Category Archives: Safety & Security

How to Make Your Smart Home Kid-Friendly

kid-friendly smart home technology

Smart technology and children are often synonymous with smartphones, tablets, and other ways to keep them entertained. What some people don’t realize are the safety and everyday living benefits of having smart homes designed with kids in mind.

Protect your kids – even when you’re not there

Your priority is protecting your kids, especially when any technology is concerned. It’s no longer uncommon for kids to come home from school to an empty house, but now you have the capability to keep an eye on them and make sure they’ve gotten home safely even when you’re at work or running errands.

Give yourself some peace of mind by equipping your home with door and window sensors that let you know when your child has arrived home safely, or a smart lock that gives you the ability to let them in when they’ve misplaced their key. If you’d like even more functionality, consider integrating cameras with two-way communication abilities to greet your family as they get home, or even keep intruders away. For added security and accessibility, consider keeping this control in the palm of your hand on your smartphone so that you can always let in the babysitter, make sure your oldest made it in for curfew, or discourage unwanted visitors from trying to enter your home.

Control the lighting, control your schedule

We all know blackout shades and lighting control help with everyday things like movie-watching and energy-saving, and it’s no secret that lighting and shade control can help keep intruders away, but have you considered the impact light has on your daily routine? Imagine integrating lighting and shade control into your home that will help with signaling that it’s time to get in bed or wind down with a book. You can even set custom settings for the smallest members of your family to help ease that fear of the dark or for a little extra help in the morning when they can’t get up with an alarm.

Optimize your technology for the best experience

We can help you optimize your home and network capability for gaming, family gatherings, and personalized settings for everyone in your home. By setting up a VPN, firewalls, and parental controls, you can keep them safe, while also giving them the ability to stream their favorite music or watch a movie while their friends are over.

We’re here to help, and we’re kid-friendly!

We have the expertise to help you integrate the right kid-friendly smart technology into your home. Let us help you configure your home with the best technology for your family’s needs.

How To Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away for the Holidays

Crestron Lighting and shades enhance home safety and security in Vancouver

We all know there’s no place like home for the holidays, but the reality is a lot of us have to travel. While leaving your home behind can be a stressful part of the season, we’re here to help incorporate smart technology into your home to keep it and your belongings safe while you’re away.

How “secure” is your security system?

The best defense against intruders and other dangers is a security system. Whether you’ve already installed a system or you’re still looking for the right fit, we can help you figure out the best security system to help defend your home. There are endless options to amp up your security – from digital doorbells and locks, to round-the-clock monitoring. Whether you want all the bells and whistles or just the bare essentials, the right tech can help you make sure your belongings are safe!

Lighting is as crucial as an alarm

This doesn’t mean leave all your lights on while you’re gone, though! Using lighting and shade control to your advantage by setting “scenes” based off the time of day make it look like you’re home, which is an excellent deterrent for unwanted visitors. By incorporating dynamic lighting and shade settings, it will look like you never left home. What’s more, proper lighting and shade control can help you save on energy costs at home or away!

Stay safe! Make sure you’re connected 24/7

All of this smart tech can’t be used to the best of its ability if you’re not able to monitor your home from your mobile device, so make sure you have the best apps to keep you connected to your home! By having the right connectivity, you’ll be able to check if the thermostat is properly set, the doors are locked, your kitchen appliances are off, and chat with whoever just rang the doorbell. Staying connected to your home will give you peace of mind while you’re away for the holidays.

Ask an integrator

Consult a professional integrator when considering new safety or smart home tech to make sure you’re getting the best tech to suit your needs and that your features are compatible! Whether you already have the basics or you’re just starting to look, our knowledgeable team of experts at La Scala can help you.

Restoring Peace of Mind

home security camera system

It seems we can’t turn on the television without witnessing an active shooter event, another major corporate hack or devasting natural disaster. We scan the audience at crowded concert halls and nervously put our children on the school bus. What measures can we take to make our families and community safe?

Personal awareness is your first line of defense. Pay attention to your surroundings, conscious of your vulnerabilities and take steps to ensure the personal safety of your family, employees, clients and community. A great, proactive first step is to install a surveillance camera system. Visible cameras are not only an excellent deterrent for would-be criminals but can also provide critical evidence should a crime be committed. A monitored system is invaluable, especially when tied in to a comprehensive life-safety and security system that includes smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, glass-break and motion detectors and panic button call capabilities to first responders.

