You arrive home after a long day at the office and shout, “Hi honey, I’m home!” How would you like it if your home reacted? Yup! Imagine anything, ANYTHING, A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G you’d want your house to do (within reason) and Homemation will probably make it happen.
Homemation based in Kramerville, Sandton invited me on a tour of their experience centre which is basically a “demo home”. Here you’re spoilt with endless displays of what kind of home technology is available at the moment to make your home, YOUR home.
From entering the front gate, maybe even your front door, to waking up at night and needing the loo – your behaviour and movements are all read and understood by your home, and your home then responds accordingly. But I’m jumping the gun – let’s take it step by step.
Homemation’s Warren Husband tells me that (almost) anything is possible but suggests we start at the beginning, with the front door/gate system aka access control.
The Control 4 door station or intercom
When you have a visitor, whether friend or service provider, the Control 4 door station makes an audio or video intercom call through to the Control 4 smart home. You’ll be able to see who has arrived at your home on either your touchscreen or your mobile phone, even if you’re halfway across the world.
There is an option for the door station to come with a keypad to give service providers access to the property, like for instance your garden service. The service provider will be issued their own unique code that will work only on the day they’re supposed to arrive and only between business hours. Punch in that code and the perimeter will disarm but the house stays secure. It might even close any of the automated blinds and curtains, if you don’t want any prying eyes.
On leaving, the service provider punches in their unique code and the house arms. Expect to be notified anytime something is going on at the house – you’ll be kept in the loop, even if you’re out of town.
But what if that code is used outside of the permissible times? “Well,” asks Husband. “What do you want your system to do?” (a trending theme throughout this demo, I might add.) “In my home, the gate won’t open and every member of the family that owns a device is notified that there’s been an intrusion attempt.”
It’s also important to mention that the locking system (which just looks like a fancy door handle) is battery operated. If you’re concerned about being locked out – no stress. You will be warned that the battery is going flat (10%, 5% etc.) and that it needs to be changed. But you can really expect anywhere between six months and two years battery life. “It all depends on the frequency of use,” says Husband.
Once you’re inside
You’ve walked through the door… and as you arrive home, you’ll notice a few things happening: your Luton shades and curtains open up to let in some natural light; above you your first lighting circuit has also switched on (this could include the garage or the entrance hall). At the same time though, there’s a high-pitched beeping going on. This, similar to any home with an alarm system, is your alarm reminding you to enter your code. In this case though, you’ll be tapping on a touchscreen instead of one of those hideous and unsightly alarm touchpads we’re all stuck with.
The code is punched in, the house is disarmed and your home, through the alarm integration, knows its occupied. Your lights, your blinds, your music, aircon, TV, fireplace (reminder: “What do you want your system to do?”) are all set on how you prefer them. “In as much as we are all individuals and have our own routines,” says Husband. “They are, none the less, routines.” Normally, you get home and do a couple of things to get the home set up and ready for you. “We take care of all of this.”
Jokingly, I say to Husband: “I’d want the house to say TAH-DAH and cheer every time I walk into a room.”
“We can do that!” he responds.
Noticeably, there are a few touchscreens on the walls of different rooms in this “home”, all ready to be accessed and although touchscreens are a great way to manage your house, remind yourself, when all you want to do is switch on a light, perhaps a touchscreen isn’t ideal. “A switch is great for simple functionality,” says Husband.
Let’s fast forward to dinner time. Food is made and ready to be served up and it’s time to get rally the troupes (I spelled it like that on purpose), so the family can enjoy a meal together. A large home with a large family will greatly benefit from what Husband has termed the “dinner call button”.
When you press this button, the televisions in the home switch off. At the same time, the bedrooms lights will flash and any older kids with headphones plugged into a device will notice the lights and hopefully remove their headphones – they’ll then hear the announcement through the house intercom that dinner is ready. The lighting in the dining room will set to how you like it and music will start playing in the dining room.
If your teenager is particularly stubborn, you can set your dinner call button to also throttle the internet, so there is no longer enough bandwidth to continue playing that game, but the dining room has its ambient music… The network hasn’t been switched off entirely and cut everyone off from the world, just maybe nudged someone along to getting their butt to the dinner table.
Once dinner is done and the family move to the living room (or the cinema), again it’s a mere touch of a button and the living room (or cinema) is set up to how you find it comfortable.
Let’s chat about bedtime, the perfect time to make use of your good night button. “When I go to bed, I press good night and it does the rest for me,” explains Husband. “Switching of my audio video systems, switching off my lighting systems, making sure my alarm is armed, my front door is locked, my front gate is locked, the garage doors are closed, the air-conditioning system is switched off and the windows, blinds and curtains are all closed.
“We haven’t however switched off the bedroom system, because we might want to read or watch TV in bed. When you’re ready to go to bed, you could, from the bedside keypad switch off everything.”
Similarly, to putting the house to bed, you can wake your home up and then expect all the comforts you need in the morning. The house is then set to wake you up how and when you want it to.
I’ll stress it again “What do you want your system to do?” and Homemation has the solution.
It’s important to note that Homemation runs a business to business service and does not sell directly to the public. The good news however is that if you’d like to experience a smart home, you can book a demo at www.control4.co.za. This way you’ll get a feel of what is possible. The team will then put you in touch with suppliers that can help you set up your home, your way.
Also, here’s a link to my video on Homemation.
Secure connected devices here.