How to get the best tech into the most important rooms of your home

How to get the best tech into the most important rooms of your home

Installing smart technologies into key rooms enhances comfort and style in any home.

Comfort and personal style are key to designing any home; and implementing smart technology into your design can provide a seamless, custom solution to give you full control of your favorite space. Equipping key rooms in your home with technology can provide the ultimate in accessibility, while still complementing your individual style.

As with any design, aesthetics are key. Seamless built-in panels, hidden television units and in-ceiling speakers are just a few ways you can customize your audio, video and lighting, without compromising the appearance of the room.

As selfbuilder & homemaker says, with the proper technology in your design plan, “you can have full control of the technology in your room, and around your house for that matter, from the convenience of your bed.” Discreetly enclosing television in a beautiful cabinet that matches your décor, for example, is an excellent was to hide bulky and aesthetically displeasing equipment. You can even hide in-wall speakers with wallpaper.

But the trend expands beyond just the bedroom. More and more, homeowners are deciding to add technology in their bathrooms and kitchens – ensuring that you never miss your favorite show. While having your favorite playlist and even your home’s surveillance at an arm’s length.

And while integrated lighting, video and audio technology are important in your indoor living spaces, it’s easy to do the same outside. Mood-lighting and discreet surround sound speakers can provide the same level of comfort and style outside as they do inside.

How to Play Music Outside

How to Play Music Outside

Your patio is an extension of your home’s living space.  It can also be a valuable addition to your seaside restaurant’s seating area.   Taking in all the South Florida lifestyle has to offer, we flock to the outdoors, gathering around the grill, relaxing poolside or enjoying an intimate dinner at an outdoor bistro.  Whether you’re engaged in an intense Bean Bag Toss Tournament, puttering in your garden, or sipping cocktails under your tiki, there’s one thing that could really add to your enjoyment: music. 

Choices in Outdoor Speakers

Outdoor audio comes in all shapes and sizes!  So, where do you start?  Here are some things to consider:

·       How would you like to use the system?  If you have an automated home control system, such as Control4, your outdoor entertaining space can be added as an audio zone, allowing you to select any of the available sources (streaming subscriptions, AV receiver, audio library or CD Player).  This integration also allows for signal interruption when the phone or doorbell rings – handy when throwing a party!

·       Where would you like to have the music play?  Your outdoor area may consist of one or multiple zones.  You may find that you enjoy the ability to play music in some areas and broadcast the big game in others.  You may also enjoy having separate volume controls in each area. Even if you elect not to do so now, it is easier and more cost-effective to wire for these future upgrades at the project’s inception.

·       Do you want to play the TV’s audio through the outdoor speakers?  The system can be set up so that you may select either a music source or audio from your outdoor LCD.

·       How do you want to control it?  You can choose from simple remotes or waterproof styles, either independent to the system or integrated onto a whole house remote.  And, of course, your smart phone makes a reliable, familiar control device too!

What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor speakers?

Outdoor speakers are designed to endure the elements and to complement their environment.  They are durable, featuring specialized finishes and enclosures.  Speakers intended for interiors can’t brave the brutal, tropical conditions of sun, sand, sea, rain or even wind.  All-weather speakers also offer various installation locations. Speakers can be mounted under the eave or up in a tree, placed as an elegant patio planter, installed in your landscaping resembling a spotlight or rock (yes, they look real now! Check out the variety from Episode), or even buried underground as a subterranean subwoofer.

System Design meets “Interior” Design

Outdoor speakers are sleek and aesthetically designed, but the most important part of designing an outdoor audio system is proper speaker placement.  Sound travels from yard to yard if no walls are there to obstruct it.  In fact, pools and waterways can actually help to amplify it. Speakers offer varying dispersion patterns that can be aimed and controlled within a specified area for smooth, consistent volume.  Here’s a great example from Martin Logan, Plan a Scalable System.  If you rely on having a pair mounted under the eave to cover a large area, the volume close to the source may be uncomfortable, while those at the edge of the patio can barely hear it.  Or, while you may be listening at a comfortable level at your lanai, your neighbors may be subject to a rock concert!  This is where a few well-placed landscape speakers would serve well, allowing for background level audio to play evenly throughout. 

At the core

Control of the system requires connectivity.  You’ll want to make sure your Wi-Fi is accessible. This may mean setting up a separate network (think about the conveniences of a guest network) or at least ensuring adequate antenna coverage for a reliable signal from every corner of the space.

Years of enjoyment

Your outdoor audio system will provide years of entertainment and enjoyment.  While it will endure everything Mother Nature (and Florida!) has to throw at it, you can rest assured knowing that your high quality, professionally installed system will be supported by the manufacturer warranty and your integration specialist.

