Tag Archives: home automation

Whenever you think about the holidays, you probably think about presents or twinkle lights. Maybe you think about friends and family around the table, enjoying a meal and each other’s company – or maybe you just can’t wait for pie! The reality, though, is that you’re probably spending a lot more time in the kitchen. Thankfully, there’s new tech available to help you make sure you don’t miss out on any of the festivities.

Make it personal

Your kitchen is one of the most personal, necessary rooms in your entire home and it’s worth taking the extra time to personalize it with the right functionality to fit your lifestyle. Entertainment features like built-in audio or video screens, smart appliances and voice-controlled smart home automation like Josh.ai give you the opportunity to personalize your kitchen to suit your needs for not only everyday living, but for special entertaining, too.

 Your kitchen can be your new sous-chef

There are countless options currently available for smart appliances like refrigerators, ovens and “hubs” like Josh.ai, Google Home, or Amazon’s Echo. And while these might seem a little frivolous at first, it’s worth taking time to consider the added convenience of having them in your home. Having an app connected to your oven means you don’t have to miss the football game or your favorite holiday movie, and that smart refrigerator can text you a picture of your refrigerator’s contents and save you from a second trip to the store. Connect these smart appliances with a hub like Josh, and you’ve got an extra set of hands in the kitchen even when you’re not at home!

 Smart appliance means safety

With hectic schedules, guests on their way and a lot on your plate, you wouldn’t be the first to forget to turn off the stove, turn off the lights or feel like you need to be in two places at once. By incorporating the right smart technologies, you can maximize safety AND convenience in your kitchen. Your stove and oven can now warn you that they’ve been left on – instead of hearing the news from your smoke detector (or worse). You can also increase your energy efficiencies with smart appliances, which helps the planet and your wallet.

If a smart kitchen sounds like the right solution for your family this holiday season, let us help! We’re here to guide you through the best smart technologies for you and your home.

Additional reading: Preparing Your Home for the Holidays

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.

The quality of content these days is unprecedented, as are the vast number of options we have in accessing digital entertainment. Is your home theater or media room making the most of the high definition audio and video available? With summer blockbusters now available for streaming and the holidays just around the corner, now is a great time to add the home theater you’ve dreamed of or to upgrade your existing theater so that you may enjoy the very best audio and visual experience!

Whether you’re a movie lover, serious gamer or avid sports fan, a dedicated home theater is an exceptional space for home entertainment. And with technologies like Dolby Atmos and 4K, enjoying the sights and sounds in a room specifically designed for hi-performance audio and video create the ultimate entertainment experience!

What’s the right choice for you? Home Theater vs. Home Media Room

Your home media room offers a great space for enjoying some family-time movie-watching and for hosting your friends on game day. It can boast stunning OLED or 4K display quality along with Smart TV streaming and social media features. A well-designed and outfitted media room can also take advantage of exceptional audio through a surround sound or Dolby Atmos system. One potential downside however, is its central location; today’s open floor plans often place the media room adjacent to the kitchen. While this is great for engaging conversation, it is not ideal for either sound or picture quality as the room is open to the back and likely flooded with natural light. These features distract viewers from enjoying a truly immersive movie-watching experience.

Creating an immersive cinematic experience

A dedicated home theater includes technologies specifically designed to perform in the controlled space. Acoustic issues have been addressed for optimal sound as well as for noise-control from adjacent spaces. Custom seating is ideally positioned for comfort and viewing enjoyment rather than based on window placement or conversation. Speaker systems, like Bowers & Wilkins flagship custom theater series, can be positioned and calibrated in the defined space as designed.  This space is generally free of glare as it will rarely feature windows. If there are any windows, they will have been treated with black-out shades to maintain the perfect environment to soak in an afternoon football game or to binge-watch your favorite streamed series.

In a purpose-built space, décor doesn’t depend on the rest of the house, so the sky is the limit (actually, it’s not; you can add a custom fiber-optic constellation mural on the ceiling!). A home theater is also a place that reflects your personality and style– from mid-century modern to transitional or something all “you” like the Millennium Falcon, Batman’s lair or a wine cellar reminiscent of the south of France. Here’s a little inspiration: CinemaTech Gallery.

