December 21, 2012 by Lisa Montgomery
This home office is anything but stuffy. A glass wall opens the area up to the rest of the house while still offering occupants plenty of privacy—especially when that glass magically changes from clear to translucent. All it takes is a tap of a button, appropriately labeled “Fog Glass,” on a Lutron keypad to excite the electronic particles inside the glass that make it opaque. “One command puts the space into stealth mode,” says Jeff Galea, CEO and president of custom electronics design and installation firm Boca Theater & Automation, Boca Raton, Fla.
When the glass is transparent anyone who passes by can clearly see the 75-inch diagonal screen that was designed by Boca Theater & Automation to also play a visual trick. Again, only when a button is pressed does the screen reveal itself, slowly descending from its home-base in the ceiling. In this position, the Stewart Filmscreen can do one of two things: masquerade as an virtual aquarium by displaying high-res images of ocean life, or function as a traditional TV by displaying movies from the owner’s huge video library that’s been stored on a Kaleidescape video server, or streaming video from one of two Apple TV boxes. There are also programs on six satellite receivers and a cable box available to watch. The owner reviews his options and makes his selection via few quick taps on the screen of an AMX touchpanel. The equipment, stowed out of sight in a remote closet, delivers the video via high-end cabling to a Panasonic projector that was mounted on a shelf on the back wall.
The video system didn’t always function exactly this way, though, says Galea. Originally, a screen was suspended from the ceiling using invisible fishing line. “We wanted to give the impression that the TV was hanging in mid-air,” Galea explains. While the installation was unique, the owners weren’t completely sold on the concept of having such a large screen visible at all times, and after a few months swapped the 3M Vikuti projection screen from Spyeglass for the motorized setup from Stewart Filmscreen. The original two rectangular, in-ceiling, Z-Series audiophile-grade speakers from Sonance stayed right where they were, though, complementing the video with high-end audio.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.
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