Outdoor Music

Outsmarting Cyber Crimes Against Smart Technologies

Info Security for smart home

Adoption of new technologies is on the rise, and so are cybersecurity threats. Gartner reports that in five years our typical households could contain several hundred smart devices. While it’s important to be cognizant of cybersecurity issues, rest assured that All Digital is staying ahead of the cyber criminals to keep you and your family safe. Let’s explore the potential vulnerabilities of smart devices and measures taken to make them secure.

We’ve all heard about baby monitors being hacked, but according to Fox News contributor and CyberGuy Kurt Knutsson, the leading causes for the hacks might surprise you. The simple, avoidable reasons include: parents simply not changing the default password, the home Wi-Fi network password being easily-guessed and security flaws with the monitoring device itself. Knutsson’s article goes on to share steps that parents can take to deter hackers, but there are dozens of other smart devices and appliances that may not immediately come to mind and are beyond the abilities of the average do-it-yourself homeowner to secure—such as cable boxes, video game consoles and even HVAC systems. Professional-level security measures should be taken to ensure that your network is secure and that the equipment is safe and up to standards.

At All Digital, our clients’ security is critical. In addition to working in partnership with our manufacturers, we collaborate with fellow members across the country as a CEDIA (Consumer Electronics Design & Installation Association) Electronics Systems Contractor to ensure we stay current on threats, as well as trends, in technology. To keep your systems secure from hackers, here are some precautions we recommend.

Networks:

●      Have a certified automation/security pro set-up an encrypted network. Always change the SSID (network name) and use the most up-to-date encryption (WPA2 currently) with a custom, strong password.

●      Safeguard your guest network. Establish parameters such as controlling time-of-day access, MAC (Media Access Control) addresses of specific devices and restricting the number of devices allowed.

●      Regardless of protocol, use only certified equipment.

●      Change all factory-set passwords.

●      While we do not recommend that you share passwords, we do suggest you record them in a secure place. We create a passcode document for our clients, should they forget or lose them.

●      Use temporary passwords for occasional use access by housekeepers, etc.

●      Set up a separate network for your automation system.

●      If you need to allow access to various devices from outside (typically called port forwarding) such as being able to control your security or automation system via an app, never use the same inbound and outbound port.

●      Set up “parent/child” relationships, allowing you to share a specific username and password with access to designated devices (like the music server so your friend can stream on your system) and at the times you specify to prevent people from having access to your system without your knowledge.

●      A VPN (Virtual Private Network), such as Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection, is another solution. This is a “private tunnel” to give you, or anyone you deem, access to your network from anywhere in the world.  

Equipment:

●      Never leave the generic username and password on any network device. Devices include routers and access points, as well as camera DVRs (digital video recorders), NAS (network access server) drives and any other piece of gear that resides on the network.

●      Replace any outdated or incompatible components.

●      Buy only reputable brands, which are more likely to have a high level of security and regular updates. The National Security Alliance advises “Do your research: read reviews and learn about consumers’ experiences with the products from a security and privacy perspective.”

●      Keep all devices updated with the most current software, and download any patches to mitigate risk.

●      Turn off listening devices when not in use.

Mobile:

●      Install security software on mobile phones and tablets used to control IoT devices.

●      Restrict application access on your phone. Be aware of privacy settings and sharing capabilities on apps, such as calendars, email, location and photos.

●      We recommend passcode apps to keep passwords secure.

First and foremost, work with a known, trusted networked home/security provider. As a CEDIA Electronics Systems Contractor, All Digital has access to up-to-the-minute industry news and solutions. CEDIA leverages the expertise of global technology leaders and manufacturers to educate its membership on key topics such as cybersecurity and the connected home and have recently worked in collaboration with InfoComm International to present at ISE (Integrated Systems Europe) on the subject. 

Be aware, be smart and count on trusted professionals when needed.

Seek Professional Help!  From a Certified Motorized Shade +/or Lighting Specialist, that is!

Seek Professional Help!  From a Certified Motorized Shade +/or Lighting Specialist, that is!

Resist!  It’s a beautiful South Florida afternoon and you find yourself in your favorite home improvement store.  You stroll down the electrical aisle in search of a replacement wall plate and, BAM, there it is, DIY lighting control.  Dimmers, outdoor lighting…Oh, just imagine…”Honey, did you turn off the patio lights? No? Ok [picks up remote], I got it.”  Bliss. Sigh. You round the corner and on the end-cap display, spotlighted as if the clouds have parted and sopranos are welcoming a new dawn….motorized window shades!  With a remote! Simple, elegant…You’ve been dreaming about blackouts for the Master Bedroom and Home Theater…maybe a lighter weave for the family room to protect the furniture, ease glare on the TV and block the heat…sounds perfect but….not so fast!

