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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Remember Old Faithful?

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Remember Old Faithful?

Remember Old Faithful

Voice control is the new kid in the class getting all the attention. Everyone wants to hang out with them and the old favourites are out of the limelight. Controlling your home with your voice is the new controlling your home with your phone. App and voice control won’t have full run of the Smart Home though, the trusty old remote control has still got a big say in how things are going to be run.

App and voice control have lots of benefits but have obvious flaws. It can take several seconds to unlock your phone, open the desired app and press pause on your smartphone or tablet. It can be frustrating if you get the phrase wrong when asking for the temperature to be turned down on your thermostat. Having Alexa dismiss your well spoken voice request can be infuriating. So the majority of us still reach for the faithful remote control sitting on the arm of the sofa ready to adjust the volume or pause the movie for a snacks refill.

The UK’s favourite remote control is probably the Sky+HD remote and most of us can play, pause, punch in numbers and pull up the TV guide without even looking away from the screen. Try being that tactile with a smartphone app. Remote controls have their downsides too, many Living Rooms have a magnificent collection of different remotes for all the devices connected to your TV. It’s quite common to see three or four remote controls lined up in a row on the arm of chair or on a side table. I’m not even going to go down the route of asking what’s connected to HDMI 1, 2, 3 and 4 in your TV. Declutter that armchair and upgrade to an all in one remote control.

Logitech lead the market with their Harmony range of multi device controlling hand held remotes. Logitech have a remote control for every budget and the higher up you go in the range the more devices you can control and the smarter they get. The flagship controllers can not just control your set top boxes, they can manage your connected home devices like smart lightbulbs, motorised blinds and learning thermostats. Logitech Harmony remotes bring maximum benefits with their Activity feature. Press Watch TV and begin a chain of commands requesting the TV and set top box turns on, the TV turns to HDMI 1 and your favourite channel is keyed in to greet you. Press Watch a Movie and you’ll see the HDMI input change, the set top box turn off and your media streamer turn on. From the solitary handset you have control of thousands of devices on the market, even older products like DVD players and audio amplifiers. The Logitech database of device codes is unrivalled.

Customised can work with you to consolidate your existing TV and home controls into a single handset and app with a Logitech Harmony remote control. And just so voice doesn’t get left out of all the fun, Harmony works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home so you’ll have all three methods of controlling your home with one easy to use control system.

Take advantage of our free survey service and find out more about Logitech Harmony with Customised. http://customised.uk.com/contactus

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Alexa, Call Mum

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Alexa, Call Mum

Alexa, Call Mum

This week I’ve received several messages from clients who wanted to know more about making calls using their Amazon Alexa equipped devices. It shows the power of an app update these days and the attention we are paying to that daily refresh of the icons that fill our mobile devices. Have Amazon rolled out a new feature to the UK market that may be a nail in the coffin for the simple home phone?

Now you can call and message your friends and family who have Echo devices. You can also call and message from the Alexa app on your mobile device but it’s unlikely that Amazon will breakthrough as your preferred messaging platform. It’s the Echo to Echo communication that will excite and gain users. There is a simple setup process using the Alexa app to sync your contacts to the service and it will present you with a personal directory of contacts who are using the service. One thing to check here is if your contacts are up to date. Be aware though that some contacts might not show if a different number is associated with their Alexa account. You might need to help Mum get her Alexa voice service setup but using the service needs little explanation.

 

“Alexa, call Mum”, “Alexa, send a message to Mum” and “Alexa, hang up.” will be now be frequent voice activation phrases in our homes.

 

A green light on your Echo device is the indicator that you have a message or call coming in. Alexa will also announce who is calling you and you can answer the call by saying “Alexa, answer”. If you don’t want to accept the call just say “Alexa, ignore.”

Let us know how you get on with Alexa Calling and look out for the new Echo Show device launching in the UK in November which will provide video calling with Alexa.

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Audio Quest

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Audio Quest

Audio Quest

All the competitors are out on the field. A fervent crowd is captivated by the build up and the excitement. Let the Audio Games begin!

The biggest brands in technology have all unveiled their latest smart speakers in recent weeks. New ones, redesigned ones, mini ones and all voice controlled ones. Speakers of all shapes and sizes are ready to command prime real estate in your kitchen, bedroom and living room. Multi-room music and whole home artificial intelligence is now the new normal and all the big brands are competing to serve you.

