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Five things you need to know before you invest in home automation.

Control4
Control4 offers the ultimate in home automation—and so much more—by making the products and systems you already have and use everyday, work together. Learn how home automation can benefit your life in ways you never imagined possible. Below are five things you need to know before you invest in home automation.

1. Do you have the right home for automation?
2. Determine what you want to automate
3. You’ll need the help of a professional—and that’s a good thing
4. Evaluate your home network
5. Expect the Unexpected

Download the Advanced Guide which investigates the 5 points in more detail.

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Discussing Home Automation Concerns

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For the past decade, smart home technology has been viewed as something that only the incredibly wealthy, or incredibly technologically aware, possess. High prices, complicated installations, and intricate technology have contributed to the belief that a completely automated home was something reserved for movie superhero alter-egos of the Clark Kent variety, and millionaires. Recently, however, the rapid proliferation of mobile internet and smartphones, along with an increasing number of companies choosing to invest in more user intuitive home automation products, has made the idea of a “smart home” more attainable than ever.
So if a system is more affordable, and easily connects to products many homeowners already have, why isn’t everyone opting for a more intelligent, wireless home? We turned to social media to find the answers, and what we found, using data from
Viral Heat, was that while over 50% of Twitter users discussing home automation were entirely positive about the idea, around 25% still had concerns regarding home automation systems. The top concerns are discussed below:
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Home Automation a Rising Trend at CES 2014

CES

In January the annual Consumer Electronics show will once be taking place at the Las Vegas Convention Center. From January 7th-10th 2014, all the latest products will be debuted, from televisions, to tablets, PCs to speakers.
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Smart Homes Market Worth $51.77 Billion by 2020

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"Smart Homes Market - by Products (Security, Access, Lighting, Entertainment, Energy Management Systems, HVAC, and Ballast & Battery Pack), Services (Installation & Repair, Renovation & Customization) and Geography - Analysis & Forecast (2013 - 2020)'’, published by Markets and Markets, the total market for the Global Smart Homes Market will be worth $51.77 billion by 2020 at an estimated CAGR of 17.74%.

Read the full story
here

Home Automation’s Power to Simplify Your Life, Reduce Expenses, and Increase Security

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In today’s costly world, homeowners are fully aware of the expenses related to inflated energy costs and inefficient home security systems. There is nothing worse than receiving an electricity bill and being shocked by the amount owed at the end of a month or stolen possessions that could have been more strategically secured. Such realities have led homeowners to seek technologies that can help them beat the current system.
A growing number of homeowners are educating themselves on basic energy management and security devices, which often combine the use of innovate shade and control systems. For instance, Control4 offers a number of solutions that help homeowners monitor and control their home lighting from an iPad, iPhone, or wireless remote. With Control4, you can pre-program lighting levels and reduce energy output. It is also amazingly easy to set lighting to turn on and off at specific times. This significantly reduces the possibility of a light being left on throughout the night, or for several days while a homeowner is on vacation. Additionally, with Control4’s remote access service, no matter where in the world a homeowner travels he or she can turn lights on or off with a simple touchscreen command.

To make the management of lighting much easier to maintain, Control4 offers keypads with captions that can read “kitchen”, “hallway”, “master bedroom”, “patio”, and more. With a push of a single button, lighting is ignited in a desired location. The Control4 suite of products also offers dimmers that allow for lights to be set to a particular level.

Another ground breaking product for ultimate lighting, shading, security, and energy control is the Lutron RadioRA 2. The system is a holistic approach that combines total light and shade functionality. Radio RA 2 has the power to adjust the amount of daylight and electric light in a room throughout an entire home. Shades can also be lowered, electric powered curtains closed, and lighting ignited at pre-programed times. For instance, if particular rooms within a home are in direct sunlight in the afternoon, the lowering of window shades and closing of curtains can significantly reduce room temperatures. Or when the family is on vacation and dusk approaches, lowered shades, closed curtains, and automated lighting can offer higher levels of security. And for the family that has developed a high-tech home theatre, with the single push of a button window shades can be lowered and lights set to a particular level to create the perfect ambiance.

Many homeowners love the fact that both the Control4 and RadioRA 2 systems are fully scalable. This provides homeowners the power to start with a single room and expand when time and budget permits.

Seeking to automate your home for added simplicity, comfort, energy efficiency, and security? The beauty of 2012 is that homeowners have more control than ever before!

The secret to discovering and installing a solution that best fits your needs is to consult with a personalized home automation expert. At Digital Smart Homes of Vancouver BC, we would be honored to provide you a free consultation. Give us a call to set up an appointment at 604-375-3474 or visit our innovative showroom at 1385 West 6th Street Avenue in Vancouver. We live to automate, simplify, and secure your world!

