Lights that switch on automatically at dusk: Been there. Thermostats that set back when the security system is armed: Done that. But a shower that’s preset to the perfect temperature and water velocity, an iron that warms up in preparation for the morning rush, and a chandelier that flashes to indicate that the powder room is out of toilet paper?
Completely uncommon automation scenarios, says Drew Balsman of HD Media Systems in Jackson, Mo., “yet they make perfect sense for the family that lives in this house.”
Take the iron scenario. As Mom Angie explains, with school uniforms, husband Shannon’s work shirts and other items to press almost daily, it streamlines the morning rush to have the iron good and hot the second she hits the laundry room. That’s all Angie had to tell Balsman and partner Scott Starzinger. The HD Media Systems team programmed the Davis’ Savant automation system to make that magic happen. As Angie gets dressed, she taps a button on a Vantage wall-mounted keypad in her walk-in closet and the Savant system turns on the iron. It’s a simple implementation of technology, but little control tricks like this are making a huge difference in the efficiency of their household, Angie and Shannon agree.
The family-friendly, tasteful and clean interior design contributes to the nice, easy flow of the home, too. Fashioned by Jeff Lewis, star of the Bravo TV series Flipping Out (read about Lewis’ take on technology on page 15), the rooms provide a calm, soothing backdrop for some truly incredible applications of technology.
It may seem an easy matter to fill up a bathtub or start a shower, but for Angie and Shannon Davis, being able to do so from an iPad is quicker and more convenient. They can hit the start button while tucking the kids in bed, then step into a bath that’s already drawn at the perfect water temperature. And because the Moen system provides presets for each user, HD Media Systems included those commands on the iPad and other home control interfaces. Shannon’s shower button sets the water temperature, showerheads and velocity to his liking; Angie’s button does the same for her.
Although HD Media Systems was instrumental in designing, installing and programming the Savant system that runs Angie and Shannon’s 5,500-square foot “contemporary craftsman” home, Balsman credits Shannon as the mastermind behind many of its unique and clever automation features. “He’s an extreme early adopter who is always looking for new ways to utilize technology.” Often, being on the “bloody cutting edge,” can be painful, admits Shannon, but not when it came to learning to use and live with the Savant automation system.
The fact that it runs on an Apple-based operating system had a lot to do with the pain-free adoption of automation. “We are Apple fiends,” says Shannon. “We own eight iPads, eight iPhones and four [iPod] touches, and use Mac computers exclusively.” Balsman and Starzinger transformed these mobile devices into home control interfaces by downloading Savant’s app onto them. After that, they customized the onscreen layouts by adding special buttons, icons and sliders to simplify the navigation of the home control menus and commands. The screen looks the same on every device, be it a wall-mounted iPad in the kitchen or the iPhone in Shannon’s pocket. Several TVs can display the Savant control menu, too, with navigation performed via a handheld remote control. The addition of the Savant home control app affected none of the iPads’ or iPhones’ functionality. The Davises still use them to download and store music from iTunes, check the weather forecast and log on to their favorite websites.
Prepped to Party
Quick and easy access to music and video has made the Davis residence a favorite hangout of family and friends. “We had at least 400 people here for an open house around Christmas,” says Angie. “We had a playlist of music playing through the entire house and pictures of our house being built displayed on every TV.” Fifteen zones of virtually undetectable Sonance in-ceiling speakers delivered the audio; and 10 displays, including a 110-inch Vutec screen in the media room (see photo, page 13), presented the video.
For this and any gathering they host, the Davises welcome visitors to mix things up by popping their own iPhones into the in-wall docking stations. Partygoers are encouraged to make special requests, too. Say a group wants to catch a football game. “Right from the kitchen iPad I can turn off the music in the media room, lower the motorized screen from the ceiling and call up the game,” says Angie. The kids, meanwhile, can congregate on the upper level of the house—dubbed the kids’ zone—where they can listen to their own music courtesy of a docking station in the hallway, or play video games on the 50-inch TV in the playroom.
The deck off the back side of the house is a party-pleaser, too. Music is directed to the 13 Sonance weatherproof speakers that line the perimeter, and video is cued up on a custom-designed 55-inch weatherproof LED TV that’s recessed into the brickwork of an outdoor fireplace. HD Media Systems installed the three front speakers within the hearth and placed the subwoofer under the deck to create a full 5.1 surround-sound effect.
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