Criminal’s Worst Enemy

Automated Lighting and motorized shades are an invaluable and effective deterrent. Both interior and exterior landscape lighting can be programmed to imitate home occupancy, whether you’re shopping at Pacific Centre or traveling abroad. Tied in to your camera system, lights can be triggered when motion is sensed with alerts and even video sent to your smart phone. And, regardless of whether it’s your home, house of worship or grocery store, light is crimes’ worst enemy.

Network Health

Physical safety is not our only concern. We’re seeing more and more data breeches among major retailers and, with the holidays fast approaching and many of us shopping online, we need to be diligent to protect ourselves from cyber crimes as well. Again, be smart, be cautious and take steps to ensure the security of your networks, both at home and in your business. If your infrastructure is outdated, don’t put off that upgrade until the new year.

Be Proactive and Prepared

Finally, have a plan. What will you do in the event of a robbery or natural disaster? Does everyone know how to alert authorities, access fire extinguishers, engage smart door locks, etc.? Take the time to check your community’s resources and formulate a plan. If you are interested in having a complimentary assessment of your security or infrastructure systems, please contact us and we’ll get it scheduled.

Please share links to any resources you’ve found to be valuable from your school, our local law enforcement and fire departments, etc. Together, we can make our community a safer place.

Additional Reading from our blog: Tips to keep Your Home Safe for the Holidays

So You Want to Live in a Smart MDU

La Scala MDU Smart Home

As the trend toward multi-dwelling units, MDU, continues to grow along with booming city populations, the desire for more exclusive, luxurious and high-tech living also increases. Whether you’re designing, building or buying, this level of modern luxury is customizable and affordable.

Smart systems designed with the user in mind

The best way to plan for a smart MDU is in the blueprints. Strategically place your outlets, structure all the wiring and optimize connectivity for the best internet connection possible so that your residents will always have the convenience and automation they desire, without sacrificing their design style. Thoughtful placement allows for minimal interior design disruptions. Wiring before the walls go up and considering features like built-in speakers, storage for entertainment features or a whole-home control center at the front door, ensures that design and convenience stay a crucial design element, without having to worry about unsightly wires or bulky equipment getting in the way.

Custom, personal and intuitive

When you look for a new home – whether it’s an apartment, condo, or multi-family residence – you want it to feel like home. There’s no better way to accomplish that than by making sure your MDU comes with a smart home system that can be personalized to suit your lifestyle. Custom climate control, security features and entertainment systems with personalized moods can transform your space with just the sound of your voice, while still keeping you super-connected.

 Convenience, connectivity and energy efficiency are at the top of any buyer’s must-have list, but incorporating smart home technologies like climate control, automated shade and lighting controls means you can also improve your energy efficiencies whether you’re at home or away – and that’s just as important for the resident as it is the owner of the building.

 Safety is key

Now, residents can know what’s happening in their homes, while it’s happening, because some systems can even alert residents and building staff about potential fire and water damage before they become a big problem. Smart home automation also offers endless options that increase safety – from cameras at the entry points, to smart locks, to timed settings for your shades and lights – that protect the building and its residents inside. Connectivity to the concierge desk and any entry points so that you’re only a touch away from communicating with staff and visitors, as well as round-the-clock monitoring ensure your safety and comfort. All of these features are even more attractive when you connect them to your smartphone or tablet.

Get connected

If you’ve been thinking about building an MDU, or currently live in one and want to improve, talk to us today! We can help you design the perfect system for your needs.

How Often Should You Replace Your Smoke Detectors?

What you may not know about smoke alarms

You made a wise decision years ago to install smoke detectors throughout your home or business, keeping your family and property safe in the event of a fire. As the seasons changed, you’ve changed the batteries as recommended, but did you know that those trusted detectors actually have a limited shelf life?

It’s not just the batteries that need to be replaced

Smoke detectors have an expiration date and many currently in use have exceeded their full functionality as dust has accumulated over time, desensitizing the sensors.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends replacing smoke alarms every 10 years.  The date of manufacture can be found on the back or side of the smoke alarm. Wired or wireless, all alarms should be replaced 10 years from that date and not the date of purchase or installation. Making sure they are in good working order is critical because, according to Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA, “Working smoke alarms reduce the risk of dying in a home fire in half.”

Interconnected smoke alarms offer an added measure of safety. Instead of just one sounding when smoke is detected, all units will be activated, signaling every section of the home. When replacing an alarm within a connected system, experts recommend replacing all units within the system, even if some are still working. In addition, any alarm that continues to chirp after its batteries are swapped needs to be replaced, regardless of age.

