Home Technology and Home Design Can Work Together

By Electronic House

To learn more about outdoor smart lighting control, download this free Focus Series publication: Great Ideas for Lighting and Shading from the editors at Electronic House.

Download today!

A high tech home doesn’t have to look like something out of Star Wars. When people think about home automation and advanced smart control technologies, they often believe their homes will be overwhelmed by awkward-looking devices and blinking lights (of course, they can, if you like that). However, tech companies have learned that high-tech systems also need to fit into the kinds of homes people live in now, not the future homes of science fiction.

Televisions, including HDTVs, flat panels, and Ultra HD sets are great examples of this trend. As TV technology improves it also gets easier and easier to seamlessly integrate into the home. At one time the bezel of a typical flat screen TV was a wide, attention-getting frame. Now they’re practically non-existent, which makes the TV much more aesthetically pleasing to the homeowner (and easier for interior designers to deal with). Skilled integrators can make even the largest TV disappear via motorized lifts and cabinets or decorative frames that can conceal the TV behind artwork when it’s not being used.

Smart home control systems are one of the biggest technology grown areas. Every day we hear of new developments in smart lighting and automation. Aside from the ease-of-use and control abilities of these systems, one of their benefits is that aesthetically please keypads and touchpanels can replace wall banks full of old-fashioned dimmers and switches.  “Wall acne,” a term some integrators use to describe excess use of light switches, can be completely replaced by decorative multifunction keypads that take up a lot less space and do more things. Some people even choose to eliminate that completely by turning control over to smart phone apps or portable touchpanels and remotes.

Sometimes there are places where a control switch is absolutely necessary, but homeowners don’t need to be restricted to boring white or beige switches and dimmers. Smart control keypads and wireless dimmers now come in a wide assortment of designs-much more than your average home supply stores carry. Skilled integrators can even customize wall plates and keypads to exactly fit a home’s unique aesthetic.

Aside from the control devices, new smart lighting systems add decorative features and style to a home. Lighting can be customized, and light scenes changed at the touch of a button to create the perfect ambience for any time of the day or any special event. New color-changing light technologies allow even more possibilities for people who want to decorate with light-and you never need to touch a light switch.

A home’s shades and blinds can even become part of a smart home system through the use of innovative motorized window solutions. The selection of fabrics and styles for motorized shades is as comprehensive as any interior designer could want. By integrating your window coverings to a home automation system, you add energy efficiency and security as well as adding to your home’s décor.

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BenQ Ultra-Short Throw Projectors Make the Classroom Interactive

By SCN Staff On July 21, 2014

BenQ has launched a new series of ultra-short throw projectors, the MX852UST and MW853UST. As a provider of interactive classroom tools BenQ has designed its new ultra-short projectors with Colorific image quality, easy installation, and PointWrite interaction for today’s students, teachers, and learning institutions. The devices deliver more than one billion bright colors, provide impressive cost savings, and enable more collaborative classroom experiences while reducing total cost of ownership (TCO).
 BenQ has launched a new series of ultra-short throw projectors, the MX852UST and MW853UST.
“Schools continue to seek comprehensive teaching solutions that bolster learning without increasing classroom costs or complexity,” said Bob Wudeck, associate vice president, strategy and business development at BenQ. “With the release of our new MX852UST and MW853UST interactive projectors, we’re empowering teachers with simple yet powerful and collaborative tools to inspire students without breaking the bank.”

For schools, BenQ’s Colorific technology eliminates both light burn and color degradation over extended usage, reducing the devices’ TCO. To further optimize the viewing experience, the XGA (MX852UST) and WXGA (MW853UST) devices shine at a 10,000:1 contrast ratio and respective 3,000 and 3,200 lumens of brightness to ensure reliable projections in any indoor light setting, eliminating the need to ever dim the lights again.

To bring lesson plans to life, the MX852UST and MW853UST are compatible with BenQ’s PointWrite technology — allowing up to four participants to simultaneously collaborate on screens as large as 190 inches. Featuring auto calibration, the tool allows teachers and students to jointly interact via enabled pens or finger touch technology on any type of projection surface for effortless collaboration. Also equipped with 3D, PC, and Blu-ray readiness in addition to double 10-W speakers, the projectors become a complete content solution for creating engaging lesson plans that will turn the classroom into an inclusive, enhanced, and inspiring environment.

