I spent a lot of my teen years interested in my car, my music and my friends. However, Matthew Lieberman isn’t your average 17-year-old. He’s an avid technology buff, who never misses a CES and longs to attend the CEDIA Expo. He’s also possibly the only teen that has helped to automate a 4,000-square-foot house in the Hamptons.
His family’s recently completed summer home was new construction, which took about two years to build. Yes, Matthew started planning this system at the ripe old age of 15, using the pages of Electronic House and his “mostly self-taught” computer programming skills.
“I’ve always been interested in technology, my whole life,” he says. “It’s been my biggest passion, ever since I was like zero. It’s all I can ever focus on.”
This summer house project finally gave Matthew a place to channel that focus. The family’s main residence is an apartment in New York City, which doesn’t have a lot of room for a lot of technology. Even though he’s installed Insteon-controlled lighting and Nest thermostats there, this was a whole different playground for his programming skills. “Most of this is all new to us,” says Matthew. “This is our first house with such a full and complete home automation system.”
By day, Matthew channels his passion for technology into his school’s computer science AP class, where he’s currently working on Java development and different programming languages. When he’s not in school, he spends a good amount of time checking out c4Forums.com, an online community where he can find all sorts of new and interesting features for his summer residence. One of those discoveries included the Recluse AV Text to Speech Driver, which can translate text to speech for certain actions in the home. However, Matthew says that his favorite part is that the driver allows for “variables.” For instance, when someone in the master bedroom wakes up, they can get a message alerting them to who else is up around the house, as well as current weather information. When one of the residents enters the house, the Control4 system will greet the person by name and welcome them home.
“It’s kind of a tight-knit community of like-minded Control4 enthusiasts and we all work together to share ideas and collaborate on different ways to enhance our Control4,” Matthew says of the online support. “I heard about the driver through that website.”
Adding in voice prompts is just one of the many features that Matthew programmed by himself, with help from the aforementioned online forums and Home Technology Experts, an installation company out of Southampton, New York.
“Yes, it was in conjunction with the dealer,” he says. “I don’t have access to Composer Pro, which is kind of like the higher level of the software. There’s certain things you’re restricted in with Control4, in the Composer Home Edition.”
HTE was the right installer for the family, but it wasn’t their first. An anonymous installer tried to tackle the job, but wasn’t too receptive to Matthew’s ideas. Matthew then touched base with HTE’s Alex Karoussos. “We just clicked right away,” he says. “I knew that this guy really knew his stuff.”
Matthew knew that they had found the right installer. However, Karoussos didn’t know that he had found one of his toughest customers. Matthew says that they went through about 15 revisions of the system during the install. “He [Karoussos] says I’m one of his worst customers because I wanted the most revisions,” Matthew says.
Follow Electronic House
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.