Resolve to put safety first in the New Year!

If you’ve got any questions about home life-safety and security or are interested in updating your current system or integrating a new system into your home automation system, please give us a call. We wish you and your family a happy, healthy and safe 2018!

Tips to keep Your Home Safe for the Holidays

Put Your Smart Home to Work

Exterior lighting adds to securityThroughout the year we strive to keep you abreast of the latest in technologies and trends. 2017 has witnessed the adoption of integrated voice control, amazing advances in LEDs, incredible strides in virtual reality and much, much more! Our smart homes are getting smarter, but how can we use their features to make our homes safer? Well, here are some simple ways to put your home automation system to work, ensuring you and your family a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

Light it Up!

Every deterrent counts when your home’s vulnerability is assessed and a well-lit home is your first defense against would-be burglars. Use landscape lighting, flood lights and motion-activated lighting around your entire home.

Fake them Out!

Inside & outdoors, create lighting scenes that realistically mimic your patterns while you’re away. Lights, shades, televisions and even the Christmas tree can be programmed on alternating sequences to simulate that lived-in look.

Gate it off!

Be cyber safe by updating your home network. We’re savvy to the latest potential threats and can help protect your home’s critical infrastructure.

Lock it down!

If you’ve got a home security system, use it. If you don’t have one, call us. If you’ve got one and haven’t used it for a while, call us to schedule to check. Aside from deterring potential thieves, a monitored security system alerts first responders to fire and medical emergencies. And this is a great time to check that your carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

Lock it Up!

Automated door locks (keyless smartlocks) with integrated alarms and anti-pick shields add an extra layer of security and convenience.

Keep an eye on it!

Enhance your security system with cameras and motion sensors. Their presence alone is a great deterrent.  You’ll be able to keep an eye on things while away and access recordings should any misdeeds occur.

Download the App!

Embrace the technology at hand and use the myriad features available. They offer incredible convenience and peace of mind.

Pull the plug!

Eliminate the possibility of having your garage door breached while you’re away for extended periods. Simply disconnect it from its power source.

Resist the urge!

We’re our own worst enemies. Don’t flaunt those exquisitely wrapped gifts in the windows for all to see, hold off on that social post from your exotic holiday locale until you’re back home and break down the boxes that your new electronic toys came in to avoid curbside advertising of what’s new on the inside.

Be smart and stay safe and healthy this holiday season. If you have any questions about home automation and its role in your safety and security, please contact us. We’re here to help. Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays.

Additional Resources:

A New Way to Keep Your Things Under Lock and Key

Outsmarting Cyber Crimes against Smart Technologies

Protecting Your Home from Burglars during the Holidays

 

Preparing Your Home For the Holidays

Company’s Coming to Town!

Crestron home with automated shades and multiscreen displaysThe holidays are around the corner! Soon our homes will be filled with festive decorations, mouthwatering scents wafting from the kitchen and guests to entertain! Whether you’ve been thinking about sprucing things up before your guests arrive or simply want to make some comfortable home improvements that will add to your holiday merriment, here are some things you may wish to consider.

Home for the Holidays

Nothing says “Welcome” quite like lighting design. From the moment your guests turn the corner, they’ll see your beautifully lit landscape and inviting walkway.  Highlighted artwork and the soft glow of a chandelier in your foyer make a stunning first impression. Programmed lighting scenes can transform the mood at the touch of a button (or a simple “ask” of your voice control). An “Entertain” setting may turn your kitchen into a bustling center of activity full of food prep and laughter while lowering the downlights, sconces and chandelier in the dining room, setting the stage for the elegant evening meal. Following dinner the lights come back up to your “Clean-up” setting and your favorite holiday playlist ques up, drawing everyone to gather around the fireplace (also integrated into your Crestron home automation system).

On milder evenings you may wish to entertain on your covered patio. Lighting scenes showcase architectural features, planters and fountains for added drama while highlighting uneven walking surfaces and stairs for comfort and safety.  You and your guests can enjoy cozying up with your quilts around the firepit to watch your favorite holiday classics on a weatherproof TV or outdoor projection screen.

If the weather outside is Vancouver “frightful”, bring the party indoors into an updated media room or dedicated home theater. We’ll help you plan the perfect space with plenty of plush custom cinema seating for everyone!

