Home theaters and media rooms with acoustic paneling and custom seating; security systems with two-way voice activation and video cameras; remote water, lighting and thermostat controls—these are all available at the tap of your iPhone or iPad. In the ever-evolving technological landscape, new features that provide a measure of convenience are multiplying rapidly for the residential market. And the best part is that they are becoming more affordable so these features are no longer something to imagine in the future. In fact, many home owners are installing full-feature systems throughout their homes, according to Panos Anassis, president and owner of Audio Video Invasion in Plainview.
“We actually see a much bigger movement to automation than we’ve seen before,” says Anassis. “Most systems allow you to integrate your iPhone device with the platform. That’s what we’re seeing as a big shift. The technology is moving in the direction that it’s becoming easier for us to install, and more affordable for the consumer. We have a broader market than before.”
Components come from a range of suppliers. Anassis says Audio Video Invasion features Control 4 hubs for automation management. Its systems also feature Sonos audio and visual equipment and use a Sonos box and wired speakers for music streaming and other features that can be controlled via smartphone or iPad.
Several executives say fully integrated systems for a medium-size house now costs around $10,000—a fraction of the cost a system with security and audio and video features would have cost in the predigital era.
“The shift has been dramatic. The consumer is understanding more about home automation and you can put more in the consumer’s hands,” says Jim Maci, president and owner of Oakwood Automation in Huntington Station.
Maci says the ease of control with a smart phone or iPad is drawing a diverse cross-section of consumers.
“Everything can be operated remotely. The experience on those devices is a little bit more feature-rich. You’re really getting feedback on what’s going on throughout the house,” he says.
That means you can use your phone to check to see whether you left the lights on or forgot to activate your surveillance system—quite a convenience if you’re out of town.
Maci foresees a continuing evolution of improved video sources that can be integrated with high-end home theater features, such as lighting effects.
“The most popular current trends would be multi-zone audio systems where we have music in many rooms of the home and also outside entertaining areas and video surveillance systems where you can keep an eye on things while away from your home,” says Ed Bradley, manager of Island SmartHomes in Manhasset.
Bradley says new features are flourishing. “Every week there are many new platforms and types of technology being introduced to accomplish basically the same thing.”
Anassis says Audio Video Invasion has installed a 160-inch screen in one residential home theater. “Ultra HD 4K technology, which offers higher resolution than the 1080 interlace display standard, is the cutting-edge for home theaters.” He adds that home theaters also now incorporate seats that vibrate in response to the bass lines in the audio track of a particular movie.
Andrew Lowitt, vice president of Lowitt Alarms and Security Systems Inc. in Hicksville, says his security company and Honeywell are adding a GPS vehicle tracking feature to its subscription smart- phone application for current and future users.
“The industry is growing, and the new generation of homeowners is interested in the latest technology,” Lowitt says.
Since that technology also includes refrigerators that create recipes based on the ingredients stored inside and washers and dryers that send text message alerts when their cycle has ended, soon our homes may even be smarter than we are.