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cyberManor wins CTA’s Mark of Excellence Award for 2022

January 6, 2022cyberManor wins CTA’s Mark of Excellence Award for 2022

January 6, 2022 – Los Gatos, CA – cyberManor is thrilled to announce that we are the national winner of the Consumer Technology Association’s Mark of Excellence Award for 2022 for our New Home Technology Center. This prestigious award was recognized as a cover story in the Los Gatos Weekly and in the local section of the San Jose Mercury News. The Mark of Excellence Awards, presented by the Smart Home Division of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, recognize the best in custom integration and installed technology. Each year manufacturers, distributors and systems integrators compete in more than 20 award categories for this coveted honor. 
 
cyberManor won this award in the Speciality Project of the Year category. This award recognizes an integrator’s creativity and innovative use of technology to achieve a specific application.  The entry can include sustainable/green energy projects, as well as emerging technologies, including virtual reality / augmented reality, voice control, or advanced systems in audio (i.e., listening technology), video, or security camera technology (i.e., facial recognition, thermal imaging).

cyberManor built our New Home Technology Center home behind our main office in Los Gatos from 2016 to 2021. The home is a 1 bedroom, 1.5 bath loft style, 1,300 square foot townhome with a garage, front and rear yards, and a garden roof deck. This New Home Technology Center (NHTC) was built to emulate the Sunset Idea Homes theme. Sunset Idea homes are built to promote the most innovative building design, interior decorator and exterior landscaping ideas. The company built our Technology Center to promote and showcase best of breed innovative home technology ideas that improve the entertainment, comfort, and security of the homes in which we live. When all the electronic systems are intelligent, connected, and integrated the home can become personalized for the needs of every family member. Each can simply controlled by the sound of one’s voice or the touch of a keypad, phone or tablet.

Here are just a few of the many technology solutions that you can see, touch, control and experience in the cyberManor New Home Technology Center:

  • Intelligent, secure front door access and control station
  • WiFi connected kitchen and laundry room appliances
  • Lighting that dims and tunes to the correct color to match activities and time of day
  • Comfort control with motorized fans, skylights and window shades
  • Hydrotherapy showering system that turns on with voice and a TV that disappears from view behind a bathroom mirror
  • Touch screens that show a live dashboard of the home’s energy consumption, solar photovoltaic panel KWH production, distribution and battery storage.
  • A master bedroom that transforms into a home theater at the touch of a button.
  • A short throw projection screen drops from the ceiling while an ultra short throw projector displays content from Roku or Apple TV streaming box

cyberManor wanted to build a showroom home – not just a showroom. According to Gordon van Zuiden, founder of cyberManor, “We built our experience center home so we could showcase all the technology solutions that we provide our clients and builder partners. Potential customers want to see and experience the latest technology solutions for their front door/gate, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, and the outdoors. Builder partners not only want AV, lighting, shades, and security solutions – but energy and water management, healthy indoor air quality, and enhanced outdoor living and entertainment solutions. Building a showroom home allowed us to best showcase all of those solutions in one location. We also wanted to demonstrate how all of these technologies can easily be controlled by one total home control system (Control4), touchscreens, keypads, mobile apps, and voice.”

“Another overarching objective was to make the home look as beautiful as the homes of our clients – and to make the technology implementation appear to be seamless and aesthetic in accordance with the home’s overall appearance. To meet that objective we hired Celia Boutell, our interior designer to create the look and feel of our home. We also increased our home improvement budget to include top of the line cabinetry, quartz countertops, hardwood ceilings/floors, and dramatic tiling for the floors and walls in the master bathroom.”

