Healthier Home with our Gadget of the Week 16/02

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Healthier Home with our Gadget of the Week 16/02

Netatmo Healthy Home Coach

Monitor the air quality in your home with the Netatmo Healthy Home Coach.  This smart assistant monitors humidity, air quality, temperature and noise, alerts you to potential problems and tells you how to fix them.  Glance at your smartphone to check if your home is healthy.  Works with HomeKit.

Available from www.netatmo.com, £89.99

Customised are your Norfolk based CEDIA Smart Home experts.
 

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Interview With A Homeowner - Part 1 - #RealWorld

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Interview With A Homeowner - Part 1 - #RealWorld

Real World Problems

What’s the state of technology in UK homes? It’s a question we regularly ask ourselves at Customised HQ. We come up with many answers and devise solutions to help our clients have a good experience with home technology.

To further our improvement of the services we provide we sought out a member of the public to ask about their views on the state of technology in their home. For some background, our interviewee is not a customer of Customised, she is a homeowner with 3 children and her and her partner both work full-time. They live in a small Norfolk village, fifteen miles south of Norwich.

We started by asking her what the demand was like for technology in their home.

“With three children aged between seven and sixteen, we have several smartphones, tablets and computers between us. Two of our kids enjoy gaming on Xbox and Playstation and our TV viewing habits are increasingly weighted towards streamed, on-demand content. We also have a wireless music system and voice assistant which we use daily.”

This amount of technology is fairly typical for a family of five. I asked her what were the common technology frustrations in the home.

“Our internet connection is not able to handle the demands, we have to always be mindful of who’s online and what we want to do. When one of our boys is gaming online we have to accept that no one else can stream TV, on occasions it becomes very slow to use social media or browse the internet.”


There are two factors which can be the cause here, broadband speed and wi-fi coverage. I asked if she knew her broadband speed and what handles the wi-fi coverage in their home.

“When we first moved in to this house our speeds were very low, around 2Mbps. At this time we really struggled with any online activities. However recently we have had an increase in speed to around 12 or 13 Mbps. We do find this fluctuates a lot during the course of the day. Our wi-fi signal comes from our BT Hub but it couldn’t service the whole home so we added a range extender. This is a frustrating piece of tech. We constantly have to reconnect to it and the speeds are definitely slower when you are connected to this.”


The download speeds that she mentioned are capable of handling the demand, but only just. The wi-fi coverage could be a major culprit. The range extender should be investigated, is it in the right place, is it the right product?

Cheap alternative upgrades could be a set of HomePlugs, providing internet over mains power cabling in the home, budget around £120 for this. Another would be to run inexpensive Cat5e or Cat6 ethernet cables to areas of the home and install wireless access points, the cost of this is higher due to the labour for installing cables but budget around £300 for a single access point install. Our final option to improve the wi-fi coverage would be the installation and set up of a MESH wi-fi system. A MESH kit from Amplifi costs from around £400 with the set up, a more expensive option, but the coverage this will give and provide a single wi-fi network for the home gives a great wi-fi experience. The Amplifi solution will also provide features like a Guest Wi-Fi Network for visitors to your home and offer easy to use parental controls for limiting internet time for specific devices or users.

We will follow up this blog with some of the insights we gathered from this homeowner on topics such as self installed technology and where to find a professional installer of tech.

Customised are experts at improving both the broadband speeds coming into your home and increasing the wireless coverage quality throughout your home.

Contact us to arrange a free consultation.

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How can Home Technology benefit your home?

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How can Home Technology benefit your home?

You've read about Home Tech or Smart Home Tech, you may even have a few home tech gadgets at home, but what is it like to live in a smart home?  What benefits can home tech bring to your home?

Our Home Tech Experience Centre, which opened last month, answers these questions.  Instead of reading about the benefits on a website or on the back of the box the home tech gadget comes in, you can get hands on in our Experience Centre.  

Open Monday to Saturday, you will be given a short demo of the tech we have featured, then we will hand over the controls!  Find out for yourself how easy professionally installed home tech is to use and how it can make your home more convenient, more controllable, more entertaining and save energy.

Here's a preview of the tech we have featured in our Home tech Experience Centre.

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Smart Home on the High Street - #HomeTech #Blog

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Smart Home on the High Street - #HomeTech #Blog

As a keen observer of where home technology products are being presented to homeowners, I notice advertising and sales of Smart Home tech all across social media, billboards, website ads and on the High Street. Major retail outlets are now allocating valuable store real estate to technology devices for the home. It’s so simple now to pick up a smart product whilst also buying your weekly groceries or a new outfit. I had to chuckle recently when I saw a vending machine for consumer electronics and it included an Amazon Echo Dot and Philips Hue Lightbulb as selection choices. It’s never been easier to bring tech home.

 

I need to stop doing it but I can’t help pretending to be a prospective buyer of Smart Home devices when I’m in the department store or shop. I don’t need the item but I’m intrigued by how a store assistant is selling the Home Tech Experience. So the tale normally goes that I’m looking for some new bulbs or I’m needing some security cameras that I can view on my phone.

