It’s April 6 here in Los Gatos, CA. We live and work in Santa Clara County, home of one of the nation’s first “shelter-in-place” programs that began 21 days ago. My personal and professional life has changed dramatically from how I envisioned the year 2020 would unfold. Optimism for another successful year of business growth has been severely dampened by the coronavirus pandemic. I am over 65 and a local public health order strongly recommends that I stay at home. Fortunately, cyberManor has a great team and we’re all doing the best to get through these challenging times. And custom installation companies like ours are considered “essential businesses” and are still allowed to stay open.
This extended period of working at home has given me a lot of time to contemplate the real and enduring value of cyberManor’s products and services in a time when it’s never been truer that there is no place like home. I’ve thought a lot about our company’s value-added expertise today — and how that will evolve in the near future — and have determined that we’ll have to learn to demonstrate our expertise at designing and engineering healthy living-at-home solutions by leveraging our home technology expertise. The current pandemic only accelerates that trend.
Over the last year we’ve read and heard a lot about biophilia and wellness living. Our company’s strength has always been in providing great whole-house audio and video solutions, lighting control solutions, network infrastructure, control systems, and more, including recently adding high resolution, networked security camera installations. Spending the last 21 days at home has given me time to more clearly evaluate how we can best leverage our expertise in residential technologies to make living at home a healthier experience.
Related: Riding the Wellness Wave
In the very near future we will increasingly focus our design and engineering efforts on supporting an intelligent home platform that focuses on the following categories of living well. These are categories listed in the Delos guide The Science Behind Healthy Homes and from the WELL Certification program. cyberManor has included many of these intelligent wellness technologies in our new Control4 Certified Home Technology Center, which was recently completed and is located behind our main office.
- Indoor Air Quality
- Lighting Control
- Thermal Comfort
- Water and Hygiene
- Interior and Landscape Design
- Energy Efficiency
Let’s examine each of these categories in more detail and discuss the technology solutions we’ve installed in our new showroom home that demonstrate our expertise in each of these areas.
Indoor Air Quality
To improve the indoor air quality, we have installed Velux’s intelligent solar powered skylights and Haiku’s Big Ass Fan. We have also installed the new Panasonic Cosmos Whisper Green Select fan in our guest bathroom. When an unhealthy odor is detected in the kitchen by the Cosmos IAQ sensor, it automatically turns on the nearby guest bath fan to exhaust the contaminated air. Soon we will be programming our Control4 system to use the Cosmos IAQ unhealthy air trigger to open the skylights and turn on the fan that is adjacent to the kitchen to remove the unhealthy air automatically.
With the Control4 centralized lighting system and DMX controllable under-cabinet kitchen lights we can provide customized dimmable lighting scenes for different times of the day to simulate outdoor lighting conditions. We’ve also installed automated stairwell nightlights to minimize sleep disruption when someone gets out of bed in the middle of the night.
Our Control4 system manages the Ecobee thermostat for total home air and cooling comfort, as well as the NuTone signature heated flooring in the master bathroom. In addition, our Control4 system is programmed in the summer to open the living room skylights and turn on the Haiku smart fan when the indoor temperature is higher than 78 degrees, thereby reducing the time that the air conditioner needs to be powered on.
Water and Hygiene
Kohler is a major sponsor of our showroom and they have donated water filtration systems for our kitchen and shower. The intelligent Kohler Konnect DTV+ shower technology installed in the master bathroom provides a massage-like hydrotherapy experience from the eight programmable, connected valves in the shower. The steam shower provides an aromatherapy experience when we place scented oils on the top of the shower steam valve. Healthy home “hands-free” hygiene practices are supported by the Kohler Sensate kitchen faucet, which can be turned on or off with a simple hand wave, and the intelligent Veil toilets where the lids open and close using a proximity sensor.
To harmonize with the natural 100-year-old oak tree in front of the home that provides a canopy of oak branches over the skylights, white oak has also been used inside the lofted home ceiling and the stairwell railing that goes up to the master bedroom. To provide a quiet and comfortable hardwood floor experience, 1/8-inch rubber padding was installed beneath the hardwood flooring.
Surrounding the perimeter of the home are three Luma cameras and a Control4 Door Access station that monitor and record movement. These images can be viewed from each C4 touchscreen throughout the home and the Electric Loft Mirror installed in the master bathroom. Behind this mirror is an Android-based computer running a Control4 app that allows one to view all the home’s cameras when standing in front of this intelligent mirror. The home is also equipped with the Baldwin Evolve intelligent lock that can be programmed for secure entry by individual code and time of day.
Interior and Landscape Design
The landscape and interior design are integrated to give an indoor/outdoor living experience. The oak tree can be visible from all the front windows and skylights. The rear garden has a living plant wall behind the kitchen sliding glass door that enhances the outdoor feel of the kitchen area of the home. Control4 automated fountains in front of the home and in the backyard enhance the feeling of being outside when you are inside the home.
The home is powered by 12 photovoltaic panels that deliver up to 15 KWH to the home or the sonnen 10-KWH battery located in the garage. When solar is available, the power is delivered directly to the home and/or battery, and in the evening the solar-charged battery delivers most of the home’s power requirements during the summer months. To maximize the sonnen battery life, 16 Schneider Electric Smart Circuits have been installed and controlled by a Pantech Adapt panel that automatically sheds loads that are not needed during a power outage situation.
The contemporary kitchen is highlighted by the intelligent Home Connect Bosch/Thermador line of appliances. Each of the cooking appliances connect to the internet for recipes and optimal food preparation settings. Even the Thermador Express coffee maker connects to the cloud for coffee recipes from around the world that can be instantly downloaded to the coffee maker. On the roof we’ve installed a vegetable garden, irrigated by a smart Rachio watering system, that provides fresh vegetables through the spring and summer.
All of the connected electronics in the home can be controlled by voice, including the kitchen and laundry room appliances, the Meural digital picture frames, and even the Kohler hydrotherapy shower. Voice control provides the most natural user interface to all the home’s technologies and provides some very compelling usage cases such as “I’m home” and “I’m leaving.” These commands provide a very simple-to-use interface that triggers automated, simultaneous control of the centralized lighting system, shades, skylights, HVAC systems, audio, and security systems.
The backbone for all of these healthy home technology solutions is, once again, the home network. Its health is vital to the home’s technology health and performance. As custom integrators we have become an industry of home networking specialists for distributed audio/video, lighting, security, comfort, and camera solutions. Now we can extend our networking expertise into the integration of healthy home technology solutions that exist in every room inside the home. Life lived best at home, now more than ever, requires the ongoing support of a custom electronics integrator — and that’s a long-term recipe for our industry’s success.
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