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cyberManor’s Control4/Josh.ai Experience Center is Now Available on AirB&B

April 26, 2021cyberManor’s Control4/Josh.ai Experience Center is Now Available on AirB&B

LOS GATOS, CA – April 26, 2021 cyberManor announced today that its’ New Home Technology Experience Center (NHTC), in the heart of Silicon Valley, can now be rented on AirB&B or toured as a Smart Home Experience on AirB&B. After a very successful launch of the AirB&B site to initial renters of the home in April cyberManor has decided to continue this rental offering through the rest of 2021 and 2022. Guests of the home experience first hand a residence fully controlled by Control4 enhanced by Josh’s voice assistance. When first entering the home a guest can simply announce, “OK Josh, Im Home” and the lights turn on, music plays softly in the kitchen, the TV turns on, motorized shades rise, the heating system turns on, the skylights open, and even the backyard fountain turns on. With four easy words the power of an integrated Control4 home comes to life. Our guest’s stay is simply smarter with Josh and Control4 working together. We call it a Talk, Touch, Push, Point, home control experience. Even the new Apple Watch can control our Control4 Certified home!

The home is also a showcase for the latest in motorized short throw projection and screen technology. In the master bedroom a Screen Innovations 90” screen drops from the ceiling and an LG 4K high resolution ultra short throw projector provides a movie theater experience from the comfort and luxury of a high tech bed from Bryte Bed. The adjoining master bathroom features the latest hydrotherapy shower experience from Kohler, heated flooring and towel bar, and even an Electric Mirror disappearing TV located behind the large vanity mirror where one can catch up on the latest news, personal calendar, or local traffic conditions.

The home also features the latest in energy management technology. The 12 solar panels on the roof generate enough power in the summer to fulfill the home’s energy requirements during the day with the excess solar energy stored in a Sonnen battery that is used to meet the evening’s electrical consumption needs. The battery also ensures that the home has power even when the electrical grid goes down.

You can tour the smart home experience center by clicking on the following interactive 3D video below:

According to Gordon van Zuiden, founder of cyberManor, “We completed our Control4 Certified New Home Technology Center home in December of 2020 – just after COVID-19 pandemic struck and shut down all of our in person showroom tours. So we pivoted and did a number of successful virtual tours of the showroom for our residential clients, builders, and vendor partners. We still do those virtual tours but now we’ve decided that the ultimate high tech home experience is to actually live in our New Home Technology Center for several days to gain an immersive experience of all the home’s smart technologies. We opened the home to AirB&B guests in April and the success and enjoyment of our initial guest experiences went far beyond our expectations so we will be continue this rental program through the end of summer. It will be open not only to guests traveling to Los Gatos but also to key potential clients that want to live in a Control4 certified home for a few days to help them make a final decision on using Control4 and cyberManor for their new home or upgrade project.”

Gordon went on to explain, “Once we are allowed to open the showroom home to larger groups of guests we plan to hold informational events on the latest home technologies for our builder partners as well as create an AirBnB experience where guests can visit the home for an hour or two to get a better understanding of the wide range of smart home technology experiences in the home. Before COVID hit last year and during construction of the home we did a large AirBnB experience tour for a large group of builders from South America where they learned how they could best integrate the smart home experiences they saw at cyberManor into the homes they were building in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.”

Alma, one of the New Home Technology’s first guests wrote in her AirB&B review,

“If you’re looking to take a step into the future of smart home technology all the while maintaining the coziness of a family member’s guest home then look no further than this Home Technology Experience Center townhome! The accommodation is a luxurious yet cozy smart home that features a fully integrated Control4 system that allows you to control everything from lighting, shades, and even music from panels mounted on the walls! With all of the amazing features, the house itself became the main attraction of our entire trip. In addition to the amazing technology the house is also a beautifully designed yet warm space. This high-tech paradise is an amazing find that I can’t recommend highly enough.”

Learn more about staying at the cyberManor NHTC AirB&B, or contact Gordon van Zuiden.

About cyberManor:

cyberManor’s mission is to design, install, and integrate Internet-empowered home networking solutions that enhance the entertainment, communications, and comfort of their client’s homes. Since 1999 cyberManor has designed and installed integrated home technology solutions for more than 2000 of the finest homes in the San Francisco Bay Area, including 4 Sunset Idea Homes, HP’s Digital Showcase home, and CE Pro’s LEED Platinum home of the year. In 2020 cyberManor completed their Control4 New Home Technology Experience Center which was honored by CE Pro Magazine as one of the top 2 experience center showrooms in the United States.

