A Home Driven by IFTTT

October 27, 2017

IFTTT is a web service, the acronym stands for IF This Then That. Click here to check out more or keep reading.

IFTTT is a powerful service that can trigger events for any of your smart devices with triggers from a massive array of services such as Twitter, Google Calendar, Docs or Sheets, RSS feeds, GPS Location and so much more.

What Can You Do with IFTTT?

Smart homes and Automation aside, this platform is amazing for staying in the know and automating your day to day life. It can notify you when someone edits a spreadsheet in your google drive, turn on your phone’s WiFi when you get home and turn on your Bluetooth when you leave, it can automatically set ringer to silent when you arrive at work and turn it back on when you leave. It can automatically re-tweet anything from your favourite star… I have it setup to alert me when the Canadian Emergency Alerting System has a new alert. These are really just a very few of the limitless possibilities.

How Does it Work?

If you are a techie you may be familiar with the term macro. IFTTT uses something called Recipes which are equivalent to the macro. It is a series of events triggered by other events. It’s actually best explained by looking at the company’s name. If This Then That you, as the user, decide if and when action should be taken. You decide what This and That are.If “I arrive at home” then “turn on my phone’s wifi”

Now The Interesting Bit

IFTTT has the ability to communicate with your Control4 system. What does this mean? It means you can trigger events to happen to your home with any Recipe you create.

Exames of Inbound IFTTT Triggers:

  • If “I am around the corner from my house” then “turn on my driveway and porch lights”
  • If “I am 15 minutes away from home” then “turn on AC or furnace on to my comfort level”
  • If “I get a call on my Android phone” then “lower the volume (or pause) the music/TV”
  • If “someone mentions me in a tweet” then “read it over my bedroom speakers”
  • If “I get an email from work” then “flash my office lights”

Some Examples of Outbound IFTTT Triggers Include:

  • If “Control4 detects low batteries on my wireless sensors” then “add a reminder to buy batteries on my iPhone”
  • If “the home alarm system detects an alarm or fire” then “call my phone with an automated message”
  • If “my lights are on for more than 5 hours” then “send an SMS text message”
  • If “I left but forgot to set the alarm” then “notify my phone with push notifications”

These are just a fraction of the possibilities of a home integrated to your IFTTT account. Some of the functions listed here require 3rd party drivers which may include an additional cost. Speak with your control4 dealer and ask if they can do some of these things for you.

SASA loves doing anything to make the living experience in the home as comfortable as we can. So if you have any ideas on how you want to use IFTTT and want us to integrate it into your home give us a call and we will help you as best as we can. In the meantime sign up for an account and play with some of the non-Control4 Recipes.

Make the Switch… to Scenes

October 27, 2017

Scenes are the new way to think of lighting in the home. In the past your home had a few lights per room, just enough to light an area, all controlled by 1 to 3 light switches. That’s not the case in the modern home. We put in more lights per room each controlled by separate switches. It’s not uncommon nowadays to see 5, 6 or even 20 light switches in a single room. This is bulky, ugly and inconvenient to pick and choose which lights we want to turn on.

Let’s imagine your dream kitchen. I’m sure it has pendant lights over the island, pot lights around the island, a light by the stove, maybe shelf lights, a chandelier or other fixture over the table, maybe wall sconces or potlights to accent the room… You could easily put 8 loads in one room and of course you want individual control. Not to mention you’ll want some switches by the hallway entrance, some switches by the patio door, a few by the table and some by the entrance to the family room. Now you’re looking at 10-20 light switches in your kitchen.

Talk about Ugly! Not only ugly but inconvenient. If you want to turn off all the lights you may have to go to the switch by the table to turn off certain lights, the switch by the hall to turn off other lights and then you can turn off the rest on your way to the family room.

The solution as always is Automation. How does Automation help? How can we reduce clutter and still give you full control? There are a few solutions. Let’s address the problems one at a time.

What is a Scene?

A lighting scene is groups of lights turned on at once to a preset level chosen by you.

Examples of Scenes

In the kitchen we would create 6 scenes. Room On and Room Off would be 2 examples of scenes. Those are pretty self-explanatory. You could also have a Morning scene where only the ceiling lights come on at 40%. Maybe another one called Night where your pendants and chandelier at the table turn on to 20%,  for example. Or other scenes called Dayand Evening again set to turn on different groups of lights at different levels to your personal preference. Don’t like the scenes we setup for you, you can change them yourself from one of the touchscreens or tablets.