While DIY has its place, we caution you when it comes to automated lighting control and window shades.  We’ve recently experienced many homeowners calling to ask us to re-program their lighting and window treatments, integrating their weekend project into their system, only to find out that what they’ve installed is a single-room solution.  For us, the beauty of whole-home lighting and shade is just that – a whole-house integrated system.  Pre-set configurations; all-on/all-off, entertain, away, Good Morning!, Goodnight! modes– Portrait lights on with shades down, can lights on with shades at 50%....elegance, control and plenty of options! 

So, be tempted by that jaw-dropping display…be inspired…but before placing anything in your cart, please check with us to learn your options.  We want to be sure you’re happy with your investment.

Transforming an Integrated System into Your Integrated Lifestyle

Integrated Lifestyle Mom.jpg

Transforming an Integrated System into Your Integrated Lifestyle

More than incorporating various electronic components, an electronics systems contractor integrates your lifestyle – in your home, in your office, at the gym, while you’re away.  In today’s digital world, it’s what we’ve come to expect.  Don’t let those expectations fall short.

Proven methods ensure positive outcomes

A true differentiator in the digital environment, as a CEDIA Designer we subscribe to a proven design-build process: Discovery, Systems Design, Engineering, Implementation, Service & Support.  This process begins with a thorough “discovery”, a conversation about your current and future needs and wants, along with your budget and anticipated timeline.  This is a critical step that develops your system design.  Equally as important however, is the documentation that communicates that design. 

More than a list of “gear”

When presented with a design, it is critical that you understand how the system will perform, not simply what products are included.  Too often a business or homeowner is presented with a list of components that adds up to the bottom line, but fails to describe what the system will do.  How will it function in each space and how can you trust it will perform as specified?  Along with expert system design and engineering, you should be presented with a comprehensive document package that demonstrates proven design; project drawings, schematics, easy-to-understand scope-of-work, hardware and labor requirements.  Once we get your approval, this package then communicates the design to the installation team, programmer, architect, interior designer, plumber, electrician, millwork carpenter, etc.

Lifecycle to Lifestyle

Once engaged, the scheduling and installation process begins.  We manage the project throughout its lifecycle, communicating during each phase to keep you informed and in charge! Designing your integrated lifestyle is more than a list of stuff.  Let us show you.  We want you to know what to expect. Expect to be blown away!

OLED is Flexing its Muscles, and its Design Capabilities

OLED is Flexing its Muscles, and its Design Capabilities

On-Wall television, once avoided by the Interior Design Professional, has thrust itself into the realm of stunning artwork, worthy of being featured, not hidden.  OLEDs of 2017, consuming less power than LED TVs, offer brilliant whites and striking blacks from surfaces that are no thicker than a credit card!  

While the video technology’s curved, flat or even “wallpaper” configurations allow for incredible flexibility in design options, audio solutions have become equally as creative.  LG’s newest OLED Wall-Paper, introduced at CES earlier this year, is so thin and light, it actually mounts to the wall with magnets, leaving no room within the display for AV control, connection ports or audio.  Their solution is an external sound bar, resembling a shelf, mounted just below the video display which houses Active HDR with Dolby Vision as well as spectacular Dolby Atmos for sound.  You can assume that that professional installation is required.  While some embrace the sleek design, others would prefer a less conspicuous solution, and perhaps that’s in the works.

Sony jumped back into the OLED arena, introducing the Bravia A1 OLED TV, which turns the glass-front into a speaker. The “Acoustic Surface” vibrates to create audio! The super-thin design also means that there is no need for a traditional stand. Instead, it features a pop-out lean-stand similar to that of a tablet.

Samsung deviated from OLED by developing QLED which features a “reinvented Quantum Dot technology.”  Truly designer-friendly, it comes with “invisible connection” for nearly undetectable cabling. For audio they’ve developed the Sound+ soundbar with subwoofer, complementing their line of flat and curved units both aesthetically and acoustically.

Interior Designers can now embrace technology in design with OLED TVs that are beautiful whether on or off.  So, which is right for you?  Give us a call – we’ll help you navigate OLED!

 

Tags: minimalism, Dolby Atmos, Active HDR, Dolby Vision, OLED, QLED

Building a New Home?

Building a New Home?

Make it the Smartest House On The Block

Building a new home? Why not make it a smart home? Control4 smart home solutions will make your new home both beautiful and brilliant. With Control4, you can coordinate virtually all the connected devices in your house to create a personalized experience with solutions that maximize your comfort, convenience, entertainment and peace of mind. Do something special for your new home and give it the smart it deserves!


WHAT WE DO

ALL DIGITAL is a full service custom integration company. We specialize in designing and installing a full range of electronic systems including automation and control, home cinemas, lighting controls, multi-room audio and video, networking, smart racks, media rooms, and integration for your home or business.