The set up can be one or multiple screens, or a hybrid of multiple screens for watching sports with a large projection screen that drops down for serious movie watching. Integrated controls allow the user to choose from a variety of streamed or local content. The content may be exclusive to the theater or shared across the home’s systems from a movie server.

Theater Trends

Aside from mind-blowing imagery and sound, what’s trending in custom theaters now?

Where will you be hosting holiday game-watching and cozy mid-winter movie nights? Give us a call and let’s get started planning the best seat in the house! Oh yeah, Josh, please start the movie!

This stunning waterfront residence earned three of the custom electronic design industry’s most prestigious awards: Best Integrated Home, Technology Meets Design and Life Lived Best at Home.

The “Technology Meets Design” award celebrates the best integration of technology that complements the design scheme for the room or home. The judges, drawn from the  architecture and interior design community, were looking for a project that showed a successful working partnership with the integrator and design and build industry partners and our relationship with Vancouver’s Aaron MacKenzie-Moore Design was nothing short of exemplary.

“La Scala’s ability to incorporate technology into the home’s aesthetics are in full evidence here, as the team says:

The homeowners love to entertain but made it clear that the interior look and quality of finish must not be compromised with the introduction of technology. Sound was expected in all rooms of the home but not seen. Invisible speakers were used in 16 zones which included all three guest suites, hallways, closets, laundry room, and invisible subwoofers rounding out the sound in the family room. The media room is a non-traditional room that is also used as a reading lounge that overlooks the beach.

Soft furniture, motorized roller shades, and heavy fabric curtains were included to soften the hard surfaces and increase the acoustic opportunities, as well as to block out the ambient light coming from the beach-front windows.

Life Lived Best at Home, a CEDIA Cornerstone

Having won in the “Best Integrated Home” and “Technology Meets Design” categories, the judges sought a winner for the “Life Lived Best at Home” designation. Beyond the technology and aesthetic design considerations, the judges now were looking for a “residence that used technology to maximize and enhance the client’s lifestyle, providing functionality, safety, entertainment, convenience, aesthetics, and efficiency.” Not only did this project incorporate the technology beautifully into the home’s design, but the judges agreed that it encompassed the homeowner’s desires, considerable enhancing their lifestyles.

A scene called “Movie Night” on the control system, which softens the media room by dimming the lights, rolling down the shades, and drawing the curtains while turning on the media room components.

A single button solution puts the home into “Entertain” mode. The system needed to be flexible, so the homeowner could make minor scene adjustments without the need of a programmer or site visit.

We offer a few control solutions, but the feature of using real pictures of the home to navigate the control system was very appealing for our clients. The Savant system provided this option.

The team at La Scala is extremely pleased with the project outcome and proud of the recognition received. Please contact us to learn more and visit the links below to view the project gallery and read about the additional accolades yet to be won for this gorgeous waterfront home.

See the Gallery of Photos

International Design Award Excellence Finalist SBID 2018

IDIBC 2018 Shine Awards of Excellence

Summer is in full-swing and the holidays inevitably are approaching. Before you know it you’ll likely be hosting an out-of-town guest or two. You might be ready for visitors – but is your home? Whether it’s a party that requires a reliable system to impress and keep your guests entertained or some in-laws visiting that could benefit from more intuitive controls, there’s a lot to consider! If you haven’t thought about your home’s technology in a while, now might be a good time.  Upgrades to your home automation can ensure your systems are working seamlessly in time for your guests.

Home Automation Simplifies Control

You might have mastered your control panel, but will your guests be able to figure out how to turn the lights on and off and adjust the thermostat before they go to bed? Is your lighting control is a bank of switches at the front door or are your shades on a separate remote? Talk to us about integrating your systems and simplifying control. It’s crucial to make sure your controls are easy enough for your guests to understand.