About Control4:

Control4 is a leading provider of automation and networking systems for homes and businesses, offering a personalized and unified smart home system to automate and control connected devices including lighting, audio, video, climate control, intercom, and security. Founded in 2003 Control4 debuted at the 2004 CEDIA Expo home technology trade show and released its first products later that year, as an early entrant in the home automation market. Over 15 years later, the Control4 operating system now interoperates with approximately 14,000 third-party products, is available in over 100 countries, currently runs in around 400,000 homes, and orchestrates more than 15 million connected devices worldwide.

About Josh.ai:

Headquartered in Denver with offices in L.A., Josh.ai is the product of serial entrepreneurs Alex Capecelatro, CEO, and Tim Gill, CTO. Like Siri or Google Now, the Josh programming language is built to support natural language voice commands. This includes greetings, questions, instructions, and more. Further, Josh is built to control and connect any “smart” device, from any device. For example, with Josh you can turn on your speakers from your watch, change the temperature from your phone, shut off the lights from your desktop, etc. Initially, Josh will be focused on the smart home, but over time they envision a more general-purpose AI. Josh will go where you go, making your life easier and more productive.

About AirB&B:

Airbnb was born in 2007 when two Hosts welcomed three guests to their San Francisco home, and has since grown to 4 million Hosts who have welcomed over 800 million guest arrivals in almost every country across the globe. Every day, Hosts offer one-of-a-kind stays and unique Experiences that make it possible for guests to experience the world in a more authentic, connected way.

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cyberManor Opens Control4 Certified New Home Technology Center

December 1, 2020cyberManor Opens Control4 Certified New Home Technology Center

cyberManor Unveils Control4 Certified New Home Technology Center

Los Gatos, CA – December 1, 2020 – (9AM) – cyberManor, Inc. is pleased to unveil its new Control4 Certified New Home Technology Center, located at 610 University Avenue, Los Gatos, CA. cyberManor, Inc. has been in business for over 20 years, focusing on providing home automation, entertainment, comfort, and security systems to Silicon Valley homeowners. Our customers seek out the latest home technologies, and we design each system to suit their current needs and smart home features they may want to add to their homes in the future.

cyberManor New Home Technology Center from Gordon van Zuiden on Vimeo.

Our new showroom home is designed to give local Silicon Valley homeowners, builders, architects, and designers the opportunity to experience a Control4 Smart Home in a real home environment. This Control4 Certified Showroom home demonstrates the wide range of possibilities in a smart home system, from a one-room entertainment solution that controls everything in the family room to a whole house Control4 system that includes lighting, temperature control, multi-room audio, shade control and much more. cyberManor’s new showroom home is a powerful way of educating consumers through personalized and engaging home automation experiences.

“Upon entering our showroom home visitors can interact with different aspects of a Control4 Smart Home. We have actually built a new 1 bedroom, 1.5 bath townhouse that realistically depicts the full range of Control4’s smart home benefits in a fully functioning home. Our goal is for them to be inspired and envision similar experiences being incorporated into their own homes or projects” said Gordon van Zuiden, President, cyberManor, Inc.

“We are thrilled that cyberManor has opened a Control4 Certified Showroom in Los Gatos, CA. Our dealers are passionate about what they do, and they value being able to educate and guide their consumers to reach their ideal smart home installation experience from start to finish,” said Bryce Judd, SVP Sales at Control4. “Because cyberManor offers an immersive showroom experience, homeowners in their area get the opportunity to really engage with their dealer and gain a deeper understanding of the smart home experience.”