Home Music Listening is Back…Thanks to Home Digital Music Solutions from Company's like Sonos

SONOS-System_UberDiagram
Remember the good ole’ days in which many homes were equipped with centralized music systems that pumped tunes into each room? The only problem was that such systems came with complex wiring systems and expensive built-in wall consoles, which were quite costly to maintain and nearly impossible to fix if broken.

Thanks to the digital age, technologies like Sonos have made it easy listen to music at home! Now music can be customized per room and controlled wirelessly via your MAC/PC, iPad, iPhone/iPod, or Android. Plus, your music listening options are unlimited as you can access it from Sirius, RDIO, Slacker, iTunes, Window media files, Wolfgang, and other sources.
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Working Jams: What music to listen to on the job

Listening to music while you work might be the best thing since casual Fridays. The proper tunage can help you get motivated, stay productive, and stimulate your creative juices. And it’s just what the doctor ordered when it comes to de-stressing so you can move on to the next task without blowing a gasket.

So what music should you listen to maintain your working groove? Sonos has put together some suggestions for you in the graphic below.

Sonos-WorkMusic

In order to reveal music's power in the workplace, we at Digital Smart Homes are giving away a Sonos Play:3 and installation each month through June 2012. If you are in the Vancouver and Lower Mainland, BC, we welcome you to join in the fun! Enter to Win

More Women are seeking out Home Technology solutions today than ever before

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At Digital Smart Homes, we are constantly working to better understand our client base. One of the most exciting trends that we are seeing is women increasingly seeking out digital technologies, often much more than men. There are a number of reasons as to why this is occurring.

To begin with, digital home technologies have the power to secure home and family. For instance, systems and outdoor lighting sensors can assure that lights go on at the proper time and that pathways are always lit. This not only protects homes from predators, but they greatly decrease the chance of personal injury.

Additionally, iPhone, Smartphone, and iPad apps can align with the latest technologies to indicate whether door locks are unlocked and/or the garage door is open. No matter where in the world a one is, she can close the garage door and/or lock doors. By having the power to assure the security of the home, it is possible to have peace of mind when traveling out of town or returning home.

Secondly, digital technologies can ease the frustrations of controlling numerous home media devices. There are few challenges that frustrate busy individuals more than hard to control/confusing media devices. Digital media technology offers universal remote controls that can control everything from the TV, to the wireless music system, and everything else in between. It is also possible to program a TV to turn off after a predetermined amount of time to assure kids are staying focused on their studies.

Thirdly, appliance control and monitoring makes home life much easier. In fact, kitchens will never be the same, as digital make oven monitoring possible at all times. This lessons the likelihood of the oven being left on for hours or the overcooking of a favorite dish. Also, all appliances can be constantly monitored to assure they are running efficiently and not wasting precious electricity.

Finally, home heating and air conditioning control both helps make the home more comfortable and less energy intensive. For example, the heater/furnace can be activated from the comfort of one’s bed via an iPad app and the air conditioner can be programed and coordinated with electronic blinds for effective temperature control throughout the day.

While the above technologies make a defined difference in the lives of both men and women, it appears that our female customer is increasingly becoming the key influencer. When questioned about the problems digital home technologies solve, our customers often point to security, efficiency, and simplicity.

Why do you personally seek out digital home technologies? Please share on our Facebook page!

The Smart Kitchen Revolution and How Control4 is Leading the Way

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We spend hour upon hour in our kitchens working to create masterful meals, socializing with family and friends, completing homework assignments and work projects, and even watching our favourite shows. In all reality, for many the kitchen is the second family room…or maybe even the first for some!

This is why numerous homeowners around the world are working to make their kitchens as “smart” as possible. Many turn to Control4 for their needs, as the system can do everything from set lighting and window shades to activity specific levels; play just the right music to fit the mood; monitor and program appliances; access award winning recipes from a touch screen; and even set the ice-maker to produce more ice when a party is in full swing. Plus, Control 4 offers numerous apps that can be downloaded and used to simplify the home.
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Does your office environment need an instant energy jolt and creativity boost?

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You just may be amazed at what music can do to shake things up and motivate your team members!!

In order to reveal music's power in the workplace, we at Digital Smart Homes are giving away a Sonos Play:3 and installation each month through June 2012. If you are in the Vancouver and Lower Mainland, BC, we welcome you to join in the fun!

Qualifying for the contest is easy! All you have to do is:
1. "Like" our Digital Smart Homes Facebook page and/or "Follow" us on Twitter and/or follow us onPinterest
2.
Submit a picture of your office on either Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and a brief comment on why you should win.

