Now to be clear, we’re talking about All The Tech in the home: Media Room; Lighting; Shades; Network; Security; Audio; Tvs; and more.
How your Smart Home is designed, the method used, will play the biggest role in determining if you’re happy with your investment.
Three Criteria for a successful Smart Home
There are three reasons you’ll love (or not love) your Smart Home. We call these The Big 3.
- Performance – The system needs to do 3 things for you to actually use it: Work Like You Expected; Be Easy To Use; and Work Reliably.
- Useful – You want or need the tech, even after you’ve moved into your home and better understand how it works.
- A Good Investment – You feel good about the investment, the tech ehances your life, and you use it.
I’ve written about this elsewhere, and you can get a copy of our Free Guide on Designing A Smart Home, where I discuss it in more detail.
‘System Focused’ vs ‘User Focused’ Design
Broadly speaking there are two ways you can design a system:
- System Focused Design – We choose a ‘System’ or platform like Control4, and we design everything around that system.
- User Focused Design – We look at how you will use the tech in your home, and design around your specific use cases.
Now this may seem obvious, but it makes or breaks the tech in your home. Here’s a simple example…
Let’s design the tech in your Kitchen
Say you wanted a Control4 system, we asked what tech you wanted in the Kitchen, and you said something like,
‘Speakers, shades, and lighting control.’
Awesome! So based on that information we spec out the following:
- A Control4 Music Server
- A Control4 Compatible Shade Solution
- And Control4 Light Switches
Looks great, and the system should work just fine.
Fast forward a few months, and it’s your first day in the home. You’re excited to use your system, and you think to yourself:
- I’m going to listen to Audible and finish that book
- I want to see the kids out back, but I’m going to close the shades 25% to block out some of the sunlight, and
- I’m going to change the temperature of the light to help my mind relax.
So here’s the problem, your system as designed, can’t do any of this.
- You can listen to music from sources like Spotify, but Audible isn’t natively supported.
- You can open or close the shades 100%, but presets aren’t supported.
- You can dim your lights, but you don’t have tunable light.
A User Focused Design Approach
With a user focused design approach, we’d ask specifically how you want to use the Speakers, Shades, and Lighting.
Your answers on how you plan to use the tech would drive the design, and the products selected.
- Apple Music and Audible – instead of using Control4’s built in music server, we’d plan on using a Sonos Port.
- Shade Presets – knowing you want the ability to partially close or open shades, we’d use a solution like Lutron that supports control of presets.
- Tuneable Light – We’d look at solutions like Philips Hue, or Ketra Lamps, and use different lighting control on the walls.
Remember, performance is the first of The Big 3 reasons you’ll love or hate your system.
‘Your Smart Home needs to perform the way you imagined.’
And the primary cause of poor performance is a System Focused Design.
We have to understand specifically how you plan to use the tech in each room of your home. Then we can match the right equipment to you.
Designing Your System
You may be thinking, if User Focused Design is such a no brainer, why aren’t all systems designed this way?
I cover this in more detail in The Smart Home Guide, but the short story is the industry discourages it.
If you’re wondering how best to design your system, we can help. We launched our Design Service to help you discover how you’ll use your own Smart Home, and match that to the best possible tech for you.
Today our full time work is consulting and designing systems. We’refree from industry pressure to sell you specific lines.
So if you need Apple Home Kit paired with Philips Hue and Sonos, or Control4 paired with Josh.ai and Ketra, we have the freedom to help you find what’s best for you.
Be sure to check out our Design Service before you leave!
Named one of Technology Integrator’s Top Talent Under 40, Matt has designed systems for 20 national award-winning projects, including "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year" from CTA™ (Consumer Technology Association). His ebook “How To Wire Your Smart Home” is a best seller among professionals and DIY-ers alike. He has taken classes with Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). You can watch Matt share the secrets of his craft on YouTube!
Matt is a Golden State fan.