Service Plan add Peace-of-Mind

Maybe you already have all the right home automation tech in place. However, when was the last time you checked your service plan? Having a proactive service plan for your home automation system from a knowledgeable integrator like La Scala helps ensure you’ll always be up and running.  We’ll be alerted before any potential problems arise. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check your network and make sure it’s robust enough to handle streaming on all your guests’ devices.

Regardless of whether you’re entertaining a few or dozens, for a night or a week, make sure you have the right smart home technology and the best service plan in place. Both you and your guests will be comfortable and thoroughly entertained.

 

Smart home technology might make you think of temperature, automated lighting and shade control, voice-control entertainment and security. What you might not realize is that this technology can extend into your wine collection.

Gone are the days of having your wine unprotected and at the wrong temperature or worrying about a power outage at home while trekking across Europe. There are numerous options for any level of connoisseur and any size collection. New technology from the standard cooler to a fully-equipped cellar, complete with the accessibility and organization at your fingertips thanks to state-of-the-art smart home technology and apps, makes this investment an excellent one for your home.

These systems have many benefits, the most important being their ability to connect with your existing home automation technology. Motorized shades, lighting and audio aren’t just for your living areas anymore – you can utilize your smart home tech to play your favorite music, control the temperature, adjust the lighting and protect your cellar from unauthorized guests. For those with serious collections, many systems offer monitoring of your inventory, so you know what bottle has been accessed, by whom and when.

High-tech options like the Elertus Wine Protection System or the IWG Cellar Cerveau offer your collection protection from humidity, temperature changes and power outages. Systems like the Cellar Cerveau and eSommelier come equipped with label recognition software and RFID label technology to help you track your inventory – down to where the bottle is in your cellar and what your collection is worth. What’s more, some systems come pre-configured with an expansive listing of data like wine types, grape varieties and tasting notes, while others can also offer suggestions for new additions.

Whether you’re just starting your collection or have been an oenophile for decades, consider the value of automating your wine cellar. La Scala has been privileged to work with some of Vancouver’s finest designers to integrate these features into our clients’ cellars and would welcome the opportunity to work with you and your design team. Need a little inspiration?  Check out these five luxury homes featuring next-level cellars with automated controls. Can’t wait? Give us a call and let’s get started!

Why home automation?

It’s simple, really. It’s about making your everyday tasks easier and making the complex simple. Some think home technology is purely luxury. Well, that depends on your definition.

Home automation is exactly that; it automates features in your home. Those features may include your lights, window treatment, smart door locks, climate, garage door, security features and more. It makes them work together as one. Sure, it’s a nice to pull up in front of your home late at night and, right from your phone, be able to activate a welcome scene that lights your path and home’s interior while unlocking the door. But it also helps to keep you safe. And imagine if faced with a fire or medical emergency – first responders could easily identify the home with the flashing entry lights. With this technology available, doesn’t it just make sense?

And let’s consider efficiencies of saving energy, time and money. Imagine occupancy sensors that turn off the lights in an empty room and motorized shades that raise and lower to either take advantage of the sun’s warmth to light and heat your home or block it out when the heat is intense. Lighting control with pre-set scenes of slightly dimmed lights also yield savings, while adding ambiance and convenience.

As a parent, home automation offers peace-of-mind. You can get an alert when your teen makes it home safely or remotely open the door when the need arises. As a caregiver, simple automated features, accessed by voice control, can keep an aging loved one in their home longer while sensors can let you know if they’re out of bed and have opened the medicine cabinet.

In this fast-paced world, why not simplify where it makes sense and make your everyday a little easier? Free up some time to enjoy the true luxuries, like extra time with friends and family. Call us today and let’s explore how we can make your everyday easy.

The tiny interface that can understand your natural language and connect your whole home

Josh aiYou’ve automated your entire home. Your new, smarter home—outfitted by your professional technologies integrator—is complete with all of the control systems necessary to keep your home in check. But how do you plan to keep it all connected?

Meet your home’s new interface, Josh. Josh.ai is a luxury voice control system, designed to work with your professionally-installed home automation. Leading the industry in Natural Language Processing and complete with machine-learning to adapt to you and your preferences, Josh is easy to use. When properly installed by a professional integrator, Josh ensures the best home automation experience.

