As one of the Netherlands’ leading integrators for more than a decade, De Opera Domotica director Jacco Troost is well-placed to track the ascendance of the home automation business. In the wake of Finalist and Highly Commended recognition at this year’s CEDIA Awards, and the completion of a major upgrade to his company’s residential technology showroom, he tells David Davies why home automation’s move into the mainstream should not be achieved at the expense of high-quality integration.
For how long have you been involved with De Opera Domotica and what are the company’s primary areas of business at the present time?
I founded De Opera in 1999 as a custom installation company specialising in high-end audio, cinema and multiroom solutions. Subsequently, we became the first company in the Netherlands focused on the residential market to have a fully functional home automation showroom.
From 2007 onwards, De Opera Domotica has evolved to become a dedicated CI company, combining the highest level of competence in IT and communications systems with more focus on lighting control, fiber solutions and high-end home theatre.
The primary area of business is the complete engineering of the electro-technical infrastructure: lighting design, IT infrastructure, telephone system, entertainment systems, acoustical treatment & design, HVAC control, and video surveillance & security.
As you see it, what are the main issues currently affecting the residential AV market in the Netherlands?
At the moment there’s a huge interest in home automation systems across the board. One result of this trend is that a lot of companies are entering the market pretending to provide a totally integrated solution for the customer, but instead are delivering packages mostly based around iPad control; they’re not engineered to the specific application. The lack of integration will not be immediately clear to the customer, but will be discovered when the project is complete.
What has been your most important residential installation project of the last year – and why?
In fact, it’s taking place right now – we’re executing one of the largest home automation installations in the Netherlands. It’s a great project, encompassing a dedicated high-end 3D home theatre for 12 people, an events room, fiber-based distribution of audio & video sources, IP telephone system, 1G/10G IT infrastructure, and more. We’re responsible for engineering the complete technical infrastructure and all interfaces to HVAC, security and video surveillance, allowing us to guarantee a totally integrated system to the highest possible level.
Please tell me about the recent showroom project involving dnp and Genesis Technologies. How did this come about and what are your feelings regarding the end-result?
We decided to upgrade the showroom with the latest audio and video systems in order to present state-of-the-art solutions to our customers. While searching for the best products/brands we contacted Genesis Technologies to supply dnp, DPI and Wisdom systems. The projection system consists of the Digital Projection LED projector with a dnp Supernova ONE screen: this yields an amazing picture with very nice, saturated colours and exceptional contrast. The Supernova screen with LED projector is a marriage made in heaven, while the Wisdom 7.2 audio system with line arrays delivers an incredible sound solution for both music and movie sources.
In what ways has the home automation showroom assisted you in spreading the word about this technology?
The showroom is very important in that it allows us to inform our customers about the services we can offer and, most importantly, the ease-of-use that comes with a high quality home automation system. We have a variety of in-wall and portable touchscreens, allowing the customer to experience a number of options for the control of entertainment, lighting, HVAC and security systems.
Has home automation technology crossed over into the mainstream of life in the Netherlands yet?
There is increasing acceptance of home automation as a solution for the integration of multiple systems. With the advent of the iPad, people have become more familiar with touchscreen convenience, heralding a new demand for automation in ‘middle class homes’.
Moreover, greater access to economically-minded entry-level solutions is fuelling interest in more extensive integration. By way of example, we recently signed up to become a NuVo MasterDealer, allowing us to offer electrical contractors and installers a simple, affordable multi-room audio solution for every new project. Our observation is that this often triggers the end-user to take an interest in this area of technology and consider the possibilities of full home automation.
As to the future, the introduction of more products that can work on an open standard will help home automation to develop as a standard within 10 years. I think that we also need some sort of ‘Design Bible’ for the architect that allows them to incorporate entertainment systems and home automation into their designs from the earliest stages. An independent/trade organisation, such as CEDIA, would be well-placed to produce this kind of document.