When humans first populated the earth, the largest influence on their lives was the sun. It determined when they woke and when the slept, when they hunted and when they hid. Even after the discovery of fire, the physical toll of maintaining an open flame limited its functionality as a light source. Even tallow candles, popular in the 14th century, were so expensive that only the most affluent members of society could enjoy more than a few minutes of light per day.
Up to the 19th century it was still prohibitively expensive for the majority of people. In 1816 Baltimore became the first city in America to light its streets with gas distributed through a system of pipelines. This technology proved so beneficial that it was found in almost every city by 1850. And just like that, we owned the night.
This is part one of a three-part series covering how we can control light to improve our lives. In the first part we will cover lighting design, and how it impacts our ability to enjoy and use our space.
This shouldn’t be news to anyone, but your average home contains more “smart” devices than ever before. Nest thermostats may have brought the trend to the mainstream, but Alexa, HomeKit, Sonos, and others have taken that momentum and run with it. You might think that adding a few of these devices would take you to the pinnacle of the “Smart Home,” but is there anything that is missing from these consumer or DIY devices that is available in the professional systems like Control4, ELAN and Savant? Let’s take a look.
Who ever said bigger isn’t better has never walked the TV area at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Reporters and news programs can give a misleading view of what CES has to offer, as they tend to focus on the ‘concept cars’ rather than the ‘production cars’ of technology. Last year, the stories about LG’s rollup TV and this year’s Samsung's swing-into-portrait-mode Sero TV fell into that bucket. Yet underneath all the hype, we find some real changes coming to TVs, and many of them are available today.
I often wonder “Why do we welcome technology more in our cars than in our homes?” After all, let’s go back to the last time you approached your car: You probably pressed the button on a remote that unlocked the door and disarmed the alarm. As you pull back on the door in your car, the light conveniently comes on for you inside and the seat moves back. When you sit down, and either put your key in or press start, the seat moves forward as the steering wheel moves down and towards you. As you take a drive down the road, your favorite music is just a single button press away on the six presets. Why doesn’t your house do all this?
In our homes, thousands of products are available to give you the same experience as in your car; people just don’t know about them. For example, there are ways to install a remote on your keychain that unlocks your door and disarms the alarm. It’s also rather easy to install a simple keypad beside your entry door. These six buttons act as “presets” for you and your home. Much like the 6 buttons on your car stereo, press the #1 or “Welcome” button, and your house takes on the setting that you prefer, like having the lights illuminate the path to your bedroom closet, your thermostat change to “comfort mode,” and your favorite music to start playing throughout the house.