Josh.ai is “artificial intelligence as unique as the home it runs,” and serves as a whole-home processor, connecting with all of the devices in your network, from pre-existing control systems like Crestron and Lutron. The interface, designed to fit the aesthetic of any room, can go anywhere and do anything you want in your home. Its touch-sensitive surface works to control event triggers like mood lighting or volume control — a feature only outdone by its intelligent voice control and ability to understand natural language.

Josh can help you control the temperature, humidity and lighting in your home to make your home even smarter. Its sensors can tell which room you’re in and can adapt its functions using its contextual awareness. Josh allows you to make your home automation smarter, without even needing to physically interact with it.

If you’re serious about automating your home and making your professional installation work for you, Josh could be the “holistic interface” you need.

Working with a pro ensures the best design, reliability, performance and service for your home technology systems

Savant Smart Home Luxury LifestyleWith the myriad innovative smart home technology devices on the market today, how do you know which is best…and which is the best for you? Smart locks and security devices are wonderful to have, but they’re much more valuable if they’re integrated into your home’s control system. Lighting control, motorized window shades and automated garage control are not only convenient, but also a great way to mimic that someone is home while you’re away…particularly if you can access them remotely. So, of all the must-have technologies out there, how do you determine the right solution for you – for now, for tomorrow and beyond?

Tech “Talk”, tools and know-how

Your devices and systems need to talk to one another, and we speak their language. As a CEDIA Professional and Technologist, we have an extensive depth and breadth of knowledge in home technologies and stay current on emerging trends. We know what’s available and, based on your needs and desires, can design a system that will work seamlessly together and be easily controlled. We’ll make sure you’ve got the infrastructure to support it (all those connected devices will be competing for bandwidth!) and that we’ve taken future demands into consideration.

Connected, compatible & scalable

What makes a smart home so smart? It’s a system that works together. It’s an orchestration of elegant, convenient features that control music and lighting throughout your home, secure your entryways, control your climate, access your water features and pool pump, watch over your wine collection, close your shades and light up the fireplace. It’s a scalable system that anticipates growth and an increasing number of devices on your internet of things. It’s a maintenance plan that offers peace of mind. It’s an everyday luxury that puts safety, comfort and entertainment at your fingertips.

Leave the worry and wondering up to us. Give us a call and let’s work together to discover the right solution for you.

Are you part of the 25 percent of people who own some kind of smart home product? If you’re not, you’ve probably at least heard about Amazon’s Alexa, if not seen its latest Super Bowl commercial.

What you might not have heard is that smart home technology is taking the real estate industry by storm. In fact, artificial intelligence and other smart home technology can actually increase the resale value of most homes – an important factor to consider now that more and more Millennials are buying homes and interested in smart, connected devices.

This trend makes sense. Smart home technology can increase energy efficiency, saving homeowners money on utility bills, while also providing eco-friendly perks. Combine money-saving with the added convenience of controlling your thermostat and connecting all of your media, to the safety and security of keyless entry, video doorbells and 24/7 monitoring, and it’s no wonder why so many homeowners are investing in this tech and making the switch to a smarter home.

Houzz also reported an increase in the desire for smart technology integration amongst home buyers, especially first-time buyers, in their 2017 Houzz and Home renovation overview. This came along with an increase in “green” energy and material trends, as well as improving the functionality of a home and alleviating health concerns, which can also all be addressed with the right smart technology.

Controlling every aspect of a home is so crucial to some home buyers, that integrating these systems can not only increase the overall market value of your home by 3-7 percent, but also speed up the time it takes to sell it. Need help deciding which tech to implement before you sell? According to A Lot Living, “the [automation systems] that can add the most value include whole house lighting control, automated door locks, temperature control that works from a phone, and security cameras, as well as home alarm systems.”

In a culture where people are busy and constantly connected, more and more home buyers are prioritizing the connectivity and convenience offered by home automation, artificial intelligence and other smart technology systems. So whether you’re looking to buy your first home or sell one you’ve had for a while, consider the benefits of a fully-automated home.