You’ll all go out and choose your favourite speaker when they hit the shelves and plenty other blogs, podcasts and videos will tell you about the technical merits of each speaker. What fascinates me is the relationship we are all going to have with audio. Audio holds a huge advantage over video, audio doesn’t steal your time. Video may have been the headline grabber over the years with high definition, on-demand TV and user generated content but watching video is hugely time consuming.

Catch up with a podcast and you can still type an important report, listen to music and you can still cook dinner, receive your flash news briefing and you can still apply your makeup. Try undertaking those three tasks whilst watching the latest episode of your favourite boxset or when watching a tennis or rugby match. Audio is convenient, you can do other things whilst listening. Audio doesn’t steal your time.

The latest wave of smart speakers aren’t just music and podcast streaming devices they are also your very own digital butlers too. Voice assistants are amazing savers of time. Amazon Alexa has paved the way for a lifestyle using voice commands and hands free interactions with technology. Online shopping, smart home control, homework questions and dinner suggestions are just a shout away. Instant messaging will soon move to your smart speaker, evening phone calls to mum will be made through your smart speaker and appointments with your doctor will one day be conducted through your table top assistant. Apple, Google, Amazon, Sonos and their counterparts are all in the market to be your faithful servant and are deeply committed to maximising your time.

I’d love to hear about how you are using voice control to manage your home. Drop me a message on social media to learn more about installing multi-room music and voice assistants in your home.

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Tech Wave Imminent

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Tech Wave Imminent

Tech Wave About To Hit Home

I’m sorry, I know it’s still months away but Christmas is coming around fast and Santa has a workshop full of tech to deliver this Christmas Eve. Home technology devices are going to dominate the wish lists this year and people of all ages are going to be unwrapping the latest internet connected gadgets on the big day. Drones, VR headsets, 4K streamers, face recognising smartphones, fitness trackers, smart doorbells and colour changing lightbulbs are going to plugged in and setup all over the country but there is a huge risk that this latest wave of tech is going to break the internet.

Ok, slight exaggeration, it’s not going to break the whole internet but it’s likely to be too much for your home internet setup. How much traffic can your home router take? How many more devices can sit happily on your network? How far can your Wi-Fi reach before the signal is too slow and weak? Most of us don’t know the answers to these queries and put a huge amount of trust in the freebie router from BT or Virgin. Yes, the speeds are always improving into the home but think about the signal coverage and congestion of your network inside the home.

So many homes have thousands and thousands of pounds worth of technology connected to the freebie wireless router. It often makes me think about sports cars driving around with tiny wheels and filling up with poor quality fuel and oil. Give your tech the infrastructure it deserves.

The process of upgrading your router and wireless network is simple with the Customised Tech Team. Make the call or send a message to Customised HQ, arrange your free survey. One of the team will visit and carry out a brief but detailed survey, at a time which suits you. We can give you the quote there and then for your system and book the installation date if you wish to progress the order.

To give you an idea of the costs involved, our entry level wireless system starts at £499 for a wireless router, two wireless access points and professional installation & setup. A system like this would easily provide a 4 bedroom house with complete Wi-Fi coverage and is built to handle the incoming tech wave about to hit our homes this December.

 

Book your free survey today customised.uk.com/contactus or 01508 528964.

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Smart Savings and Styling with @Netatmo

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Smart Savings and Styling with @Netatmo

Smart Savings and Styling

We’ve reached that time of year again, when the heating starts to get turned on as we feel the Autumn chill. We’ve had huge advancements in thermostats in the last twenty years, from settable to programmable to now the latest wi-fi equipped heating controllers. The concept of controlling your heating from your phone definitely captured tech headlines when Nest and Hive introduced their thermostats nearly four years ago. Although app control of your heating is a great feature the biggest benefit of an intelligent thermostat is the energy saving.

Energy savings are provided by:

  • automatically adjusting the temperature based on whether you’re home, away or even sleeping.
  • learning your patterns when you call for heat and adjusting heating schedules automatically.
  • collecting temperature information from around the home to only send heat to the rooms which need it.

Recent reports have found that the average UK home could expect to reduce energy bills by around 35% with the use of a smart, learning thermostat. The learning part is the standout feature to look for in a thermostat because more often than not the homeowner still sets the temperature too high, has the heating coming on when no one is home and doesn’t make regular changes to the schedule.