Customers today have higher-than-ever expectations when they walk into a showroom; they are seeking a purposeful, personalized, and educational retail experience. They need to see, touch, feel and compare in person, to properly evaluate products and make a confident decision in their purchases. A brick-and mortar location provides the storytelling, interactivity, and lifestyle demonstrations that allow homeowners to take control of their technology by test-driving everything from lighting control to entertainment.

Control4 Certified Showrooms reflect a significant investment by premier Control4 Certified Dealers who are passionate about Control4 brands. cyberManor’s showroom showcases a range of lifestyle demonstrations including:

  • • One-room Entertainment
  • • Whole House Smart Lighting
  • • Motorized Window and Skylight Shade Control
  • • Multi-room Audio and Video
  • • Camera Security
  • • Comfort
  • • Voice Control
  • • Networking

DESCRIPTIVE TOUR OF THE CONTROL4 CERTIFIED SMART HOME

The first technology you discover when you tour the home is the beautiful brass Control4 entry station at the front door that provides a ring notification that someone is at the front door to all the touchscreens in the home as well as mobile devices outside of the home. A camera at this front door entry station allows anyone inside the home or with a remote phone to see and talk to the person at the door. An electronic keypad wirelessly connected to a Baldwin Evolve intelligent door lock allows the homeowner to assign time dependent access codes for entry into the home entering their home, eliminating the need for a physical key.

Once you walk into the home, a simple voice command saying “Okay Josh, I’m home” or “Alexa, I’m home” will turn on the living room and kitchen lights, open the living room shade and kitchen curtain, turn on the music to a preferred listening station, turn the heating or air conditioning system on if needed, and turn off the security system. From the 10” Control4 touchscreen flush mounted near the front door you can easily close the garage door, turn on the landscaping lights and fountain, start the irrigation system, or view the performance of the home’s solar backup sonnen battery system.

In this solar powered intelligent home if the interior summer temperature is above 75 degrees the Velux skylights automatically open and the Haiku smart ceiling fan turns on to provide convection cooling prior to turning on the more energy intensive AC system, thereby preserving and extending the sonnen solar battery life. The home’s energy management system is even intelligent enough to know that if the local weather forecast predicts cloudy days ahead the battery should be charged during the lower electrical rate off peak hours so that inexpensive stored electricity is available to the home during the more expensive daytime hours. The home also has installed Schneider Electric smart circuit breakers that can intelligently turn off and on circuits in the home during power outages – further extending the life of the battery for all the electrical needs of the home.

Walk into the kitchen from the living room and the latest connected kitchen technology solutions from Bosch and Thermador are on display. The coffee machine can deliver up to 8 personalized beverages so family members and houseguests can program their own favorite drinks—from a single shot espresso, to tea, to extra-large cappuccinos. These drinks can be initiated by voice command for the ultimate ease of use coffee making experience. The Thermador oven can also be turned on to a specific temperature by voice command or even from a Josh.ai total home control portal on a Tesla touchscreen on your way home.

Walk upstairs and along the wall you will find the latest solution in digital picture frames from Meural, a Netgear company. Images of family photos and vacation trips can be scheduled and programmed to display on these high resolution picture frames at anytime of day or night. When you leave the home, or when it is dark, these digital screens automatically fade to black.

Upstairs in the master bedroom an 85” motorized short throw screen from Screen Innovations drops down from the vaulted ceiling for an immersive TV and movie viewing experience projected from an LG Cinebeam short throw projector. When the master bedroom C4 Neeo handheld remote control Watch mode is turned off the screen retracts into the ceiling when not in use to restore the open feel of the master bedroom loft space.

In the morning you can push a Fibaro Zwave connected button sitting on the nightstand that invokes an “I’m awake” scene that raises the master bathroom shades, turns on the desired music and the flat screen LCD computer hidden behind the Electric Mirror to current news or local weather information, and even starts the Kohler Intelligent shower to the homeowner’s preferred shower temperature and spa setting.

