State of the Art Homes

publication date: Sep 23, 2008
 | 
author/source: Kate Faulkner
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State of the Art Homes
Creating a start of the art home can mean many different things to many people. However, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation did a study of the market potential for Smart Homes (state of the art homes) and came up with this helpful definition:-

"Smart Homes use electronic networking technology to integrate the various devices and appliances found in almost all homes, plus building environment systems more common in factories and offices, so that an entire home can be controlled centrally or remotely as a single machine. This technology offers the prospect of significant improvements in the living standards of older, sick and disabled people who, without automated domestic activities, might otherwise be totally reliant on home care."

Their study shows that most people wanted a smart home to help with security and safety, access their home and items in it remotely and because it should save people time and money:-
 
Reference: Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Following this study, we cover these three elements within this section, as well as explaining one of the biggest topics for State of the Art Homes ‘multi room visual and audio entertainment’. We have also trawled the magazines, shows and the internet to try and find some tantalising 'state of the art' home products which for most will just be a dream, but are still great fun to investigate!

Networking Your Home
This is one of the main features of any state of the art or smart home. Basically it involves a system which integrates all the utilities and technology in your home. There are many companies who now offer to network your home, but be careful that you choose a company that is happy to give you case studies and work to ensure that they minimise the damage to your home through installing network cables/features.

The basic idea of networking is that your (or a) PC runs everything in your home and you have an easy to use 'interface' to turn on, off, adjust, or change your heating, entertainment, security, lighting, appliances and any other super gadgets you have in your home. It is worth reading up as much as possible if you are considering doing this as it is complex and you need to make sure you get a system which has a company that can provide the best customer service in case anything goes wrong.

Research
To start, checkout these articles and websites to help understand exactly what networking is and what you need to think about for your home:-

Although a site for businesses, the information by Next Wave Technology  summarises what networking is and how it works.

Whole Home Systems explains well what this technology can do for your home.
Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association which have a members' directory to search for companies to work with. The 'Beginners Guide to Home Automation' is a book you might like to read.

What you need to think about when considering networking your home
The most important thing to think about is what do you want the system to do? Is it for security reasons that you want the system, or do you want to control everything from lights, to the individual temperature of a radiator at a button?

Once you have a list of what you would like the system to do and why, then you should think about how much you want to disrupt your home. Are you happy for it to be completely rewired and redecorate after, or would you prefer to look at wireless options?

After that, it's a matter of budget. Perhaps you would like to do it a bit at a time, so you may need a system that can be added to, or you might want to do it in one go, it all depends on how much you want to spend and what are the main features that you want to concentrate on.

For more information about what to consider, look at the Joseph Rowntree Foundations' checklist.
 
For more help on networking your home, go to the CEDIA website and find companies in your area, look in our Additional Resources Section and go through the 'smart home examples' to learn more about homes that have already been created with 'intelligent systems'.

Security and Safety
We already have access to quite sophisticated security and safety features, some of them incredibly simple and cheap to install. For example, one of the easiest ways to make your home that bit more secure - particularly when you are out - is to use timer plug ins. These allow you switch on your lights or any other appliance such as a radio or TV remotely at specific times during the day and night.

Other features that are easy to purchase and install and are considered 'standard' these days are CCTV equipment to protect your home. So what technology is required to move your home to 'smart home' status and improve security and status?

There are several new features that have been developed for state of the art or smart homes, but it might be useful to checkout what security features you need for you home, by going to Home Security Action  for their Security Review and Checklist and A Guide to Home Security by Crime Reduction UK.

State of the Art Locks
If you frequently lose your keys, then this is ideal, Finger Print Door Locks! Basically they do what they say on the tin - instead of keys, you get into your home by using your fingerprint, something you are unlikely to ever leave behind! There are several companies that do this, but the main one to look at in the UK appears to be UK Biometrics. Checkout prices for these products, but expect to pay from £200 per lock. Do get independent advice as to the safety of these products - ideally find someone who already uses them or ask the company for some case studies or referrals.
 