The Integration of home automation and healthcare is life-changing

We’re just beginning to realize the extensive benefits of home automation. For years, we’ve recognized the luxuries, conveniences, comforts and safety aspects of an integrated home, but we’re learning that those attributes are just the tip of the iceberg. Today’s smart home can aid the disabled, monitor the ill and enable our Vancouver residents the opportunity to stay in their homes longer.

It wasn’t so long ago that baby monitors hit the market. We could breathe a sigh relief while carrying the walkie-talkie-like device around from room to room. And then…baby cams were introduced and suddenly we could watch over them day and night. Flash forward and now we can check in on our homes via our smart phones anytime and from anywhere. We appreciate the convenience and peace of mind that brings in terms of home security or even keeping watch of our pets, but imagine the comfort of being able to watch over an elderly parent.

Automated Healthcare

Modern healthcare is finding new, innovative ways to capitalize on our connected homes, allowing people to remain in comfortable, familiar surroundings longer. Automated, simple-to-use devices can remind an elderly person to take their medication or instruct an autistic individual how to prepare a meal.  Caregivers can be alerted when an Alzheimer patient opens a door or when a diabetic’s glucose monitor sounds. For an added measure of security, automated lighting can be triggered as well so that, in the event an audible alarm is missed, visual cues will wake the caregiver while lighting the way to their loved one.  Visual prompts can also be life-enhancing for the hearing impaired and elderly.

Voice and “Stress” Control

The more recent introduction of integrated voice control has opened up a whole new realm in home healthcare. Individuals that may otherwise be unable to physically or mentally operate a touch panel or control device can now gain control of appliances, entertainment and security devices, affording them independence.

Home automation and, more specifically, voice-controlled devices also have a positive impact on our mental health. Multiple medical studies from various academics from Rutgers, Stanford, and University British Columbia have concluded that individuals who feel a greater sense of environmental control demonstrate increased persistence, motivation, and optimism, and have been shown to have lower risk for psychopathology. That research extends to a homeowner’s ability to be “in control” of their smart home, accessing features that reduce worry and, therefore, stress levels.

The life-saving stories are many and we can each likely envision a scenario where remote monitoring, automated lighting, cameras, door locks and voice control can make ours and our family’s life easier, healthier and more gratifying. Innovative technologies continue to transform our lives. Home automation, once considered purely a luxury, has become a wonderful, life-changing tool and essential part of our daily lives. Healthcare, along with our homes, just gets smarter and smarter.

Mental Health Benefits of Owning a Smart Home, CEPro

Health Care in Home Automation Systems with Speech Recognition and Mobile Technology, American Journal of Engineering Research (AJER)

Digital Doctors: Home Automation is Redefining Healthcare, Collective Evolution

5 ways tech is changing retirement, Ameriprise Advisors

After Son’s Diabetes Diagnosis, IoT Exec Sees Big Role for Home Automation in Disease Management, CEPro

How Alexa’s best skill could be as a home health-care assistant, CNBC

In this ever changing world that we live in, there is no escaping technology.  Our personal world appears more and more to be enveloped by a device we call a “smart phone”, although more and more of the ‘phone’ use is being replaced by a myriad of ‘apps’, and other functions of the device.  From capturing visual moments on the fly to directing us to our next destination, to telling us how to cook our favourite dishes, this device has come a long way since its inception over twenty five years ago.

Today’s vehicles are also following suit in the technology game.  Most new vehicles today don’t require a key to open the door or start the car, instead opting for a ‘fob’ device one can keep in one’s pocket or purse, and which transmits a signal notifying the vehicle that you are within its vicinity.  More, the car will know that it’s actually ‘you’ that is near, and adjust the seats, mirror, and other features to your taste – automatically.   Voice commands and other formerly futuristic features are now becoming commonplace in today’s vehicles as well.

