Home smart home
Advances in wireless technology, coupled with falling prices, will bring intelligent living to the masses, whether it's turning off the heat from a cell phone or keeping tabs on your kids' web-surfing habits.
Michael Mccarthy, Vancouver Courier
Published: Friday, March 28, 2008
At the Smart Home Shop in North Vancouver, managing partner Drew Campbell has built an entire house indoors to show off even more nifty gadgets, like the enormous home theatre with drop-down screen and hidden projector that rich folks in places like West Vancouver can afford. He gives a tour of the home, pointing out hidden features. Speakers are secreted in lamps and desks and behind pictures that turn into giant plasma TV sets at the flick of a switch. Closed-circuit TV is built in throughout the home.
Opening a closet door, Campbell displays a vast stack of electronic toys that even Hugh Hefner couldn't have dreamed up for the Playboy Mansion a few years back. Stereo and home theatre amplifiers, tuners, surge protectors, 400 disk CD and DVD changers, a video matrix switcher and Linux-based CPU all hum quietly as they control eight separate zones throughout the display home. The long-promised land of digital convergence is upon us, morphed into one multi-tasking component. Work and play have become indistinguishable and paper has gone the way of the Dodo.
But who's buying all these incredible technological marvels?
Campbell says his customer base would surprise you. It's not just rich folks in West Vancouver or kids who have inherited family wealth, or high-end earners like rock stars or NHL players. No, it's largely middle-aged people with families and young professionals who consider technology a wise investment.
"Some custom integrators go for the top three per cent, the ultra rich people who can afford to customize their home just for fun, but we are more top 30 focused," says Campbell. "Our customers might also shop at Best Buy or Future Shop. Entertainment is a key selling factor, but for many of our customers it's about keeping the family at home by sharing media. It's about entertainment, but also about functionality and productivity. It's also an investment in the future."
The family of tomorrow might see mom and dad coming home from their jobs toting their laptops and Blackberries, joining the kids after dinner at the kitchen table, everyone online, working and playing. No more wondering where the kids are going at night; they're sitting next to you playing on their Xbox while you switch back and forth from doing your taxes to watching CNN and listening to Michael Buble. And if you're out and the kids are home alone, your computer will alert you via cell phone if they're watching or surfing what they shouldn't. Via cell phone, you can have total access to your home, and in case of any emergency the company that built your in-house system can access and fix it from afar.
"Suppose you have gone on vacation, and pre-set your thermostats to a certain level," says Campbell, "and the outside temperature drops, freezing your pipes. We can tell the plumbing system to let the water flow so your pipes don't freeze up. We can also increase or decrease the heat inside your home. A difference of a few degrees can make a big difference in your heating bill over time."
But do people spend $35,000 to $50,000--the average cost of customizing an entire house with wireless technology--for entertainment or to save a few dollars on heating bills? The answer is a resounding "no." What's important is the appreciation of the investment. A condo can increase as much as $100,000 in value when digitally automated, a single-family home even more.
"It's not just wealthy folks in West Vancouver--our customers are all over the Lower Mainland," says Campbell. "And it's not just home renovations that we do. We get a lot of developers dropping by here to see the latest technology and they incorporate it into the new homes they are building. Installation of wireless technology can add huge value to a new home."
posted by Smart Home Shop