23 June 2020

Why Lighting Design? Part 3.

In the third and final installment of our blog series covering the effects of lighting on our health and quality of life we will be covering the changing world of lighting technology.

For better or worse, most new homes now feature LED lighting. The efficiency of LED fixtures is well documented, but many have never been happy with details such as color, quality, and dimming performance. Modern LED fixtures now have the ability to more closely match traditional incandescent lighting in all of those categories, along with one really special trick.

09 June 2020

Building for Peace of Mind

Even before COVID-19, Safewise reported that 58 percent of people living in the United States report feeling worried about their safety every single day. States where this concern ranked markedly higher than the rest of the country include Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Tennessee. The top health and wellness concerns in the home include falling and carbon monoxide poisoning, and one-third of Americans have experienced an environmental safety issue before, with poor air quality/air pollution and water quality being top concerns.

As we build and renovate our homes, more and more, we start to consider what we can do to make them a safe place for our family to live in and for our friends to visit. In this blog, we are to look at five ways you can bring peace of mind and some safety to your home.

21 May 2020

Something’s in the Air (and Water)

If we remember the first half of 2020 for anything, I am guessing most of us will remember the amount of time we 'sheltered at home.' Looking after the health of our family, our friends, and our community has been our most important priority. Some people will be ready to head outdoors or into public spaces the moment they are allowed, and others will take time before they want to be back in their wider community.

Either way, as we start the process of being back to whatever our 'new normal' will be, our communities will need to decide what to do to make our outside world as safe as possible.  At the same time, we should consider if there is more we can do to make our indoors as healthy as we can, too. Here are three ideas to consider.

07 May 2020

A Happy Home Is a Healthy Home

We all wish for the happiness and health of our families and friends. We all understand how diet, exercise, and even time spent with loved ones, is a critical step to achieving this wish. We also know that when designing a new home or office, we should devote considerable time to make our spaces comfortable and productive. The right materials, fabrics, and textures create an experience that makes us feel at home, but there is more we can do.

Few use the right technology in the right place to improve quality of life. Correctly done, home technology can reduce stress, increase your quality of life, and make you more productive. Here are four ways the right home technology can help you achieve healthy spaces.

16 April 2020

Why Lighting Design? Part 2

Before the harnessing of electricity, artificial light was expensive, and therefore relatively scarce. Over the last 100 years or so, the cost of lighting our world has become negligible, which has had enormous economic consequences. The home and the workplace became safer, factories increased productivity, and social activities extended late into the night.

02 April 2020

Why Lighting Design? Part One

When humans first populated the earth, the largest influence on their lives was the sun. It determined when they woke and when the slept, when they hunted and when they hid. Even after the discovery of fire, the physical toll of maintaining an open flame limited its functionality as a light source. Even tallow candles, popular in the 14th century, were so expensive that only the most affluent members of society could enjoy more than a few minutes of light per day.

Up to the 19th century it was still prohibitively expensive for the majority of people. In 1816 Baltimore became the first city in America to light its streets with gas distributed through a system of pipelines. This technology proved so beneficial that it was found in almost every city by 1850. And just like that, we owned the night.

This is part one of a three-part series covering how we can control light to improve our lives. In the first part we will cover lighting design, and how it impacts our ability to enjoy and use our space.

06 March 2020

Your next TV – news from CES

Who ever said bigger isn’t better has never walked the TV area at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Reporters and news programs can give a misleading view of what CES has to offer, as they tend to focus on the ‘concept cars’ rather than the ‘production cars’ of technology. Last year, the stories about LG’s rollup TV and this year’s Samsung's swing-into-portrait-mode Sero TV fell into that bucket. Yet underneath all the hype, we find some real changes coming to TVs, and many of them are available today.

