This is what the future of the smarthouse looks like

Daniella Brandy

  • Crestron has partnered with Amazon Alexa to create a fully connected home system activated by voice.
  • You can create “scenes” that combine several functions together and can be triggered by phrases such as “let’s have a dinner party”.
  • It’s not just for residential buildings — commercial properties can utilise the technology too.

Imagine coming home after a long day at work and being able to open the front door, turn the lights on, close the blinds, and put on the news just by saying a few words.

Crestron, a home automation and control company, has partnered with Amazon Alexa to create a fully connected system for a home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs that can do just that.

Trevor Rooney, the national sales manager for residential markets ANZ at Crestron says that it’s the third fully connected house they’ve created for the owners.

Alexas are dotted around the home to capture the voice controls.

Instead of just saying “open the blinds” or “turn the lights down”, you can create “scenes” with a keyword or a phrase which combine a range of functions into one.

Say, for example you’re having a dinner party and you want to create the appropriate atmosphere.

You can program a scene that will close the blinds, dim the lights and turn on the music, and activate it using the phrase “let’s have a dinner party”.

While advanced, the system is not failsafe, as voice control recognises around 90% of what you say.

To combat this, touchpads affixed to walls and smartphone apps to control settings are provided as a backup.

We recently had a look inside the home.

Here’s what it looks like from the outside

Daniella Brandy

You can see small details that almost give away the hidden tech inside.

There are multiple cameras on the outside of the building. If someone rings the doorbell and you’re in another room, if you have your smartphone with you, you can open the app and check out the live CCTV footage of who is waiting at the door.

You can then say “open sesame” to open the front door and let them in.

Alternatively, you can also set a scene called “intruder” to turn on an emergency siren and lights while you call the police.

Here’s the setup in the kitchen

Daniella Brandy

Alexa can read you a recipe as you cook, instead of referring to a cookbook.

You can also get it to turn on the oven or the exhaust fan.

It’s inconspicuous on the benchtop.

The home theatre is connected too

Supplied

The system can dim the lights, close the door and turn on your favourite movie.

If you’re a music fan and just want an immersive music experience in the theatre, you’re in luck.

Sonos and Crestron have partnered up so your Sonos speaker can be controlled via the Crestron app.

Don’t forget the loungeroom

Daniella Brandy

The phrase “TV time” turns the smart TV on, closes the blinds, and dims the lights around the couch.

It turns the TV on to whatever channel or streaming service you want, too.

This this what the dinner party scene looks like

The blinds close, the music and the lights turn on, all activated by the phrase.

The phrase “good morning” turns on the lights, and opens the curtains

The system isn’t just for homes, though.

It can be commercial or residential, and it’s scalable for small and large buildings.

“The end user for us is key,” Rooney says.

“Imagine the implications for aged care. There’s the concept of not getting out of chair, the concept being able to turn lights on and off with just your voice.”

“The disability sector could create buildings like this so disabled people can control settings easily.”

It gives a level of autonomy for people who may rely on others for this sort of thing.

This particular house uses Alexa, but devices from Google, Apple and Microsoft can also be used.

A setup like this doesn’t come cheap though. This home cost $150,000 to connect.

A single room costs about $2,000-$3,000.

Daniella BrandyThe server

You’ll also need a spare closet or small room to store the server, which as you can see from the photo on the right, is pretty large.

It might seem like this sort of system that would take months to set up, but it doesn’t take as long as you may think.

“When someone comes to us with a request to connect their home, usually we will get a programmer who will sit down with the owner to discuss what they’d like,” says Rooney.

The programmer takes only about an hour to create the code to program lights and blinds, and slightly longer for anything more complicated.

Crestron recently won Microsoft’s 2018 Internet of Things Partner of the Year at the Microsoft Inspire event in Las Vegas.

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