A favourite thermostat of the Customised Tech Team is the Netatmo Smart Thermostat. As well as having all the smart features now expected as standard, the Netatmo leads in the styling stakes too. The stunning design by Starck will add design flair to any home with its choice of colours. Netatmo have also embraced different methods to control your heating and offer voice control through Siri, Amazon Echo and Google Home for the ultimate in convenience. There is also an intuitive and easy to use app for your smartphone and tablet.

Netatmo have produced an easy to use energy saving calculator on their website for you to see how much you could save on your bills. Check it out and let us know what you could save.

https://www.netatmo.com/economy

Customised are certified Netatmo Pro installers and would be delighted to explain more benefits of smart heating control during the free consultations we offer. Contact us to book your appointment http://customised.uk.com/contactus

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Netatmo by Starck

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Social Sunday

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Social Sunday

Social Sunday

No rest for the Smart Home Blog with Speed on a Sunday. Family time took up the bulk of today but Sunday has always been a day to spend some time on all the major social media platforms getting the latest Smart Home news from the past week. Twitter is by far the easiest platform to use for detailed searches. I have a number of hashtags I regularly search for and get the tailored results I need. Instagram is my preferred social platform for searching based on location and I have several cities, towns and regions that I concentrate on. I also use Instagram for hashtag related searches just like Twitter. It’s very rare now that I will use Google for these topical and regional searches, so consider social media next time you want local or specialist results.

A spot of DIY at home today has provided us with lots of new plug outlets with USB points built in. I would thoroughly recommend, especially to new builders and renovators, to have a number of these USB equipped outlets listed in your electrical specification. Many of you would think it is quite standard to have them now but it is so often missed out. Ideal places for these charging points are bedside locations, close to where your sofa or armchairs will be in the Living Room, high level sockets in the Kitchen and Study/Office and also in the Kitchen Island. For the Island you should look at pop-up sockets with a number of USB outlets built in. Again, I have seen too many kitchens without ANY sockets on the island, never mind USB, where do you plug in your mixer or juicer? Budget around £15 to £30 for double power sockets with USB depending on brand and finish.

I caught up with the latest edition of T3 magazine and was delighted to see that one of the stars of Smart Home scooped the big Gadget of the Year prize. The Amazon Echo has been a revelation for the control of home technology using voice. It is now being demanded by our customers that their tech is controlled by Alexa. It’s fair to say that if you mention the word Alexa in conversation these days, the majority of people will know what you’re talking about. This for me highlights the dominance of Alexa and I know she is paving the path to a new way of living.

Nine minutes.....done. Look out for another blog tomorrow and do get in touch if there is a specific Smart Home topic you want covered.

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Technology Breaks

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Technology Breaks

Technology Breaks

The daily blog from Customised continues. I pick out some highlights from the day, tap on the keyboard for 10 minutes and post it on various platforms. Let’s do this!

This morning involved a drive up to the North Norfolk coast to assist with issues caused by a power outage at one of our clients homes. Normally everything comes back on as before when the power is restored but on this occasion a few things failed to spring to life again. It’s not uncommon for an electrical item to suffer in a power outage. We replaced a power supply, checked over the whole system and took a fresh backup of the programming. All was happy again. The client questioned the robustness but I politely reminded him that cars break down, printers die, computers crash and bulbs blow. We try not to apologise for things like this happening. There was a power cut, this item didn’t like that, we’ve fitted a new one and all is well again. In the world of technology, Internet of Things (IoT) is a buzz term, at Customised we provide a SoT service. Support of Things. Look our for a follow up blog on this topic.

In the past few months we took a business decision to abandon our spending on traditional advertising methods and embrace digital only platforms. We shifted from newspapers and magazines to social media adverts and distribution of our blogs across several websites. We are excited about working more closely now with Full Mix Marketing on new digital campaigns and have continued our relationship with Archant to work on their digital outlets. We want to create better content about Smart Homes for your mobile devices, we are developing our skills in using audio to communicate better with our audience and we have reached out to collaborators to work on some exciting projects later this year involving video and audio production.

Customised are always on the look out for fellow innovators and creators to work with in East Anglia and in London. If you want to discuss project opportunities with us or you’d like to bring our input to your plans then get in touch with Kris Gamble on kris@customised.uk.com or call 01508 528964.

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