Choose to Schedule Default Scenes

You can use the Room On button but it may set brightness too high in the morning or night so we can set the Room On button to default to different scenes such as Morning, Day, Evening or Night scenes depending on time of the day, sunset or sunrise, even if its raining

Reducing Clutter on the Walls

I don’t know about you but I don’t like seeing 6 or 8 switches taking up almost 2 feet of space on the wall. I would say 1, 2 or 3 switches is the perfect amount to keep it aesthetically pleasing with full ability to control all your lights and anything else in the room. This is done with centralized lighting and I will be writing a post in the future all about centralized lighting, stay tuned.

 

No matter what your preferences I can get you the control you need with just 1 switch at each location, 2 if you want just a bit more control over the rest of your room (blinds or music for example).

 

At SASA we stay on the cutting edge of technology and home trends but also tune things to your preferences. We will make recommendations to give you the options you want so we can suit your lifestyle. Let us fill your world with light while still making it simple to understand and use.

Wire, Better to Have it and Not Need it!

October 27, 2017

When it comes to wire, don’t skimp out. If you’re building a new house don’t let wiring up your systems be an afterthought. You can never put too much wire! Preparing for the future is a must nowadays. Technology is moving faster and faster so best prepare for tomorrow today.

So how can you plan for the future of technology when we don’t know what the next big thing will be. Well we won’t be able to completely prepare, but we can do our best. We will get a sense of what you want by asking yourself a few questions:

  1. What would I install today? Putting budget aside.
  2. If you could which rooms would you make 5.1, 7.1 or 9.2 surround sound?
  3. Where would you put touchscreens? Will you eventually want an intercom system to the front door? Would you put up a gate that you want to control and intercom with also?
  4. If money wasn’t an issue, how many TVs would you put up? Where?
  5. Would you motorize all window coverings or just a few? What if you’re not sure about them but end up falling in love? Are you going to regret foregoing the wire in ALL windows?
  6. Is it important to put, for the alarm, wire every second floor windows or just main floor and basement? Flood sensors? Fire?
  7. May you ever want indoor cameras in any areas? Inside doors? Baby room for monitoring? Don’t think of it always as an indoor camera, think what else it can be down the road. Like a motion sensor, a daylight sensor, a room mic, wifi or some future tech that we can’t even imagine.

I can’t say it enough, you can never put in too much wire! You have your best chance to wire everything properly when you are building or renovating. Otherwise it may not be possible or if it is possible it will be a costly problem to solve.

Hardwired VS Wireless

At the end of the day a hardwired solution is always the best option. Down the road you may be able to get a wireless system. Quite a few systems are actually available today, with one major drawback… Batteries! That’s right, if your blinds run out of batteries and are all the way up, they’re stuck there until a service technician comes to replace them. Not all smart devices are easy to replace batteries.

There are plenty of other drawbacks to wireless systems. Wireless connectivity can drop without warning. One device can drop off wireless at a time for best case scenario. With wireless, though, there is almost definitely a single point of failure. If one specific device or controller goes down you may be unable to control all of your wireless devices. A hardwired device will rarely go down a whole system at a time, it’s almost always a single device at a time that fails. Also, the more wireless you add into a place the more interference you will cause.

Run Wire for your TVs

Even if you aren’t planning on putting a TV there today just prepare for it. TV’s usually have the most wiring to them. So even if you never use the TV location for a TV it’s nice to have a spare wire to extend and use close by for a camera, touchscreen, speakers, WiFi access point or for a DJ stand. You can pretty much re-use TV wiring for any other purposes.

Speakers Sound Like a Good Idea

You would usually put speakers where the TV’s are to hear what’s on. What is most important is to know what kind of system you want in that room. Is it going to be a set of stereo speakers?  Or maybe a full theatre system with 5-9 or more speakers and a subwoofer or 2 (5.1, 7.1 or 9.2). Decide now because remember you don’t have to use it if you have it, but if you want more later it may be more of a hassle than it’s worth.

Create a Strong Network

Most devices are coming out with option to connect with wired network or wireless. Make sure the network options you choose are enough to get you good wired and wireless connectivity. Put cables in places that give you options even if you aren’t sure what you are going to install. For example we can put a wire in the ceiling somewhere for a wifi access point, camera or somewhere with a good location for a room microphone. Who knows, maybe the house of tomorrow uses voice control and gestures with facial recognition to load a users preferences. So put wire in the ceiling and hope we can keep your house relatively smart for as long as possible. Hardwire is always best.