 

Recently I visited a high end Hi-Fi and TV store who had Smart Home printed on their High Street facing windows and pavement placed sandwich board. I had ten minutes to kill before a dental appointment for a browse. I explained to the assistant that I wanted some voice control of lights, link up between my music/TV, lights, heating and motorised blinds. I took into account that this was a single brand selling store but the Smart Home graphics window indicated they would be able to help me with my enquiry.

 

The first response I got was that their products work with “Smart Home stuff”, then I was shown a voice controlled demonstration of music being streamed through speakers via a Google Home command. It failed to work after 3 attempts and their attention turned to the televisions in the store. I questioned the voice control issue and was told “It sometimes doesn’t work.”. The television display consisted of a playback of a corporate video showing a ultra-luxurious home with an awesome interior. The homeowner in the video pressed a button on a remote control and the blinds lowered. “This is what I want” I said, “which products are used for that?”

 

The video ended and I said this is what I was thinking about having. The assistant couldn’t tell me the brands used, how it works and how I could get more info. I asked if my electrician could come in and enquire about the wiring needed for the setup I described. This prompted a request for email details. I left my enquiry and closed the chat with his recommendation for a local installer of Smart Home systems.......he didn’t know anyone.

 

I left the shop with two opposing conclusions.

 

  • We are streets ahead at Customised when it comes to providing relevant and valued Home Technology advice when homeowners visit our offices or when we visit their homes for free surveys and consultations. We need to keep it that way by continuing to listen to homeowners and develop staff knowledge and experience.

 

  • Many homeowners are being put off Smart Home by bad initial encounters with people selling Smart Home services and products. I worry that adoption rates are reduced because of poor sales experiences, wrong products specified and sold, misunderstanding about living in a Smart Home and lack of installation support by the seller of the product.

 

I’m prepared to accept my experience in this store might be an isolated case, so I invite any retailers reading this to kick my ass in the comments below and to start a debate on the support for the buyers of home technology.

 

Like, share, tweet and favourite.

 

 

Kris

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Gadget of the Week - Banish the Winter Blues

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Gadget of the Week - Banish the Winter Blues

Our Gadget of the Week in the Eastern Daily Press Homes Guide today, 12th January, is the Lumie Vitamin L.

Boost your mood and energy with the Lumie 10,000 lux SAD lamp. Sunshine has a transformative effect on alertness, mood and productivity. 30-60 minutes in front of the lamp, at eye level, each morning will help beat the winter blues.

Available from lumie.com, £75

Customised are your Norfolk based CEDIA Smart Home experts.

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Home Tech Experience Centre opens & Happy Christmas!

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Home Tech Experience Centre opens & Happy Christmas!

Our new Home Tech Experience Centre is now open at 2a High Street, Loddon.  Visit us to experience a fully voice controlled living space.  Open 9am-4pm Monday - Friday and 10-4pm Saturday.  Call us on 01508 528964 to book a demonstration.

Customised will be closed for the Christmas period from Friday 22nd December, re-opening on Wednesday 3rd January 2018!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and happy New Year!

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Customised Open Their Home Technology Experience Centre

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Customised Open Their Home Technology Experience Centre

And Expands Installation Services in Norfolk and Suffolk

Customised opens the doors to their new Home Technology Experience Centre at 2a High Street, Loddon on Friday 8th December 2017. Visitors to the Experience Centre will have the opportunity to use the latest in Smart Home technology. Customised have created a fully voice controllable living space to highlight the benefits of a Smart Home.

Anna Gamble, Managing Director and co-owner of Customised explained, “We are excited to provide a space for our customers to experience the latest in home technology. Our homes are filling up with Smart Home technology and we want our customers to understand better the lifestyle benefits and enhancements.”

The current Customised administration and sales staff are moving to the new facility in Loddon and two new trainee staff are joining the company in 2018 to support the demand for home technology installation in the East of England.

Kris Gamble, Technical Director, said, “Customised have launched a range of preset packages which cure the main tech pain points of homeowners. Superfast internet connections, whole home wi-fi kits and easy to use security systems are proving very popular and the additional technical staff will help us to deliver home technology upgrades to even more homes.”

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Home Technology Professional

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Home Technology Professional

New builds, renovations and home improvements have involved the same group of tradespeople for decades. Builders, roofers, plumbers, electricians and decorators are just a few of the usual suspects but how many projects use the services of a Home Technology Professional? What is a Home Technology Professional (HTP or Home Tech Pro)?

It’s probably easier for me to describe the kind of services a HTP can provide using scenarios our customers tell of everyday.

TV

“I need my new super-slim TV mounted on the wall, I want all the wires hidden and one remote control to control everything.” Contact a Home Tech Pro, they’ll advise on screen height, type of bracket and set up remote and app control of your entertainment devices.

