The two-minute guide to technology in the home15 June 2011
It is possible to offer the kind of joined-up technological solution that both adds value to your residential projects and delivers real lifestyle benefits to your clients, argues Jonathan Mangnall of AMX.
Nowadays we are all living more technology-rich lives. We enjoy browsing and roaming free from technical constraint and are used to having both choice and fingertip control over how, where and when we consume multi-media content. What’s more, we are increasingly looking for this functionality in our homes.
Whilst many of us aspire to the convenience of greater technological integration and increased automation; joining-up the components of our connected lives and reconciling them within an architectural design or interior scheme can be challenging. However, it is possible to offer the kind of joined-up technological solution that both adds value to your residential projects and delivers real lifestyle benefits to your clients.@page_break@
An integrated automation solution is the key to achieving a home that fulfils both architectural ambition and technological aspiration. With careful integration, technology can be seamlessly incorporated into the very fabric of a building so that internal space is liberated from the constraints of wires, black boxes and other consumer electronic paraphernalia.
Whether your clients want to listen to different music in different rooms; watch and control films, TV and other high-definition media all around their property; operate lighting, heating and cooling systems at the touch of a button; or enjoy the convenience of robust video-entry and the reliability of a foolproof security system – an integrated solution makes it all possible, without a black box or wire in sight.
Achieving this functionality for your clients is easier than you may think – there is a network of professional AMX integrators out there who can help you cut through the technological clutter to achieve a solution that will genuinely make everything much easier for your clients, and yourself, without a lot of behind-the-scenes complexity.
An AMX integrator will help you establish what your clients would like and what they need, as well as what they don’t need. They will also help you explain or demonstrate the difference between those things in a way that your clients can trust. Using their expertise and experience, an integrator will come up with a technical design which will give you and the other professionals on the project exactly what you need to incorporate the various systems into your scheme.@page_break@
An integrator will help you incorporate the stuff you ‘have’ to do (security, basic telephone, data, TV wiring etc) in the best value and most discreet way possible. This will free-up space, time and budget for the stuff that you and your client ‘want’ to do. So, whether your client aspires to a dedicated cinema with 7.1 surround sound, or a more modest set-up; an AMX integrator will ensure that they get the technological experience that they want.
And, whether your integrator decides to conceal all the equipment (and design for a drop-down screen and projector when needed) or to use a large, flat-panel display and in-ceiling speakers in a multi-purpose room; consultation at the design stage will ensure that your clean architectural lines aren’t interrupted by trailing wires and that the technology enhances, rather than detracts from the overall look.
On a practical level, an AMX integrator will work with you and your client to ensure that systems can be controlled easily, reliably and with the minimum of fuss. Touchpanel control, whether that is a single, elegant in-wall panel or a wireless handheld remote, can greatly simplify the user experience and reduce the need for a plethora of different dials and devices on the wall. It is possible to give your clients a single point of control over all their in-house technology, regardless of where that technology is located.
Your integrator will think about what control your clients would be most comfortable with – a simple light switch in the bathroom, perhaps, or a scene-setting keypad in the bedroom, or a touchscreen in the media room – and come up with a control solution that fits. Your clients can have access to all system functions, or just what they want. The integrator will programme the system to suit and customise the interface accordingly, so that your clients are left with an intuitive and easy to operate solution.@page_break@
Don’t forget that integrated technology can be used to help your clients fulfil their green aspirations too. Most energy consumption in developed nations is used in homes for heating, lighting and home electronics, but a unified approach to home automation will allow these functions to be centrally-controlled and intelligently managed. Integrated control stops heating and cooling systems ‘fighting’; making everything work much more efficiently. An integrator can programme the system to be as simple, or as sophisticated, as your client demands; relating to local temperature, weather information from the internet, or reacting to a regular in-room thermostat.
Modern lighting control systems allow artificial lighting to react to the levels of daylight (as well as occupancy). Local scene-setting switches can be provided to help your clients save energy and get the quality of light they need without wastage. It’s also possible to use automated blinds to reduce glare and minimise solar gain, avoiding the need for cooling. Taken together, these steps can make a massive difference to the overall energy consumption. In addition, a touchpanel can be used as an energy dashboard; relaying dynamic feedback and allowing users to make informed choices to reduce consumption, at the right time.
What’s more, an AMX integrator will help you achieve all this functionality using simple, industry-standard cabling. AMX’s Ethernet-based control systems work on a well understood, inexpensive wiring backbone, meaning that various systems can communicate effectively throughout a property at minimum capital cost.
Finally, an AMX installer will support you and your client through the installation process as well as providing aftercare. They’ll make sure everything is documented and installed neatly, produce a simple user guide, and make sure that your clients are happy using everything. They’ll remind them of what was agreed, show them how it has been implemented and how to use it. Staying in touch with them will help your clients get the most out of their investment, and your time, for years to come.
Jonathan Mangnall is sales director at AMX
For details of your nearest AMX integrator, or to find out more about AMX’s latest, RIBA-approved CPD module, Integrated Controls, contact AMX on +44 (0) 1904 343 100.
Photos courtesy of AMX and SMC