But what about your home?  When most people arrive at their door, they pull out a device that was invented in the 1840’s – a tumbler lock key.  Once inside, you feel around for the light switch, invented in 1884.  You can probably guess where I’m going with this – the home hasn’t caught up with technology, or has it?   While only 12% of homes currently might be considered ‘smart’, that figure is projected to double and triple over the next few years.  Why?  Because the technology is truly getting ‘smart’, and the price is way down.

Much is being said about devices in your home being integrated and controlled by a singular control device.  Be it shading, lights, temperature, security, locks, the pool/hot tub, and any number of other electronic devices, there are systems that will control them all, via a wall mounted or portable ipad or remotely through your ‘smart’ phone.   But what about Automation?  A True Smart Home should work for the home’s occupants, just like your car does.  When you arrive home, your home should know it and act accordingly.   You can have your system set up so that certain lights turn on at a pre-set time, the shades close, the temperature goes up, and even have the door unlock if the system sees that you are within feet of the door.  You could also have one button programmed on your control device that says “Party”, amongst other feature sets.  The lights in various areas could alight or dim, the music could begin to play from your favourite source in various specific areas of the house that you’ve previously chosen, and at a pre-set volume level.  The gate could unlock for a specified timeframe to allow guests easy access.  When you leave your home, press ‘goodbye’ and the security could engage, the shades could close, the music could turn off, the temperature could drop, and all the lights could turn off.  If you’re away for an extended period, the lights (and other devices like music) could turn on and off based on your previous two weeks of use so it appears as if you’re home.  The list of options is endless.  Wake up options, going to sleep options, dinner party options, and more.  This year will see a surge in Voice Activated command technology, offering even easier control of all home devices.  This is not just a ‘cool’ gadget, but something that will become a mainstay of home control system installations.

At a time when technology is offering so many opportunities to enrich and simplify ones daily life, it is clear that technology is moving into the house.  For more insight into the options available see your La Scala Integrated Media representative.

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

 

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

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!

The transition to fall brings many changes; mild temps that have us rushing outdoors to enjoy fall festivals and food trucks, our beautiful Vancouver bursting with color (plan a trip to VanDusen Botanical Garden!), the onslaught of pumpkin-flavored everythings…and the slew of marketing messages stuffed into your bills suggesting it’s time to review your policies!  Just like your homeowner’s policy, auto coverage and health insurance are affected by the change in seasons and life events, your home’s technology systems may benefit from an annual assessment too. 

Imagine all of the devices connected to your personal “internet of things.” How many of those devices have been added since your network was initially set-up? A network upgrade may yield a remarkable difference in your system’s performance.  And of those new devices, how many were added to your home media system? Are you getting optimal image and sound quality? And how are they controlled? Some minor programming tweaks could go a long way in how your family uses and enjoys your home’s technology.

To Your (System’s) Health!

As a CEDIA professional, we recommend an annual “tech-up”, a comprehensive assessment of your home’s technology systems to ensure your system’s “health” and to gauge how happy you are with it and what it provides.  We all know how fast time flies and, in “tech” years, that’s “amplified” even more. If it’s been a year, or 3 or 5 since your system was installed, chances are you’re not taking advantage of all it has to offer.

You’ve got Questions, We’ve got Answers

Let’s set aside an hour to just sit down and talk about how you use your home’s systems. We’ll talk through all of your technology questions; what can my new Apple watch do? How do I set up Alexa to control my automated shades and lighting? Is my media room 4K ready? How do I integrate CDs onto a new platform? Can my new gaming console be integrated onto my remote control so I can stream movies?

There’s nothing we love more than to talk tech! Let’s get all your questions answered….maybe even some you hadn’t thought of! We’ll explore your existing system demands. Maybe you added new users to your network or are working from home. And we’ll determine if there are any upgrades available that could maximize performance or add features. We can also address anything you’re currently wanting to add or change and, together, develop a strategy for implementing NextGen technologies.

It’s an exciting time in the home automation industry. Systems are integrating more elegantly and efficiently than ever before and voice commands are at the center of it all. Art and technology are truly fusing to create innovative, sophisticated forms of concealment and google and Apple continue to influence everything that touches tech. We’ve got lots to talk about!

Make a Note!