01 March 2020

Technical Support Derangement Syndrome

Does calling for help on your smart home problems give you Technical Support Derangement Syndrome?  It’s frustrating for anyone, especially when dealing with a luxury custom integration company, that all you hear is:

  • “I’m sorry. The person you need to speak with isn’t in the office at the moment. Can I have him give you a call back?”
  • “Let me make a few calls and get back to you as soon as I can.”
  • Or the dreaded “Hold please,” only to be left hanging for an inordinate amount of time.

If that’s what you usually hear, then you may not be calling the right people. The problem is not that they don’t want to help; it could be that they may simply lack the technical knowledge necessary to help you solve your problem.  Also, the person answering the phone at your integrator’s office may be in the middle of entering invoices, have guests in the lobby that need attention, or is otherwise distracted, making someone else’s experience way less than stellar.

16 June 2020

The Sound and Silence

Balance of sound and silence can impact health and influence emotions. Prolonged excessive exposure to a deficient sound environment causes a range of problems, including stress, poor concentration, productivity loss, communication difficulties, and fatigue. When designing a home, consideration needs to be given to whether you are trying to stop sound getting into a room to keep it quiet, like a bedroom, or trying to stop sound getting out of a room, like a home theater.

28 May 2020

Hiding the Clutter

Professionals will tell you that clutter can sap confidence, reduce creativity, impact your sleep, and increase tension. Yet in a modern home or office, all our devices, cables, tools, and technology increase clutter, which ruins your design and messes with your health. When you design for a healthy home, you look to hide some of this, or at least make it invisible. From speakers in the wall to hidden TVs that look like art, there are many things you can do to cut the visual noise and streamline your home’s appearance.

14 May 2020

Lighting Control & Wellness

Great lighting design involves using layers of light to deliver the desired result, and that layering typically results in a large number of fixtures. To dial in the ideal lighting levels, most homes depend on banks of switches and dimmers, particularly in rooms like the great room, kitchen, and master suite. Those banks of switches are unsightly, complex, and inelegant solutions to a problem that didn’t exist when the light switch was invented. In the past, a room was most likely lit by a single light source, or worse, a few fixtures controlled together by one switch.

Lighting control allows precise, repeatable control of the light in a space and allows us to do so while replacing that bank of controls with a single, customizable keypad. That keypad can be programmed to control a room, or even entire home, with a single button press.

23 April 2020

Upgrade Your Home Office

While we've all been living with social distancing and quarantine for the past few weeks, there is one thing every person working from home has in common, and there are millions of us. We are all struggling with crappy equipment and room setups, and therefore having terrible experiences with video conference calls. We almost all sound like crap, look way too small on a laptop screen, have delays and echoes, and it is affecting everyone's business in a negative way.

With remote work becoming the new normal for the foreseeable future, these problems need to be addressed and resolved.

09 April 2020

Network Blues: Is Your Wi-Fi Making Life Harder?

If there were ever a time we needed our home networking to work better, it would be now. If you were to do a quick google search on “best router,” you probably wonder where to start when you get 124 million results. The issue isn’t the answer (like 42), but are we asking the right questions? In this blog, I want to try and ask the right questions and give homeowners a place to look for the correct answers.

09 March 2020

Smart Devices VS. Smart Homes

This shouldn’t be news to anyone, but your average home contains more “smart” devices than ever before. Nest thermostats may have brought the trend to the mainstream, but Alexa, HomeKit, Sonos, and others have taken that momentum and run with it. You might think that adding a few of these devices would take you to the pinnacle of the “Smart Home,” but is there anything that is missing from these consumer or DIY devices that is available in the professional systems like Control4, ELAN and Savant? Let’s take a look.

03 March 2020

Home Presets

I often wonder “Why do we welcome technology more in our cars than in our homes?” After all, let’s go back to the last time you approached your car:  You probably pressed the button on a remote that unlocked the door and disarmed the alarm.  As you pull back on the door in your car, the light conveniently comes on for you inside and the seat moves back.  When you sit down, and either put your key in or press start, the seat moves forward as the steering wheel moves down and towards you.   As you take a drive down the road, your favorite music is just a single button press away on the six presets.  Why doesn’t your house do all this? 

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