Be the Envy of Your Neighbors

If you’re one who wants to share your joy and seek to become a “destination” (or the next viral video) by putting on an outdoor display that can be seen from space, you’ll need a sound system that’s worthy of the task. Those synchronized music and lighting displays are sophisticated but, if you have an integrated home automation system, we can get you in control and in “sync”!

While the neighbors are out gawking at the lights and enjoying the orchestration, unless you have an infamous Leg Lamp prominently displayed in your front window you may want to add some beautiful motorized window shades.  Automated shades can be integrated with your lighting scenes and come in an elegant array of weaves, styles and colors. They are the perfect solution for hard to reach floor-to-ceiling windows in voluminous rooms and can be on separate settings. They’re also great for blacking out light in areas for TV viewing and are available for custom installations over skylights, stairway/foyer accent windows, etc. Check out this beautiful guide outlining the Top 10 Reasons to Add Crestron Lighting & Shades to Your Home for some great design ideas.

Like a Warm Cup of Cocoa

While preparing your guest rooms, imagine offering them the luxury of automation. Easy-to-read and use touch panels, keypads and hand-held remotes that control lighting, fans, fireplaces and more in their room add elegance and enjoyment to their stay.

All Snug in their Beds

While we’re off dreaming of sugar plums, others are up to Grinch-like behavior scheming to steal the joy from our celebration. Yes, sadly, according to the FBI, nearly 400,000 homes are burglarized during November and December each year. Burglars are opportunists and will move to an easier score when a few simple deterrents are in place. Strong, automated door locks will keep them out while allowing you the ability to “buzz” your family and friends in if you’re caught in holiday traffic. And nothing says “we’re home” like well-timed automated indoor and exterior lighting. And your lighting control can be integrated with your home security system for even greater peace of mind.

So give us a call and let us help you prepare for the holidays! We’ll put together the perfect system for you. All you need to do is create your holiday playlist, address your invitations and start shopping! Shopping? Oh yeah, we’ve got you covered there too! Stay tuned for our gift giving guide. We’ll help you find something for every tech-enthusiast on your list!

Need more Décor ideas? Visit Vancouver Christmas Market

Entertaining ideas outside of your home: Top Things to do in Vancouver at Christmas

Lutron Lighting Design – Inspirational Design Gallery

Feature-Rich and Trouble Free! How to Optimize Your Enjoyment of Your Home’s Technology Systems

We’ve recently talked about getting together to assess your home’s technology systems. It’s always a good idea to make sure you’re abreast of the latest technologies available and how to implement new devices both now and in the near future. The other key to satisfaction with your technology systems is ensuring their technical health. Simple things, such as cleaning components in the equipment rack, go a long way in preventing equipment from overheating. Part 2 of our annual Tech-Up addresses the advantages in having a preventative maintenance plan that would include a visit from one of our technicians.

Proper Digital Health Requires a Regular Check-up and Some TLC

While everything may be running smoothly, it’s possible you’re due for a firmware or software update that could potentially activate new, desirable features. We’ll put your network and systems through a thorough test to ensure functionality and make necessary security updates. We’ll also check to make sure everything is properly connected to your network, preventing trouble down the road.

We suggest you make a note of any questions you’d like to ask during the service call and be sure to advise us of any new devices, features or systems you’re interested in learning about or adding.

An Ounce of Prevention

To optimize your enjoyment and satisfaction and to prolong the life of your system we offer our LaScala Client Care Plan. The Plans offer proactive monitoring and maintenance of your systems. Our goal is zero system downtime and 100% client satisfaction. We understand that from time-to-time, equipment will fail. The goal of our Plans is to be able to discover problems before they occur.

Healthy Network, Happy Home      

All La Scala systems are backed by a Lifetime Warranty on workmanship without exception and our annual service programs ensure years of uninterrupted enjoyment of your system. A proactive service visit with a LaScala Client Care plan would typically include:

  1. Thorough check of network, AV and Smart Home systems, testing each system through a complete operational check to ensure functionality.
  2. Firmware, software and security updates installed as needed.
  3. Minor programming and personalization improvements.
  4. Analysis and tweaks of audio and video performance

 

Your home technology is a part of your everyday life. We want you and your family to get the most out of it and we want you to know we’re here to help. We’d love to hear from you – please call or email us with any questions or to schedule your maintenance visit today!

