Order the CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles® Issue: Home Tech Goes Full Throttle
The CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles ® Fall 2013 Expo Edition is available now. Handsomely produced with striking photography, the magazine's departments, columns and features inspire the audience of architects, building designers, interior designers and builders to embrace the integration of technology in the home. You can purchase 1-9 copies for $9.95 each, or 10+ for $7.95 each, a number that drops to $6.95 each at the show. Order your copies here.
When newbies get excited about home technology, a world of options opens up.
The uninitiated homeowner is often the most fun to work with, as they start to comprehend what an integrated system can actually do and their eyes light up with the possibilities. Such was the case on this whole-home integration and home theater by DSI Entertainment Systems. “From the beginning, this client had the same expectations every other client has. The system must be good, look good, and be easy to use,” says Josh Colletta, system designer for DSI. “However, once the original system was deployed, their expectations shifted from ‘just get it done so we can check it off the list’ to ‘this is great ... what else can it do?’ ”
It all started with the lighting system. Colletta and his team included basic lighting design in the beginning, but the clients didn’t anticipate how good their rooms and décor were going to look with custom-programmed lighting scenes. “They were used to living in a home where every circuit is either all on or all off,” says Colletta. “By the end of the project, we ended up including almost every room in the lighting control system.” Crestron makes it all easy, with the Lighting PAC2M Lighting Control Processor as the star of the system.
A similar phenomenon happened when it came to the audio system. The homeowners originally thought it would only be used periodically for entertaining, but as they began to realize just how much they enjoyed it, they not only added more zones to the system, they also discovered and had to have Pandora and Rhapsody, as well as their Sirius radio and two iPod docks. They now play music throughout the house on a constant basis through James Loudpseaker in-walls.
But it was the iPad integration that was far and away the biggest hit. “They had no expectations here because they didn’t think it was possible to control all of the home’s functions—climate, lights, security, A/V, pool/spa, and more from their iPad. Now, it’s a ritual to prep the house every day on the drive home,” Colletta says.
While exposing these newbies to the world of home automation was the most exciting part of the project for DSI, the resultant expansion of the system’s scope was the most demanding. “Our biggest challenge was taking an entry-level system and expanding it to a full-blown automated home at the tail-end of the construction process,” says Colletta. “Thankfully, we had the foresight to run enough wire in the beginning, and to develop the original system so it could handle the 11th-hour expansion without us having to completely re-engineer the system.”
After all is said and done, the complete system encompasses a full Crestron A/V system with 12 zones of audio and five zones of video. Each video zone includes access to Apple TV, Blu-ray and DirecTV and is controlled by a Crestron MTX-3 remote control or iPad. The house audio system sends music throughout the house and landscape speaker system, and is controlled from any in-wall touchpanel, wireless remote, or iPad. The integration side of the system includes 88 zones of lighting, six zones of HVAC via Crestron thermostats, a security system, and pool/spa control.
Downstairs in the basement, a 22-by-18-foot dedicated theater awaits homeowners. A Digital Projection M-VISION-CINE-260 1080p projector and 130-inch Stewart Filmscreen combo provide incredible video, while a 7.1 James Loudspeaker surround-sound system immerses viewers in the moment.
As with all of DSI’s projects, user interface was a primary focus. The company gave the homeowner the ability to control any sub-system quickly from the homepage, with each sub-system represented by a picture or animation, making it easy to recognize and understand. “We also give our clients the ability to create their own lighting scenes, music presets, climate schedules, and channel presets manually because we know they don’t like paying us to come out for simple tasks like these,” says Colletta.
Most clients these days don’t want their homes doing things automatically. “Frankly, it scares them to death when things happen unexpectedly; they sometimes think there’s a glitch with the system if too many tasks are automated.” The genius behind the DSI user interface is that it’s simple to use, yet easy for the homeowner to change. If they are unhappy with the intensity of the lighting in a scene, they simply select the advanced tab and adjust the bar graphs for each circuit to the desired levels, and click “Save.” It’s as simple as that.
“That once unenthusiastic client turned into the ‘how can I do more?’ client, and we’re proud of that,” says Colletta. “Our integration system helped them to discover new ways to listen to music, new ways to watch movies through the world of streaming media, and most importantly, how lighting control can completely change the beauty and character of a room.”