Once looked upon with suspicion and even fear (who can forget the showdown between HAL 9000 and Dave in the seminal sci-fi classic “2001: A Space Odyssey”), now AI is at our fingertips and in our walls, floors, televisions, security systems and even in our refrigerators. Advances in technology have not only made it possible to control most every system in the house with a simple touch or click of a computerized device but also to anticipate our needs and do the basics for us.
Gone are the days of walking into a room and having to flip a switch or adjust the thermostat. And worrying about leaving the oven on or forgetting to lock the door is a thing the past for smarthome owners. Today’s technology makes it possible to network and manage a home’s lighting, sound, heating and cooling, pool maintenance, appliances, security systems and irrigation all remotely.
Paul Farley, vice president of sales at Crescendo Design in Southampton, says that full home automation is more accessible to homeowners than ever before. It’s not just about being less expensive either; the systems are also easier to install and control and they come with an increasing number of user-friendly options.
His company brings integrated home control into the modern age with the incorporation of energy-efficiency, entertainment technology and environmentally friendly systems. Smarthome automation technology is especially in demand by second-home owners who can use it to tie their systems into “vacation mode,” reports Mr. Farley. That way all features—such as HVAC, security, lighting and security—can be controlled remotely. He predicts that within a few years, technological advancements will continue to grow at record pace, bringing even more possibilities directly to an owner’s fingertips.
“Right now we’re really scratching at the surface. This technology is still in its infancy,” he says. “In the not-too-distant future, automated systems will have even more intelligence and will be able to do things without you having to tell them to do them.”
Paul Bain, CEO of New York-based Telstar Home Entertainment, agrees. The future of home automation is upon us, he says, and with it comes peace of mind.
The biggest advancements that he sees happening in smarthome technology are in cloud-based management and self-healing products.
“We’re moving beyond simple notifications, such as those that used to alert us that the thermostat had dropped, and into self-healing and correcting systems,” he says. “It’s now possible for the house to reboot itself when there’s a loss of power or when it goes offline.”
Mr. Bain, whose company specializes in whole-house audio and speaker installation, home theater and multimedia systems, video surveillance, lighting control systems, home computing, Wi-Fi networking, and remotely accessible security and alarm systems, predicts that GPS and geo-fencing technology—which allows a home system to sense and act on simple commands when the owner is close by, via cellphone signal—will become standard practice. Internet technology networking management will also continue to grow as computers become more prevalent in our lives, he reports.
“Even five years ago, there were only a couple of computers in the home,” he says. “But now everyone’s got multiple devices—cellphones, laptops, iPads—and that can create havoc, especially when you’ve got guests who also bring theirs out with them. Home networking and strong backbone structures, from a service standpoint, bring a much more solid foundation for the overall system management.”
Smarthome processes aren’t limited to inside the house, reminds John Tortorella, owner of Tortorella Group in Southampton. The award-winning pool builder and spa designer says that the technology is particularly advisable for those who want to oversee and manage their pool and spa systems onsite and remotely.
Right now, he and his team are working on a down-jet system that will better control water flow and temperature, he says. The technology will not just improve efficiency and be more environmentally friendly, it will also be a basic but important leap in pool resource management.
“Controlling the water temperature and energy efficiency are the two biggest things you can do around the pool and we’re always looking to better that,” he says. “Not only is it ‘smart,’ it also makes practical sense.”
With the advances within the spectrum of smarthome technology, it’s easier now than ever before for everyone to enjoy the convenience and luxury that comes with automation, says Peter Sabbeth of Bridgehampton-based Modern Green Home.
He says that virtually all home-based systems now can be retrofitted into existing architecture. And the cost to do it is nominal today, he says, adding that the overall cost is down from $90,000 for the whole house to typically under $20,000 for most everything.
“It used to be that you had to do a ground-up build, meaning that the entire house had to be hard-wired,” he reports. “But now it’s not just new construction, you can add on everything after the fact. Every house can now be a smarthome.”