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58 smart-home technology

everyday living space and also a high-specifica- tion 3D home cinema. With home automation, a single touch of a button can cause a projector to descend from the ceiling, a projection screen to gently lower in front of the TV, lights to dim and motorised blinds to close. Within a matter of seconds, the ultimate home cinema environ- ment is created with stunning picture quality and jaw-dropping surround sound.

Performance and aesthetics

In such situations, technical specifications and acoustic treatments to produce the best sound quality and user experience need to be carefully balanced against the aesthetic characteristics of the room. For example, in some projects bespoke cabinetry can be designed to house a retractable cinema screen and front speakers. Here, a tilting mechanism enables speaker adjustment to suit the precise distance to the seats once furniture positions have been finalised, optimising acoustic performance. Speakers can also be hidden behind removable, ‘acoustically-transparent’ fabric panels to minimise visual impact on the room. Home-owners are keen to maximise new

performance opportunities presented by the lat- est smart technology in general but often want to

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have as little on show as possible, minimising ‘wall clutter’ and other impacts on the look of their interiors. That is one reason why it is essen- tial to involve smart homes specialists in building projects from the start. They can then work closely with architects, developers, interior designers and any M&E consultants to optimise integration of the system with the overall build- ing design and performance. This will also ensure that accommodation of the extensive cabling needed, provision of a suitable plant room and minimising visual impact from equipment are all effectively catered for.

New trends

Looking to the future, home automation tech- nology continues to develop apace and two new trends are becoming apparent. Firstly, ‘wearable technology’ apps will enable wrist devices and watches to easily control lights, select music, adjust volume and other actions. Then ‘geofenc- ing’ will allow a smartphone to detect its owner’s location and communicate with the house system, for example to automatically turn up heating an hour before arrival, then turn on external lights and open the gates upon approach and even identify who has arrived and turn on a

TV set to that person’s favourite channel for that time of day.

“Home-owners are keen to maximise new performance opportunities presented by the latest smart technology in general but often want to have as little on show as possible, minimising ‘wall clutter’ and other impacts on the look of their interiors”

With this growing trend towards more

automation and technology, reliability and long- term performance are essential. The necessary racks of AV equipment should be built and tested, and all the wiring looms created in a con- trolled environment off-site. This will minimise the connections and other work on a building site. Wireless networks should be avoided for fixed equipment as they are generally not reliable or fast enough, and suffer from ‘dead spots’ as well as interference from other electrical items. Wireless is usually only suitable for devices that need to be handheld or portable such as remote controls, smartphones and tablets.

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