The more creative your entry the better, and if you submit on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest your office will be entered twice for a chance to win!

According to a recent University of Illinois research study of 256 office workers, music did wonders for frayed nerves, reduced distracting office chatter, boosted morale, and even enhanced office performance. Plus, it was revealed that employees were often more satisfied with their employers and were less likely to switch jobs.

A number of leading organizations have discovered the positive effects that music has on morale. For example, the popular online magazine Cool Hunting keeps it fresh by cranking music through their offices daily. The team keeps a hard drive filled with numerous genres of music for everyone to enjoy and gain inspiration.

And if this isn't enough maybe the goods will impress your soul! The Sonos Play: 3 is a wireless music system that emits crystal clear sound and allows for you to control it via an iPhone, iPad, Android, or Sonos controller. Additionally, the system has the ability to play music that captures a desired mood, connects wirelessly to the office router and can be tucked away in the corner of your choice.

Visit our Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest page now to enter the Digital Smart Homes Sonos Play: 3 contest. If you win, we will personally deliver and install the system for you and your co-workers to enjoy!


We will be giving away our first Play:3 in the last week of April 2012 so get your submissions in now

An Overview of My Favorite Online Music Services that Also Work with Sonos

In today’s world, there are so many options out there for online music that it can be difficult to know where to start! The great thing about homeowners that have installed the Sonos Wireless HiFi System is that now it is possible to listen to most artists, albums and/or songs in just moments. No more dusting off old vinyl records, pulling out old tapes, or trying to rub the scratches out of your favourite CDs. We hope the following online music service overview will educate you on what technologies are out there:

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Rdio
Rdio is subscription-based online music service that allows for you to pay a small fee of just $4.99 per month and you are able to listen to unlimited amounts of music from any computer. If you are familiar with Spotify, it is quite similar. Back when Spotify wasn’t available in the United States (and soon to be available in Canada), Rdio held the exclusive on such a service.

Beyond being able to call up almost any artist, album, or song in less than a second, users are able to share music from friends, get music suggestions, and even write mini-reviews. This makes the utilization of your Sonos system quite dynamic.

For those who want to listen to music on their mobile devices and computers while offline or want to listen to music on demand, much like Netflix, members pay $9.99/month and have access to more than 8.5 million songs. Getting started with Rdio is quite easy and completely free for the first week. This allows for you to give it a try before diving into the paid subscription.

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Aupeo
Aupeo is a completely free personalized online music service that you personalize by selecting the “Mood” (Happy, Energetic, Stressful, Relaxing, etc) and the “Genre” (HipHop, Country, World, Electronic, etc) .. The service is a competitor to Pandora, last.fm, and Spotify. As a user, you are allowed to stream more than 120 stations across all music genres, while provided the ability to pause or skip songs at any time. The free version has occasional commercials that play throughout your listening session and has a limit as to how many songs can be skipped at a time per station. In order to better customize music selections, you are able to designate the songs you like versus the ones you dislike.

In the case that you want to enjoy commercial free listening and have full control of how many songs are skipped, the premium service is available for €4.95 EUR/month or €49,95 EUR/ year.

slacker-radio-sonos
Slacker Personal Radio
Slacker is quite similar to Aupeo, allowing for users to listen to customized music stations. To select a genre that is most appealing at any given time, you must designate a particular artist or song as a reference point. Music then begins to stream within that given genre and allows for users to pause and skip songs.

The free version allows for only a limited number of skips and includes commercials. If you desire the ability to listen to music without commercials, there is a monthly fee of either $3.99 or $9.99. The $3.99 version also allows for mobile station caching, enables ABC News, and includes complete song lyrics. On the other hand, the $9.99 version adds the ability for you to play song and albums on demand, play single artist stations, cash albums and playlists, and create personalized playlists. This makes Slacker quite similar in functionality to Rdio.

No matter which way you stack it, you can create a music listening experience of your dreams. The secret to discovering which online music services work best for you is to give them all a try!

Cool Motion Sensor Ideas for Control4

Check out this CardAccess video for some cool motion sensor ideas to go from centralized control to true home automation.

Digital Signage for Gym, Rec Clubs and Fitness Centers

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What have your in-house big screens done for you lately?

An Arbitron study found that 70% of health club members watch nearly 40 minutes of programming per visit. With Digital Signage Systems they could be watching 40 minutes of the information YOU want to promote, in high definition!

  • Promote retail products (energy drinks, fitness wear)
  • Publicize exercise/workout classes (Pilates, Yoga, Aquatics) and schedules
  • Highlight membership specials, new services and programs
  • Display vendor ads to earn advertising subsidies

Read More...