With wall-mount plates integrated directly onto the projectors, installation of the MX852UST and MW853UST is as easy as sliding the devices into place. Setups are made even easier thanks to the projectors’ ultra -short throw ratios of 0.43 (MX852UST) and 0.35 (MW853UST), which enable simple placement within any environment. For IT staff, facility-wide maintenance and management are simplified with LAN control, which enables remote monitoring, scheduling, and maintenance from any location over a network. In addition, both projectors are compatible with Crestron RoomView, while a filter-free optical system further reduces the devices’ maintenance costs.

For even greater TCO reduction, both projectors come equipped with BenQ’s SmartEco™ technology, which reduces power consumption by 70 percent via automatic lamp power adjustment based on precise brightness requirements. Enabling up to an amazing 7,000 hours of lamp life, the energy-saving projectors dramatically cut lamp replacement costs and lower consumption via Auto Power Off while a convenient Eco Blank mode allows teachers to blank out the projection screen whenever the projector is not in use.

Pushing technology …
The Honda Smart Home Produces More Energy Than It Uses
The home has several electronic enhancements and provides zero-net energy living.
The House


View The Honda Smart Home Produces More Energy Than It Uses

July 18, 2014 by Rachel Cericola

Honda makes a really nice car. (They were my first.) However, can they make a really nice smart home?

If you’ve had the chance to peek at the Honda Smart Home, you’d already know that answer. The home opened earlier this year on the West Village campus of the University of California, Davis, and features all sorts of awesome electronic goodies inside. While you won’t find the latest and greatest 4K theater inside the home, you will find technologies and products “that enable zero-net energy living and transportation.”

Construction on the 1,945-square-foot home first began back in April 2013. The finished project features three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, and a zero-net energy consumption. In fact, the Honda Smart Home actually uses renewable sources and a 9.5kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system to produce more energy on-site than it consumes annually—and that includes enough to power up a Honda Fit EV for the daily commute.

The home also includes several Electronic House conveniences from AMX, Lutron, Samsung, Wisdom Audio, and much more. It even has a circadian lighting scheme and a home energy management system (HEMS) with proprietary hardware and software. The Costa Mesa-based installation firm Cantara was responsible for the design, engineering, and programming of a lot of those high-tech perks.

Honda is the latest in a lengthy list of companies looking to get into the smart home space. However, it makes a lot of sense that a car manufacturer would want to put some effort into making homes more energy-efficient. After all, cars and homes account for 44 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

“With the Honda Smart Home, we’ve developed technologies and design solutions to address two primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions—homes and cars,” said Steve Center, vice president of the Environmental Business Development Office of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Ultimately, our goal is to contribute to the public dialogue about addressing CO2 emissions.”

Although Honda has yet to pick who will get to live in the company’s first Smart Home, it’s expected to be a member of the UC Davis community. Besides the home and all of the furnishings, that lucky individual will also get a Honda Fit EV for cruising around town.

Smart Lighting Systems Add Personality and Function to Any Space

By Electronic House

To learn more about outdoor smart lighting control, download this free Focus Series publication: Great Ideas for Lighting and Shading from the editors at Electronic House.

Download today!

Of any technology in a home, a smart lighting control system offers one of the best opportunities to truly personalize each and every room to your liking. This goes for every other person in your family, too. If you like the living room bright and cheery, a lighting control system can be set up to suit this preference. Your spouse, meanwhile, can have the same lights adjust for a quieter, more subdued environment. The rest of your family can have it their way, too. And it all happens with just a touch of a button.

Lighting Transformed
Just as the lights can be designed to suit your style, they can be arranged and programmed to complement the room décor and the various functions of the space. That same family room that looked bright and cheery for a family gathering can turn swank and sophisticated when you’re hosting an evening cocktail party-again, just a tap of a button on a keypad, smart phone or tablet and the transformation unfolds.

