Rise and shine has taken on a whole new meaning at the lakeshore home of Drs. Carol Parlow and Joseph Fairbrother. Their luxury condominium on the northern shores of Lake Ontario awakens before they do, as the outdoor lights begin to dim, the kitchen lights activate and the window shades rise.
As busy as these two physicians are, they found a way to get their day started as simply and smoothly as possible: by using a Crestron home control system to orchestrate operation of various electronic devices in their home. And it’s not just the morning routine that the Crestron system has streamlined. The sophisticated home control system makes the home fun like a well-oiled machine all day long.
Catering to a Busy Lifestyle
The “Morning” scene is just one of 10 programs designed to fit the doctors’ lifestyle, even when they aren’t home. Home systems integration company OneTouch Automation, of Oakville, Ontario, incorporated a Crestron control system that takes command of the home’s lighting, entertainment gear, thermostats, security system, and the gas fireplace.
“Now that we are in a modern place, we thought control should be modern as well,” says Dr. Parlow, who describes herself as a tech geek. “We just knew it should be easy to get everything automated, like the music, lighting, and shades.”
While the doctors go about their daily routines, so does the condo, but that doesn’t mean the homeowners can’t take cover when they want to. While some scenes like “Morning” are set to run automatically, others are triggered manually when the doctors interact with touchscreens, remotes, and keypads located in various places throughout the home.
Lighting Leads the Way
OneTouch Automation began its design and programming work with the scenes that impact the home’s lights. “Lighting is the most important system in the house,” says Naz Kawsar, OneTouch principal. “You always have to have lights.” Certain lights illuminate automatically in the morning and at dusk, and dim to five percent in the hallways during the night. “That’s enough light for someone to walk around safely, but not too much to disturb someone who is sleeping,” Kawsar explains. “The “Night” scene also keeps the outside lights on from dusk to dawn.”
Made in the Shade
With 23 floor-to-ceiling windows and patio doors, the next order of business was automating the shading. “When you have a lot of blinds on the windows, the thought of opening every single one is a little overwhelming,” Dr. Parlow says. The OneTouch programmers configured the Crestron system to command the shades to open and close automatically throughout the day.
For example, the living room shades lower midday, just as the sun’s rays begin to stream through the living room window. This helps keep the room cool without taxing the home’s HVAC system. It also helps protect the furnishings and carpet from UV damage.
The time-of-day control is handled by the Crestron system’s built-in astronomical timeclock, which dispatches commands based on the daily sunrise and sunset. “Without the astronomical clock, it would be very hard to determine when sunset happens on, say, January 7 or October 5,” Kawsar says. “We just input the latitude and longitude of the home and the system automatically adjusts the time for the shades to lower or rise based on the position of the sun.” For on the spot control, a touch of the “Privacy” button on any Crestron touchscreen, remote, or keypad signals the shades in a given room to open or close.
Concert Quality Sound
Once Kawsar and his team felt comfortable with the design of the lighting and shading operation, they began working on the home’s audio and video systems, with audio taking priority. “Dr. Parlow has a huge collection of music and she wanted to hear all the music uncompressed, the way it was recorded,” says Kawsar. “We loaded all her music and movies onto Crestron’s digital media server and installed high-quality ceiling speakers to play it back at the best possible quality.”
Audio sources include the media server, AM, FM and satellite radio, plus a Crestron docking station for the iPod. Video sources include cable, Apple TV, and a Kaleidescape movie server for DVD and Blu-ray discs. Each room has a Crestron light switch and either a keypad or touchscreen for full room control. The doctors can select audio sources, browse through music libraries, play songs, and adjust volume from the touchscreen or keypad in the room. For addition convenience, the light switch also features buttons for volume control. “It’s like you are in a concert hall,” says Kawsar. “It’s an out of this world experience.”
It was important to the doctors that operating this system would be simple, even though there are many components to a system of this size and scale. From the kitchen touchscreen, they can simply drag-and-drop an audio or video source icon onto the room or area they choose and instantly enjoy the content. They can call up any programmed scene, check the weather, control the lighting and shade position in any given room, adjust the heating or air conditioning, and even go online, all by simply touching an icon.
They can also watch TV on the same 24-inch touchscreen that presents home control options. “I like the fact that you can have different sources in different areas of the house,” says Dr. Parlow. “My husband might watch the Masters in the living room, while I have music on in the kitchen.” Dr. Parlow also has the ability to project her laptop contents onto any video display in the house, which allows her to easily review patient files at home. “I don’t have a specific office in the house. I want to look at my work on a big screen because I have trouble seeing it on the small screen. Instead of having an ugly computer monitor sitting on a desk in the middle of the room, I can just sit down in a chair and display it on a large screen TV.”
The doctors initially told Kawsar what they wanted the home to do on its own, but they added and subtracted things after living there for a few months and figuring out their routine. They have presets for just about every scenario, even ones they hope never to use. A push of the “Panic” button flashes all the lights in the home until help arrives, while going on vacation couldn’t be made any easier. “If you go on holiday, you press a “Vacation” button and it simulates your behavior when you’re home,” says Dr. Parlow. “So the lights go on and off and the shades go up and down, making it look like you’re home.
It’s always good to arrive home after a long day’s work, but for the doctors, homecoming is as simple and welcoming as possible. A push of the garage door opener triggers the garage lights, the interior hallway lights that lead to the elevator, and several other lights, while soft music begins to play throughout the condo. Without a doubt, Crestron has given the doctors the kind of living experience they wanted. The most comprehensive technology offered today, combined with a luxurious living environment, makes home life simple, safe, and stress-free.
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