State of the Art CCTV
It's OK having CCTV at home or somewhere where you can access the internet, but what if you are not there to watch it? What if you are half way around the world? Don't despair, our mobiles are now being put to good use through a CCTV system that sends a text to your mobile if something sparks movement for a camera. As long as you are not in the country with lots of wildlife around triggering the system every few minutes, it means you can keep tabs on what's happening in your home.

For more information, checkout this BBC Article and go to LookCLtd.

State of the Art Integrated Central Locking
This is an incredibly neat system. Rather than having to worry about locking every window or door, or worrying whether you locked anything or not, then this home version of car central locking is definitely worth a look! For more information checkout this article from the BBC. For companies that sell these products, visit Centra Lock.

Additional Information
Budgets vary for State of the Art Home Security, varying from £500 to £5,000 – I guess it depends how much stuff you have in your home!

Smart Products
There are many products that you can have in your home these days, from the now well written about fridge with a screen, and internet connection to a wireless system allowing you to access the net from anywhere around the home. However, if you know where to look, there are even more 'wow' smart home products that you can purchase. Some are surprisingly affordable, while others run into the hundreds of thousands.

Smartlife International Magazine regularly features the world's most amazing products from around the world! Here are some of their best choices from their November edition:-

Kitchen
Anyone living in a sophisticated smart home would want to have the best wines. Once you do have the best wine, the next most important thing to do is to have the very best place to keep them. Try the Spiral Cellars wine cellar. It claims that you can install it anywhere under floor, but I'm not sure we all have space for 1,600 bottles of wine under our floor!

Bathroom
For the best bathing experience in the world, try this bath out. It's fully illuminated and even incorporates a waterfall! Feel free to invite your friends around, seems to fit. Visit Teuco.

If showers are more your thing, try the Tray Bien a new up-market, sleek shower tray. It fits flush with the floor and the waste is nicely covered over, so no horrible hairs in the morning. Visit Kaldewei or try the 'rain shower' it's amazing!

For the ultimate experience in 'bathroom entertainment' think about tiling your bathroom with a TileVision - yes it's all built in and if installed properly should be extremely safe.

Bedroom
Fancy having a plasma screen that appears or disappears as you instruct at the bottom of your bed? Visit Mayflower Designs.

Accessories
The digital picture player, a bit gimmicky, but great if you are a fan of photos. Basically they play your digital photos through a TFT LCD screen and you can programme the 'photo frames' to play the pictures you want at the frequency you want.

Inspirational Heating from Aestus
Making radiators a design feature in your home. Visit Aestus.

Innovative Features
Memory clocks, overflow alerts, voice prompts, all via a housing association! Visit this BBC article.

Smart Home Examples
As smart home technology begins to influence our lives more and more, new homes developers are starting to implement technology into the home from the start of construction. Here are some examples of how technology is being implemented into homes around the country:-

The Orange at Home House
A home adapted to test out all the latest in smart technology by the mobile operator Orange. There is also a good write up and further information from the Homebuilding and Renovating Show.

The Life House
This house by David Wilson Homes has been test driven by a family to see the advantages and use of smart technology in a home.

There are also two companies that are worth checking out who create smart homes for individuals, these are Green Amber and Whole Home Systems.

For more resources on creating a 'smart home' go to the Additional Resources Section.

Additional Resources

Shows About Smart Technology
Smart Home Show

Magazines
Smart Life International. It costs around £27.95 12 issues or for £6.95 you can get three magazines to start you off!
 
Books
We found two useful books:-
Beginners Guide to Home Automation for more information and Inside the Smart Home from Surrey University's website.

Other Helpful Websites
Find a dealer from the CEDIA website.

This site sells products, but some really useful write ups too - Home Security Action.

Information on Home Automation.

Some Good Articles
The Digital Home Takes Shape
 


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