Like prepping for any valuable appointment, as your technologist we suggest you start of list of things you’d like to discuss during our visit so that we get the full picture of your technology needs. Do a quick walk-through and think about how adding or tweaking a feature could be beneficial. Write down your questions, what you’ve added to your system and what you want to add!

Your home’s technology is a part of your everyday life and we appreciate you entrusting us with its care. Please know we’re here to answer your technology questions and help you make the most out of your systems, now and for years to come. Call now and schedule your annual Tech-up! We welcome the opportunity to reconnect.

And be sure to check back soon. We’ll discuss optimizing your system’s health through a comprehensive preventative maintenance program that takes the worries out of everything from changing batteries in the smoke detector to checking for firmware updates. Stay tuned!

It’s time for the glow up

When coming home from a long day at work, the last thing you want to encounter when you walk in the door is a wall of various wall plates, switches and knobs – all of different sizes, shapes and functions. This “wall acne” is not only inconvenient and confusing, it’s often a serious design obstacle in many homes. Thankfully, recent technological advances in home automation have brought sleek, stylish and sophisticated back.

Imagine combining all of your many controls in your entry way, by the garage door, or in your bedroom using one seamless keypad, instead of a mash up of random buttons and switches. This new, design-forward approach to technology synthesizes your lighting and temperature control, security and entertainment systems, and even your garage door opener into one user-friendly interface – reflecting the current trend in minimalism and ease-of-use.

It doesn’t stop at just convenience and style. This new home automation can help you improve your energy usage by automatically adjusting the temperature or lighting and shade control, depending on the weather or the amount of people in the room.

Your home automation tech specialists can help you design the right system to clear up your acne and reveal clean, smooth walls.

Gone are the days of home automation and luxury being two separate conversations and design concepts. More and more, luxury living is embracing home automation in order to provide optimal comfort solutions.

Imagine walking into your home, and the first thing your eye is drawn to is the artwork in your foyer – highlighted using experienced lighting design. Entertain guests with your high-tech wine cellar, complete with automated climate control and inventory management system. Even more, control the quality of the air inside your home.

And the options don’t end on the inside. Control luxury water features, audio and video entertainment systems, even operate a summer kitchen by the pool.

Home automation technology provides the epitome of luxury when combined with your own design style. The right technology will allow you to personalize your system to suit your lifestyle, giving you control of everything in your home – from the window shades, to the temperature and air quality, to your lights and even your security system. Advances in this technology provide you easy access to your entire home from your phone or tablet, and some systems can even operate via voice-activation.

With today’s trends in home automation luxury, nothing is off-limits. Whether you want a top-of-the-line smart kitchen, an all-encompassing security system, or an over-the-top outdoor movie theatre – there is a right mix of home automation technology for you that can be designed to suit your individual home design style.

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

With more millennials buying their own homes, smart home technology is on the up-and-up.

Houzz’s recent survey found that first-time home buyers – millennials in particular – are prioritizing smart home technology in new home construction and renovations.

New residential developments are emerging across the country, equipped with the latest and greatest features in smart technology. Texas, for example, is about to be home to a new development incorporating room for the smart technology decades from now, and how could impact its construction. High-speed fiber networks, outdoor technology with interactive capability and neighborhood safety and features have become a mainstay in residential construction, right at the top of their wish list.

Houzz’s survey also uncovered an interesting trend in integrating smart technology into their home renovations, for those who don’t want new construction. If you’re one of the 33 percent of recent home buyers who are considering investing in some form of smart technology in their homes, make sure you’re hiring the right pros to do it.

With home automation technology on the rise, it’s widely available. The demand for more innovation and creativity in smart technology is good news for both the home buyers and the integration professionals – especially now that more home owners are spending money on optimizing their space with tech. The right smart home technology has the ability to transform any home into a stylish, comfortable and safe home environment.

Even though smart technology can keep you safe, it’s just as important to protect your devices from hacking and other threats. According to Twice, customers are consistently seeking out IT support services in order to protect themselves from hackers. Consulting with professional integrators will help you determine the best tech for your needs and your home, without compromising safety.