Move Over Man Cave, The Lady Cave is here to Help Her Disconnect

Men aren’t the only ones to enjoy their personal space. She Sheds, Woman Caves, Lady Caves are throwing the man cave a “curve.” Feeling a need to escape the chaos and disconnect from the disruptive, hyper-connected world, the woman cave provides a soft sanctuary that continues to grow in popularity. Despite all the talk of “disconnecting”, many technologies can actually add comfort, convenience and the fun-factor to the space that is “for girls only!”  Here’s some things to keep in mind as you contemplate designing your personal corner of the world.

Choose your space

This is where the creativity begins. She caves are as varied as their female occupants. A spare bedroom with sunny windows that look out across the harbor may serve as a charming, relaxing haven while an outdoor she-shed (a transformed utility shed) may suit the clever crafter or budding artist quite well. With a little renovating, the attic could become the perfect refuge for the creative writer or provide some quiet “me-time” of yoga. Even a generously-sized closet or dressing room can become a cozy reading nook and, of course, the basement can make the ultimate gal-pal hangout, complete with wine frig and big screen.

Yours and Yours Alone

So, what’s your plan? Your space may require some outfitting or updates to make it comfortable and offer the amenities you desire. Disconnecting doesn’t necessarily mean a space void of any and all connectivity either. If you’re a fitness fanatic or serious music lover, you’ll want your she cave decked out with a nice sound system and HVAC control. The work-from-home entrepreneur will need to rely on a solid, secure network and the wine enthusiast may wish to consult her eSommelier or favorite Vivino app.

Additional smart technologies such as lighting and shade control, remote-controlled fireplaces and water features and user-friendly access to music or video streaming (yes, Chic-flicks!) can actually make things simpler and more comfortable.  And, while you may not want disruptive emails in your sanctuary, you do want to be reached if needed – safety first! And speaking of safety, nothing is more “glam” than security – both physically and digitally. Home technology can help you keep an eye on things – the front door, the crib-cam – which is comforting. Automating tasks such as locking all the doors, lowering all the window shades and turning on the alarm can instill a sense of calm after a chaotic day.

Design

No matter the look or theme of your space, properly planned technologies will not distract from your Zen. Whether working with your designer or putting the space together on your own, we can help by introducing you to gorgeous framed artwork that lifts to reveal your on-wall LCD and speakers that disguise themselves into the ceiling or wall without detracting from the décor. And imagine replacing that unsightly bank of light switches with an elegant keypad or touchscreen!

So, curl up on your chaise, grab your tablet or mirror your laptop on the big screen and scroll through these inspired spaces.  Imagine your perfect little getaway from the everyday and give us a call. Mom cave, shabby chic she shack…whatever suits you, and let’s get started!

Additional Resources:

At Home: The “she-shed” – women’s answer to the man cave

“She Shed:” The Answer to the Man Cave, WSJ Video

Today: Introducing the “She-Shed”: Women’s answer to the man cave

A New Way to Keep Your Things Under Lock and Key

Smart Home Basics: Locks 101

We’ve all been there – you’re running late to work and you realize you never locked the door or closed the garage and you’re already at the office. If you are one of these people, a smart lock or garage might be for you!

With these smart security features, you’ll no longer need to rely solely on your existing monitoring system. By pairing your monitoring system with a smart lock or smart garage, you’re gaining 24/7 remote access to your home and who’s allowed in it – all from your smartphone or tablet. With features like keyless entry, remote locking and alert options, leaving a key under the mat is no longer necessary.

Smart locks and apps like Alarm.com’s have the ability to send you alerts whenever someone enters your home – and you will always know who it is, thanks to unique security codes you can set for each user. And good news for those forgetful folks: these apps can also send reminders whenever you forget to lock the door or close the garage, thanks to GPS monitoring on your phone. Thankfully, you’ll always have the ability to remotely lock and unlock your door.

Want more? Considering a smart lock with a video doorbell, or a camera that records each time your front door is opened. And if you’re one of the 70 percent of people who uses their garage as their main point-of-entry, some apps also feature alerts when movement is tracked by image sensors in your garage. And with a top-notch camera system, such as Luma Surveillance, you can even access remote playback and view live feed via their app.

Regardless of which smart home security technology you think is right for you, make sure you pair it with a professionally-monitored security system.  LaScala can help you pair features with your current or desired home automation system. For monitoring, we partner with Provident Security to keep your home secure. Give us a call and let’s get started. Then, you’ll be able to rest assured that your family (and belongings) are safe.

Additional Resources: Crestron