How home audio systems are reinventing the way we design our homes in the 21st century


Large. Heavy. Overbearing. The imagery of our original CD home audio systems is not a pleasant one. During a time when aesthetics were completely void of a stereo systems’ design, figuring out where to place them in our homes was often a daunting task. However, in the 21st century, the advanced technology of our hi-fi home audio systems is not only reinventing the way we listen to music, but also the way we approach interior design in our homes. Read More...

Benefits of Using Digital Signage in Restaurants, Bars and Fast Food Locations


Digital Signage has become the most important and cost effective tool in order to address the bottom-line of any restaurant business and that is "Customer satisfaction" and "Increase in sales". Thousands of restaurants understand its importance and have deployed digital signage throughout their establishments over the last few years. They understood the importance of DOOH (Digital-Out-Of-Home) advertising and the advantages that it brings with it. Those who are left are swiftly adapting to this transition. Read More...

Lutron: Dominating Eco-Lighting Control



According to Lutron, lighting can account for up to 20 percent of a household’s yearly electricity usage, and up to 40 percent a year commercially.

Its a fact that all dimmers save energy and that’s just the beginning of “green” lighting design. Lutron has also developed an extensive collection of eco-friendly light controls, systems and window solutions for any project, big or small. We guarantee at least a 15% cost savings in the first year! Read More...

Get Your Priority Straight with Video Streaming



Video streaming allows immediate access to over 50,000 movie titles, an obvious sign of its huge popularity. It’s clear that movie distributors see a future in ‘digital distribution’ and are investing in it quickly. Home Media Magazine, for an example, reported that Walmart’s $100m acquisition of Vudu is a solid indication that ‘digital distribution’ is here and is becoming more viable option every day. Some of us may miss the higher quality picture of DVD and Blu-ray technology, but streaming has come a long way and the picture quality is already catching up. Plus, the irresistible convenience of digital streaming from the home is a phenomenal experience when set up properly.

Top 4 Streaming Essentials:
  1. Use a high quality router: A top quality router will prevent many of the hazards that cause jitter, freezing, and delay.
    2 Check your connection speed: Ensure throughput connection is at least 1.5Mbps/ stream for SD quality and 3.0Mbps/stream for HD (or 6.0Mbps for Vudu HDX) not to mention standard internet use, VOIP and audio overhead. (http:// www.speakeasy.net/ speedtest)
    3 Establish Quality of Service/Experience: Group devices with similar bandwidth needs on VLANs with designated priority to maximize experience.
    4 Use wired network: Wifi is highly subjective in certain environments, especially during high use times like after work or on the weekends. Always use wired connections to ensure reliable data streaming.
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All-weather TVs are gaining in popularity


Entertaining in the outdoors is a huge trend in the west coast. I have seen an increase year over year outdoor Audio and Video systems. Clients like the option to be able to watch movies, TV shows, sporting events and listening to their favourite music while lounging outside, barbecuing or relaxing in the hut tub. Products from Pantel and SunbriteTV can stand up to the elements of rain, bugs, humidity and temperature swings and allow for the possibilities of outdoor entertainment. Outdoor audio video systems offers homeowners one more spot to catch a hockey game or a movie. Contact us to find out more. Read More...

Social networking comes to the world of home-control systems


Home Automation companies like the one we carry, Control4, are increasingly building social-networking functions into their product lines. Control4 is developing a system that will allow users to tap into websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube right from their home-control interfaces. Read More...

The emergence of Internet-enabled devices and how it is changing the landscape of home entertainment


by Agautam

In the past few years, TVs and computers have become highly commoditized items and technology companies, retailers, and content providers are increasingly shifting to a service-oriented model to increase their revenues. Selling a portable media player with a music subscription or a DVD player with movies adds value to a purchase. Read More...

Tips for greening your home


Whether you are looking to build a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly home or to make simple adjustments to lower your utility bills, there are effective ways to go green and save money at the same time. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) presents tips that range from no-cost habits to larger, green investments and show you how to green your home and still enjoy the latest technologies and entertainment. Read More...

Surround Sound 101


Why is surround sound important in a home-theater setup?
Surround sound is one of the two crucial components of a home theater, the other being HDTV. Surround sound makes it easier to catch the dialogue in your favorite prime-time TV show and experience the action while watching a movie. Read More...

For some audiophiles, sound quality takes a back seat in an iPod era


From The New York Times
Thanks to the iPod and all of its progeny -- as well as other non-Apple mobile music players -- it's now possible to put your entire music collection in your pocket and go anywhere. But for some audiophiles, all that mobility and its attendant digital-compression technology have led to a loss in pristine sound quality. Read More: New York Times