The home was built so that a visitor can not only see the design and beauty of these integrated home technologies working seamlessly together but also understand what is required to make all these solutions work by “looking under the hood”. Tours of the home include the mechanical room where the home’s centralized lighting panel, networking wiring and hardware, solar battery/inverter, and master bathroom shower controls are located. Inside the family room an AV rack can be pulled out and rotated to show how all the home’s AV gear is custom installed and connected.

The New Home Technology Center investment is the centerpiece and culmination of cyberManor’s 20+ years of expertise designing and installing home technology solutions for clients in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was designed to be educational for our clients, builder partners, and vendors and serves as a working lab to prove and test the integration of the best of breed manufacturers that we recommend and install in our clients’ homes every day.

This new Control4 Certified showroom home is open by personal appointment or virtual tour Monday through Friday from 9AM to 5PM. Click here to see a recorded video of our last virtual showroom tour. The showroom home is available for individual as well as group tours. To book an appointment please email Shannon Evaristo at sevaristo@cybermanor.com or call us at 408-399-3331.

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cyberManor Provides Amazon Echo Consulting Services for Brookfield Residential Smart Model Home

February 2, 2017cyberManor Provides Amazon Echo Consulting Services for Brookfield Residential Smart Model Home

cyberManor entered into an agreement with Brookfield Residential last year to provide the Discovery, Consulting, and Design/Engineering for the Avendale Alexa Enabled Model home in Bristow, Virginia.

In the discovery phase cyberManor discussed business model ideas (i.e. good, better, best packages), Brookfield Residential’s current partnerships/strategic relationships, hardware/software/platform likes/dislikes, physical constraints, budget, network preferences, etc. Based on the results of the discovery phase cyberManor started the process of recommending platform(s), endpoint devices, realistic expectation setting, and draft scenarios based on currently available skills/hardware/software.

cyberManor followed up with the design/engineering phase of the project where we prepared system drawings and documentation based on the above-agreed direction. When the design/engineering documents were completed they were given to Energy Squad who provided the local integration of this project. cyberManor continued to provide remote support to Energy Squad during the install and setup phases.

We are excited to announce that the Alexa Enabled Model Smart Home had its great opening on February 2nd. View details on our Brookfield Residential Smart Home Open House.

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Voice – Rapidly Becoming the Home’s Primary User Interface

June 17, 2016Voice - Rapidly Becoming the Home's Primary User Interface

At the recent May Connections Conference in San Francisco I listened to Amazon’s David Isbitiski deliver a keynote talk on Accelerating Smart Home Adoption through Voice Control and Alexa.

Amazon Echo Can Control Your Home Using Voice Control

The main point of his talk was that voice control is breaking into the smart home market in a big way. Using voice as a device and application interface enables customers to interact with smart home devices in a more intuitive way than touch screen controls. David called this the dawn of the post-app era of consumer engagement. A couple of days after David gave his keynote talk Michael Wolf blogged in his Next Market website that the epicenter of new technology innovation has moved beyond mobile devices such as smartphones to the things and systems that surround us. This shift is bringing new interfaces which to access those things, and the AI and machine learning layers are being built into and around those things.

Mike goes on to say that Amazon saw the opportunity to layer voice into a device designed for the home, with important feature sets like advanced far-field listening capabilities. They also saw voice as the right interface to tap into a fairly open AI development platform in Alexa, with which they’ve actively been fostering a rapidly growing ecosystem of developers to build out the Skills library.

“Amazon has started to do with it’s voice and AI platform what Apple did with its apps. Apple helped us all think differently about apps and let us see the potential, and now Amazon is doing the same with voice and AI. The Alexa Skills marketplace is really just the first scaled app store for voice and AI.”

In my opinion that last sentence says it all. The overwhelming success of the Apple iOS platform is courtesy of all the developers that have enhanced the smart phone and tablets to do the thousands of tasks that we use everyday – and iOS based home control apps are critical to the success of almost all of the home solutions that custom integrators support. When Apple launched their app based iPad in 2010 it almost overnight become the de facto touch screen for home control – replacing the proprietary non-app based touch screens our industry had been deploying from the total home control companies. Today we are witnessing the same paradigm shift in primary user control preferences away from app based touch screens to voice becoming the primary user interface. But voice control has been around for a long time – so why now? – and why is it happening so quickly?

