrical provisions are required in order ensure those services work in perfect symphony with one another. A connected home would be capable, for example, of ensuring that all interior lights are switched off when it’s time to turn in, with, say, certain exterior lights left on for safety reasons; that all curtains are drawn and roller shutters closed; that all entertainment equipment is turned off; and that the house alarm is set to ‘stay’ mode – all at the press on a single button.

Of course, when you start talking HD surveillance, multiroom sound systems, central lighting and temperature control, the rand signs begin to flash. But the perception that smart home technology is largely the domain of the wealthy is no longer an accurate one. ‘What you find is that the major costs in any smart-home solution are actually the sub-systems (the audio systems, security systems, etc), which together can add up to a significant amount. However, the technology that makes these solutions “smart” and “integrated” is really just a layer of control that we place on top and is actually a fraction of the cost of the entire installation,’ explains Raizon. ‘Unfortunately, clients look at the entire project value and think, “Oh my word, home automation is so expensive”, and then they end up paying 80% of the project value anyway for everything else but don’t get the “smart” benefits.’

According to Raizon, a single room in your home (for example, a cinema using a universal remote) can be automated for as little as R25 000. ‘This solution can then be expanded to the entire home over time as and when you can afford it,’ he adds. Raizon emphasises, however, that it is highly recommended to take into account all potential electrical requirements at the very beginning of the building project, even if the homeowner is not necessarily looking to install all the equipment upfront. ‘Seeing smart technology as an add-on or finishing touch is one of the biggest mistakes home builders make, as it can create a bottleneck on the long-term scaling and “future-proofing” of the house, which not only affects your lifestyle but also the resale value of the property,’ he says.

‘When it’s integrated properly, smart-home tech is impossibly user-friendly. A single control panel (touchscreen on the wall) replaces the alarm keypad, intercom, CCTV monitor and audio keypad; a single remote control replaces your TV, DSTV, amplifier, BluRay and Apple TV remote’ – Jaryd Raizon, Solutions Architect, Simpletech

To avoid this, Raizon advises that an electrical reticulation design and conduit schedule be taken care of well in advance: ‘This is usually done once the architects have finalised their plans and before construction of the house even begins.’ But with control panels having to be installed, passwords needing to be logged and protocols having to be learned, how convenient is a smart home really, you ask? Are we not creating yet more things that need to be retrieved from your mental database of never-ending memos?

Raizon is emphatic: ‘It’s quite the reverse. When it’s integrated properly, smart-home tech is impossibly user friendly. A single control panel (touchscreen on the wall) replaces the alarm keypad, intercom, CCTV monitor and audio keypad; a single remote control replaces your TV, DSTV, amplifier, BluRay and Apple TV remote. No additional passwords, no new protocols. If you can press a button, you can operate a smart-home.’

The original article can be downloaded here.