Whenever we meet with new potential clients we are commonly asked these questions. Reviewing our responses will help you understand if cyberManor’s design approach to whole house technology integration fits your family’s short and long term home technology needs.
While a single application total home control solution would seem to be very desirable solution over using multiple applications to control the home – the reality is that this model can actually stifle the innovation of the digital platforms that they control for the purpose of a providing a unified control system. One of the primary appeals of this best of breed hardware/software design model is that these systems rarely need upgrading from a custom electronics integrator or extensive customized programming because the programming and feature updates are provided freely from these manufacturers on an automated basis to the clients’ products and mobile control platforms. Home technology solutions no longer require expensive long term customized programming to maintain and update electronic systems. This is a win for our clients and a win for us. Client satisfaction is extremely high as a result of our integration of reliable, self-upgrading and healing systems. We do not engage in complex control programming projects that are prone to break down against the wave of rapidly changing technology advances in the home.
This fundamental shift in the intelligence and software upgradability of home electronics have set the stage for a consumer expectation that electronic products purchased today should actually improve over time. This new model fosters product loyalty and good will from the homeowner to the manufacturer of the product and the professional integrator that recommends and installs these products. Instead of frustration and disappointment over the decline of a product’s value and functionality over time the reverse is now true – delight that the electronic product purchased yesterday is more useful today at no additional charge and without the need for an upgrade service call.
Each time a company dedicated to providing the best AV or home control platform over time (such as Sonos for whole house music) improves their product platform on iOS and Android control devices they would also need to ensure compatibility of their software and/or hardware enhancements with all of the total home control platform operating systems (or this effort would have to be taken on by the total home control platform or a third party). This effort would deter Sonos’s engineering resources from continuing to improve their own whole house music platform for the significantly larger iOS and Android operating system markets.
Supporting multiple total home control platforms also represents a significant support issue for companies like Sonos when they need to maintain compatibility with an operating system that is not only controlling their system but all of the other digital AV platforms in the home. If a TV doesn’t turn on because the total home control system that manages the TV and the Sonos whole house audio isn’t working properly is it the problem of the total home control platform company or Sonos? Sonos doesn’t want that support issue – nor does cyberManor. We want the best of breed home AV and control products being managed by the software written by the companies that manufacture these products – this gives our clients and us the greatest assurance they will work reliably over the long term – with a minimal amount of costly upgrade programming and service calls.
The answer to this question really depends on the product(s) you want to install. For the core home technology systems that serve your entire house you will usually need a custom home electronics integrator. Whole house lighting control with nearly unlimited lighting fixture support, motorized window shades with an extensive variety of window treatments and fabrics, distributed audio/video with built in high resolution TVs and high fidelity speakers, and high definition indoor and outdoor camera security systems all require professional expertise and planning. All of these systems require extensive whole house prewiring for the reliable distribution of audio, video, and control signals throughout the home from a Centralized Telecom Rack. They also require a robust wired and wireless networking infrastructure to ensure that all of these systems communicate and integrate well with each other and are easily controlled by keypads and mobile devices inside and outside of the home.
If you want to install a single purpose, wireless product such as the iGrill Mini for checking the temperature of your BBQ meat or the Parrot Flower Power for monitoring the water level of your indoor plants – you can probably do this installation yourself. Many of these types of products are available in the Apple Store. These single purpose products represent another benefit of implementing a multiple application strategy for your home – it is relatively easy to add and control these new smart home products from the same mobile phones and tablets that are controlling the subsystems that were professionally installed and integrated into your home.
These company’s products possess at least four of the following key attributes:
A frequent argument for a single home control application is the ability to program interoperability – or automation scenes – between subsystems. For example, one may want to leave their home and arm a security system that will automatically turn off all the lights in the home, lock the front door, and turn down the thermostat without opening up multiple applications to complete this task.
Today, these inter-app automation scenes are now enabled in the cloud or via small home based, app controlled hubs – reducing the need for expensive total home controllers. App interoperability is being addressed by the recent open API initiatives from the largest players in the smart phone and tablet markets – Apple, Google and Samsung. In 2014 Apple launched their HomeKit initiative for home control device interoperability and NEST launched their Works With NEST program. Samsung purchased SmartThings to be the hub of app interoperability for their product line and Flextronix purchased Wink to the be their smart home hub.
However, in our experience we have found that while our clients think they would like to have whole house automation scenes – in reality they rarely use these functions over a long period of time. Most often they use one application for a specific task – such as listening to music, turning up or down a thermostat, or arming a security system. The automated scene that starts when you get out of bed, turns on the music, opens the drapes, turns on the lights, and turns up the thermostat sounds wonderful at first – but over time these scenes lose their luster – especially when they get out of sync, start or stop at the wrong times, or adversely effect other family members who are living in the home.
A more in depth understanding and review of our multiple application best of breed design strategy can be read in the cyberManor White Paper entitled: Digital Platform Strategies for the Connected Home. (see below)
Many of the home technology solutions that we design and install can also be implemented on Android based platforms – but Apple’s leadership and significant mobile platform market share have influenced most AV and home control companies to write their applications for the iOS platform before they embrace the Android platform. In addition, Apple owners upgrade their iOS mobile operating systems more frequently than Android owners, thereby considerably enhancing their SmartHome app experiences over time.
Whether you are building a new home or remodeling an existing home you can review all of our services here. Our cyberManor team looks forward to working with you and your builder team.
All of the products shown in the Experience Center Solution Tab on this website can be seen and experienced at our cyberManor Smart Home Experience Center in Los Gatos. Click here to make an appointment to view these solutions. If you can’t visit our Smart Home Experience Center you can download the interactive cyberManor Smart Home Experience Center Application for the Apple iPad here.