The Amazon Echo product launched in the summer of 2015 (developed inside its Lab126 offices in Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Mass. since at least 2010) has been a critical factor in the success of voice for home control. There are several key design factors that have contributed to its tremendous success, specifically:

  • It is always on and ready to listen to a voice command. No need to open an app or turn on a device – Amazon Alexa is always listening and ready to respond to a command.
  • Far field listening capabilities. This is more than just hype – Alexa can easily hear your commands from across the room. This is not push to talk – this is a very intuitive talk to talk.
  • Low latency response times. It is critical that Alexa be able to process home control requests quickly and accurately. Amazon has spent considerable R&D resources to make sure that requests that Alexa makes to its Amazon Web Services cloud are handled quickly and reliably.
  • A rapidly growing range of skill sets. This is the voice based skills store that Amazon has created. We have already seen the NEST thermostat, Lutron’s Caseta lighting, Simple Control for AV remote control, and Rachio’s sprinkler controls added to this rapidly growing list of Alexa skills. Expect those voice based control skills to be added to many of the manufacturers that we sell and support in our channel in the very near future.
  • Accurate speech recognition – while the AI speech recognition of Alexa is not perfect it is very, very good. And it can learn your speech patterns to improve it’s performance.

For all the benefits of voice control in the home there are still some significant limitations. In the ideal world the syntax of voice control would be as simple as being in the kitchen and saying “turn on the lights”. But in today’s far field listening world of Amazon Echo we still need to use the following command “Alexa, tell Lutron to turn on the lights in the kitchen”. Not exactly as intuitive as “turn on the lights” if we have to first give a name, than the manufacturer’s product name, and then the zone we are in. When I want to turn on the Rachio sprinklers by voice I have to say “Alexa, tell Rachio to turn Zone 3 on for 5 minutes”. Most of our clients would not know they have a Rachio IP based sprinkler system or what Zone 3 is referring to. Ideally we would be outside in the yard – see that the roses need water and say “water the roses for 5 minutes”.

But all of these limitations are being worked on. Josh.ai, for example, eliminates the need to start a command with Alexa (but natively uses a push to talk listening technique – not as versatile as far field listening). Additionally, Simple Control and Josh.ai (which will be launching later this summer), now have Echo supported voice enabled control for Lutron RadioRA2 and Sonos. Josh.ai will allow you to say multiple commands at once, such as saying “Turn off the lights in the kitchen, lower the shades in the living room, and play Adele throughout the house” all in one command. Amazon is also working on tying room information to the Amazon Echo microphones that we place around the home so that a command heard from the kitchen based Amazon Echo would assume the command was for a kitchen based action unless told otherwise.

There are other issues with voice based control as well. We wouldn’t want just anyone to say “Alexa, open the front door” and if other family members are trying to rest then using your voice to wake up Alexa would probably wake your other family members. And why would you use voice control to look at your security cameras when you need a screen in your hand to view them – you may as well use the app to initiate this action. Additionally, with the Amazon Echo implementation of voice control from the cloud – if your Internet is down so is your home control. There will still be a need for the brains of our home control systems to reside in the home for the foreseeable future. Their services will be mirrored to the cloud but not exclusively reside in the cloud. For all of these reasons, and probably many more, the screen based app world with local home control processing that we live in now is not going away soon. Nevertheless, touch screens will no longer be the primary user interface that we use in the home – it will be voice.

To date, the Amazon Echo product has over 37,000 reviews on the Amazon store and 1/3 of them have the word “love” in the review. How many of our clients “love” the products that we install for them? With this level of emotion attached to a technology product we have to be aware of its impact to our industry.

Are you prepared to provide the answers and the solutions for your clients when they ask what about voice control for their home?

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