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cyberManor Opens Control4 Certified New Home Technology Center

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

cyberManor Unveils Control4 Certified New Home Technology Center

Los Gatos, CA – May 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 an experiential environment. The Certified Showroom home demonstrates the wide range of possibilities of a smart home system, from a one-room entertainment solution that controls everything in the family room, or a system that spans the whole house to include lighting, temperature control, multi-room audio, shade control and more. cyberManor’s new showroom home is a powerful way of drawing in 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

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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Smart Home Magazine – Inaugural Issue

March 15, 2016Smart Home Magazine - Inaugural Issue

We are very excited to launch our SMART HOME MAGAZINE. The goal of this magazine is to help our clients and builder partners better understand the connected home technologies that are available to enrich the way you live, work and play in your home using existing smart phones, tablets, smart watches or TVs.

The solutions and columns in this magazine are based on cyberManor’s experience with these app based solutions for the hundreds of clients that we have served for over the last twenty years. Our featured column showcases what we believe are the best of breed whole house audio, TV and movies, comfort and well being, security and access control solutions for the home. These are not total home control systems that require extensive and ongoing customized programming. They are systems and solutions that have a proven history of reliability, ease of use, and innovation to provide exceptional whole house audio, TV, lighting control, and security experiences. We also review the importance of planning and construction documentation for home technology solutions. At our new cyberManor Home Technology Center we will be reviewing the best of these new technologies and upgrading our own showroom home to give existing and potential clients the opportunity to experience these new entertainment, comfort, and security solutions.

It’s a very exciting time to be involved in home technology. We hope this issue of our SMART HOME MAGAZINE gives you some great new ideas on how to use these innovative app based products and solutions to enhance your new or existing home.

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Almost a century ago General Electric sent a magazine called the The HOME of a HUNDRED COMFORTS (as shown below) to homeowners in the 1920’s to describe the benefits of a well planned, whole house electrical wiring infrastructure for the early 20th century smart, modern home.

Today we discuss the benefits of a properly planned low voltage wiring infrastructure, one that allows networked devices to connect to a high speed network backbone and the internet cloud. Once again history repeats itself – but now whole house low voltage structured wiring is critically important in today’s smart, modern home. cyberManor’s one room schoolhouse (which in the 1920’s displayed the best of high voltage electronic solutions) is now a live showroom for the modern conveniences provided by networked low voltage products and solutions – we call it our 21st century HOME of a HUNDRED NETWORKED COMFORTS!

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Apps Control It All In Cybermanor Smart Home

June 23, 2015Apps Control It All In Cybermanor Smart Home

This column appeared in the San Jose Mercury News and the Los Gatos Weekly in January, 2015. The article gives a very good overview of cyberManor’s products and services and our “Tours by Appointment” SmartHome Experience Center in Los Gatos, California. Apps-Control-It-All-Article

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