 

Hire experienced experts because they know the ins and outs of running wires. There are certain unspoken methods for running wires that your average general contractor or electrician may not know.  Such as, when to use cat5 VS cat6, which way to run it to reduce interference and even how hard to pull on it to avoid damage. All these things should be known by your low voltage contractor but may not be common knowledge to everyone who runs cabling.

The guys at SASA know the best way to get it done so even if you don’t plan on installing anything today give them a call, because you need a solid foundation to build a solid home.

What IS Home Automation

October 27, 2017

Usually when I tell people what I do, I get the smile and nod or I get asked “what is home automation?” and “what makes a smart home so smart?” The answer is never simple. So I figured for my first post I would start from the beginning and answer these questions for you.

Where to begin? Well imagine you can control your lights, blinds, security system, cameras, thermostat, garage door, TV’s, speakers and so much more all from your phone… From a beach in Cuba. Well that’s not new, all those things have been around for sometime now. What makes an automation system unique is that you have control over these things in a single app, controlled by a single device. What does that matter for you, a consumer who doesn’t mind opening up a hundred different apps to control a hundred different devices? Well, my friend, there are many benefits to this system. Let’s go through some of them.

 

Creating Scenes:

Creating scenes is just one of the many benefits of a centrally automated system. For example you could do something simple like make your lightswitch turn all the lights in the bedroom on. Maybe all the lights and the music. You could do more complex things like maybe music and your television, putting the blinds down and dimming the lights to optimal TV viewing levels.

Check back on Thursday for an article all about lighting scenes.

Event triggers:

The systems within your home will communicate with each other so this means one system such as a security system can trigger certain actions. Such as when the alarm system is disarmed the lights come on, or when it goes into alarm you get a notification on your phone and all lights come on with all speakers at full blast. You can schedule things based on time of the day, sunset/sunrise, if it’s raining or even when you arrive at home.

Simple user interface:

I would say user interface is the most important thing to make an automation system easy to use for everyone. It is the way you interact with your home whichever way you prefer.

When you have everything controlled with different apps, remotes or switches it can get confusing when you’re trying to do even the simplest of things.

Why not control everything throughout your house on a single,  extremely simple to use, touchscreen, remote control or with your voice through your phone. You can control everything in an easy to understand menu which, when programmed correctly, feels very natural and familiar.

Just click a single button to watch TV. No more switching inputs or adjusting the volume on the wrong remote again. Trigger the blinds to close when watching or dim the lights for the movie all from your TV remote. If you want you can have all that happen automatically, dim lights and close blinds when you turn on the TV. That is the difference between control and Automation. Whether you want things to happen because you ask it to or because it should.

You can even control things with your voice through new products like the Amazon Alexa, Google home or Siri on your Apple products.

Energy Savings:

If you had motion detectors throughout the house lights would turn off behind you and turn on in front of you, saving energy and our planet. Another way to save is by turning off the furnace or AC while no one is home it would kick on 10-20 minutes before you arrive at home to keep you comfortable when you walk in the door. Your driveway lights can turn on to greet you and turn off once your inside.

Stay informed:

You can view and log all the data about your home. Keep track of what’s happening, what you want to know, what’s important for YOU! Get notified instantly on your smartphone or by email. See when your alarm system goes into alarm sometimes even moments before the monitoring station alerts you. Get notified when the door is opened or see how long your lights stay on throughout the day. You can even get notifications when your cars leave the property. Anyway you want to be notified we can set it up.

All these pieces put together just add up to one thing. A high-tech lifestyle that is unique to your needs, your preferences to keep you safe and sound, all year round.

The guys at SASA know what they’re talking about. Everyone here, myself included, is passionate about technology and will be able to explain it and offer a custom solution for you.

Full automation planning by SASA

October 27, 2017

Planning is crucial to creating the best possible customer experience within a project budget.
The SASA team is brain storming a full automation solution for one our next 20,000 sq/ft projects!
Wow!!
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Wireless alarm system monitoring – DSC Alexor

October 27, 2017

Are you looking for wireless alarm system monitoring? No access in your home or office for a wired alarm system? There are great wireless alarm systems like the DSC Alexor that can give you full featured easy to install security system. Don’t let go of your peace of mind because you can’t install a traditional wired alarm system. www.safeandsecurealarms.ca can install and monitor your alarm system in your home or office for as low as $9.99/month in Toronto, Brampton, Woodbridge, Kleinburg, Richmond hill.

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