Music

“I have all my music stored on my PC, I stream music from Spotify and Apple Music. How do I unleash this music to every room in the house and have control of the track and volume using my smartphone?” Bread and butter task for a Home Tech Pro which normally involves no wires.

Wi-Fi

“I have decent broadband speeds but the signal is not reaching everywhere in the house. I’ve tried those plug in extenders but the internet is slower now.” Time for a HTP. They’ll provide secure, far reaching wireless access points to create one big wireless cloud in your home.

Security

“I’ve got an alarm system but I would have no idea if it’s going off when I’m at work, I’d also like to see what’s happening at home via a camera I can view on my tablet.” Your Home Tech Pro will setup notifications from your alarm system and install and setup cameras around your property, viewable from anywhere in the world.

Mood Lighting

“I’d like something different from the boring downlights and pendant fittings. I want colour changing LED lighting with control using my smartphone.” Home technology professionals can install and setup mood lighting in one room or your whole home. It can even be combined with your music and TV setup for different room scenes.

Motorised Curtains and Blinds

“I’m fed up with tangled cords and also want the blinds and curtains to close at the same time in the evenings for privacy and security.” Your HTP will measure, provide fabric samples and install your automated window treatments.

Future Ready Home

“I’m building my new home for today and for the future. How can I ensure I’m putting in the right cabling, in all the right places?” A Home Technology Professional must be involved at the early stages of your project. They can work with your architect, lighting and interior designers to ensure that your Grand Design is built to last.

Keep in touch with Customised to get the latest home technology news and trends. 

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10 Common New Build Home Mistakes

1. Not providing enough power sockets in the Kitchen.

2. Using a single thermostat to control the temperature for the whole home. 

3. No pre-wiring to a satellite dish location for Sky TV.

4. No ethernet wiring at TV locations for Smart TV.

5. Positioning power and TV cabling at low level where a wall mounted TV is more common. 

6. Radiators in the wrong locations, making furniture positions difficult.

7. Not providing any outside power socket. 

8. No centralisation of wiring relating to TV, internet, telephone and security.

9. Lack of motion sensors to turn lighting on/off to save energy.

10. No sensors installed to detect water leaks.

Share with us any new home mistakes you’ve encountered.

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Build For The Year We’re In

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Build For The Year We’re In

Build Smart

For close to a decade now we've been using Smartphones; dozens of electronic devices all bundled into one convenient pocket sized gadget. Every year your mobile phone evolves to offer better graphics, increased camera resolution, faster processor speeds and greater storage. Apps connect us with all our favourite social, on demand and messaging platforms. Do you remember your first experiences with a smartphone? You very quickly forgot your old device that offered only a fraction of the conveniences your new phone brought.

Do you remember using a choke or manually winding your windows up or down in a car? These are now things of the past. Car technology evolved, nowadays they're stacked with features for improving efficiency, comfort, safety and entertainment. Played a cassette in your car recently? Manufacturers of cars bring out new features at the same rate smartphone companies bring out software updates. We're well used to the speed of tech evolution.

Let's turn our attention to UK homes. New homes built in the UK have experienced major changes over the past decade. Better insulation, improved air-tightness, zonal heating and, love it or hate it, a massive increase in value.

One part of the home that has not evolved to meet new, modern living standards is your household wiring. It's no exaggeration to say that the majority of new homes are wired no differently than they were back in 1997. Twenty years of unused telephone sockets, two decades of television points being stuck in the corner of the room, twenty years of aerial splitters lurking up in the loft and two decades of service providers like BT or Sky installing ugly cabling on the outside of your house. All because no one had the foresight to consider where set top boxes or routers will go.

Over the next five years you are going to spend a lot of your household income on technology products and services. Most of this technology will be used in your home. So how ready is your home for UltraHD media streaming, internet connected kitchen appliances, virtual reality entertainment and voice controlled home assistants? If you think you won't have these things in your home you're sadly mistaken. Apple, Google, BT and Netflix, to name a few, will push a connected lifestyle upon you. Some of you may have thought you'd have no use for a smartphone ten years ago. How’d that turn out?

The changes house builders need to make to stop producing dumb homes are not as drastic as you may think. Our four tips for designers and builders of new homes are easy to implement.

1. Start considering the amount of technology your buyers will bring with them when they move into a new house. We regularly analyse household Wi-fi networks and often count over twenty- five internet connected devices.

2. Seek out training courses or CPD presentations that provide easy to access content on smarter, connected living. RIBA and NHBC have both recently published articles and accredited courses related to Smart Homes.

3. Speak to the existing tradespeople involved on your projects and listen to their views on how to make your homes smarter. They may already be involved in creating Smart Homes in the luxury or custom build market.

4. Make the change to build Smart today. Stop the construction of dumb homes for your customers. You've introduced renewables, energy efficiency and innovative heating methods to your schemes over the years, it’s now time to introduce Smart Home.

Customised are Norfolk based, CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) certified home technology professionals. We offer CPD presentations to architects, construction professionals and interior designers throughout the region. Get in touch to make the switch over to building Smart.

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