Custom Interface
Just as automated lighting scenes can be designed to reflect the many personalities of your household, so can the design of the devices you use to activate those scenes. Buttons on keypads can be custom engraved. Icons on smartphones, tablets and touchscreens can be labeled however you like. That common, nondescript button called Welcome packs more personality when you label it Dad’s Arrival, and complement it with others called Mom’s Home and Kids in the House. If you refer to your midnight trips to the kitchen as “cookie time,” why not engrave the keypad button by your bedside with this creative description? Chose a favorite font, color, shape and style for the buttons and icons; or choose a theme. Controllers can be designed with a particular vibe in mind, be it nautical, neo-classical or uber sleek and modern.

Creative Illumination
From the way in which the light sources react to commands issued by controllers to the design of the controllers themselves, a lighting control system lets you get creative with illumination in a way that uniquely expresses you personality and style. When working with a home systems integrator don’t be afraid to let your individuality show. Your system will feel like a natural extension of your house that’s easily relatable and provides real value and enjoyment.

Good article for the read…

CEDIA Home Technology Blog / 2014 / May / Automated Lighting Brings Convenience and More

Automated Lighting Brings Convenience and More

May 27, 2014   |   comments
discreet control keypad in historic home

Lighting is probably not the first thing you think of when contemplating the marvels of modern home automation, but, in addition to offering considerable convenience, today’s lighting control systems can help conserve energy and contribute to household safety.

We caught up with Todd Sandler, president of the Overland Park, Kansas-based custom installation firm Naturally Wired, and asked him to talk about the potential for automated lighting in these areas.


Having one button that turns all of the lights in the house on or off is powerful and convenient, Sandler explains.

“If you hear a bump in the night you can turn on all the lights by pressing an All On button on a keypad in your bedroom instead of wandering around with a flashlight and turning one light on at a time.

“The opposite of that is families with kids who tend to leave lights on all the time. If you’re getting ready for bed and wondering how many lights the kids left on today, just hit the All Off button to turn everything off and you won’t have to worry about it.”

Lighting control systems can be customized to suit the homeowner needs, too. An example would be a Good Morning button that turns the lights on in areas where you get ready for work – maybe the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen.


Lighting control systems can also be tied into the home’s security system to provide an added measure of safety, according to Sandler. “When the alarm system goes off, the system automatically turns on all of the lights inside the house and flashes the exterior lights so the authorities know immediately where to go,” he explains.

An example of a feature that straddles safety and convenience is the ability to control home lighting from an app on your phone. “If you’re on vacation and think you left lights on, you can pick up your phone, hit the All Off button and turn the hallway light on, Sandler notes.

“Or maybe you’re expecting company or coming home late. You can turn on the porch light without having to walk into the house in the dark.” Sandler says. A Welcome Home button that turns on outside and entry lights is another popular option.

Energy Conservation

Remember how your parents reprimanded you and your siblings for leaving the lights on when you were a kid? In addition to making it easy to turn off unused lights around the house, an automated lighting system can be programmed to save energy over time.

“We set up our systems so that lights turn on at 90 percent instead of full power,” Sandler says. “Your eyes cannot detect that level of difference, yet you’re saving 10 percent of the energy and doubling the life of that light bulb just by dimming it.”

The bottom line: A properly set-up lighting system can help conserve energy, perhaps by as much as 20 percent or more.

As for the type of bulb – traditional incandescent vs. compact fluorescent (CFL) vs. LED – Sandler generally leaves that decision up to his clients and their lighting designer or electrician, but acknowledges that LED is “the direction things are going.”

Of course, the type of bulb you use can lead to additional energy savings, with LED bulbs using 20 to 25 percent less energy and lasting up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs. (Visit energy.gov for more on bulb types and energy usage and check out the Light Bulb Finder app.)

For anyone considering using CFL or LED bulbs, Sandler points out that they don’t produce the soft, warm light we’re used to from incandescent bulbs.

Automated Lighting Costs

So what does it cost to have a lighting control system installed and customized to your lifestyle? While prices vary from region to region and company to company, Sandler breaks it down by the light switch and offers his clients several price/performance levels. CEDIA’s free Research & Budget Guide offers a starting point for homeowners looking to price out home automation projects.


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