Incorporating smart technology into your favorite rooms creates aesthetics and luxury in any home.

Style and comfort are crucial to any home’s design; and implementing smart technologies into your design plan can provide a custom solution that gives you full control and accessibility of your favorite spaces. Equipping key rooms in your home with technology can provide endless comfort, while still complementing your individual style.

Home automation in the Master Bedroom

Home automation adds elegance and comfort throughout your home

Keeping your style in mind is 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 experience, without compromising your rooms’ style.

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.” For instance, by discreetly enclosing your television in a beautiful cabinet that matches your décor and in-wall speakers covered by your wallpaper or custom paint, bulky and aesthetically unpleasant equipment are hidden.

But this trend expands beyond just your bedroom. Imagine catching your favorite show while you’re in the shower, or checking up on your home’s surveillance video while you’re cooking dinner. More and more, homeowners are deciding to add technology in their bathrooms and kitchens – ensuring continuous accessibility at an arm’s length.

Finally, don’t forget your favorite outdoor spaces! Integrated lighting, video and audio technology are just as important in your indoor living spaces as they are the outside. Mood-lighting and discreet surround sound speakers can provide the same level of comfort and style in any livable space.

Let’s get started on your wish list.

Resist!  It’s a sunny 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 basement 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 motorized 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 while the shades are down, can lights on with shades at 50%….elegance, control and options galore!

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. Put the drill down and pick up the phone. We got this!

Your vacation home should be just that, a vacation.  It’s a restful sanctuary free from headaches, unnecessary chores and stress.  This is where an automated home can shine, literally.

You may be imagining your lakefront home with automated control of your lights, shades and water features. Or perhaps your mountain retreat with outdoor audio, a weatherproof LCD and remote control of your fire feature.  These features add enjoyment and value to your property.  But when you’ve made your Friday afternoon escape and pull into the drive, the last thing you want is a surprise such as a burst water heater, an A/C that’s been left on or, worse, evidence of a break-in.

From basic security features and keyless entries to more sophisticated occupancy and water sensors, your home can alert you should something go amiss.  If a pipe bursts you can react immediately and get a service technician on the property, hours before you may be able to arrive.  You can grant him access and have the repair performed before long-term damage can occur.

As a rental property, there is a tremendous perception of luxury and value in automation.  Easy navigation of the home’s unfamiliar entertainment system, for example, will increase their overall “experience” and enjoyment.  And they’ll appreciate the added security, particularly in remote areas.  You’ll appreciate that you can remotely mange your guest network, controlling which devices are allowed to be controlled, as well as the ability to turn off the A/C or heat when a door is left open.

Upon your guests’ check-out, you can remotely assess the home’s condition, ensure the lights are off, the shades are closed, the appliances are as they should be, the thermostat is set and the gate is latched.

When you’re ready to plan your perfect vacation get-away home, give us a call, even if it’s out of our area.  We can help design your luxury system and work with a trusted network of integration partners to make sure you’ll receive the service you’ve come to expect from us.

Alexa, open the shades.  Alexa, play music.  Alexa, ask fitbit what my resting heart rate is. Ahhhhh.

How smart is your smarthome? Can it order a pizza? If Alexa were your virtual assistant it could!  Now THAT’s a SMARTHOME!  Alexa lives in the cloud and is automatically updated.  She comes with Echo, a far-field enabled device that activates upon hearing a “wake word”.  Echo also happens to be a 360° omni-directional speaker.  Ok, it’s not whole-house audiophile quality, but it’s a pretty cool way to stream your favorites through a portable device.

So why do we, a systems integrator, love it?  We love simplified solutions and Alexa makes control of your home’s systems even easier. She’s compatible with your Crestron home automation system, with Lutron Shades and more. And while all that is convenient, there’s a key life-safety feature not to be ignored.  Imagine the peace of mind of having Alexa for those “aging in place” with limited mobility.  Voice-activated technology can restore freedom and grant a measure of security.

Alexa, close the shades.  Alexa, what’s my heart rate now?