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Connected solutions to help us disconnect

We are living in an increasingly connected world. Connected devices and associated software are improving the communications and productivity in our working lives and—through the development of home automation—enhancing the convenience and comfort of our leisure time. By necessity, home automation is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ proposition; in fact it covers a broad palette of possibilities, limited in reality only by the imagination of the individual.

Where once smart home solutions were available solely for the extremely wealthy, today there are many high-end options that deliver comparable levels of luxury at a fraction of the cost. A good example of this is the modular MyHome automation offering from global solution specialists for electrical installations and digital building infrastructure, Legrand.

MyHome enables all a home’s electrical functions—including lighting, heating/cooling, entertainment, access control and security—to communicate with each other, using the same two-wire simplified cabling topology, and be controlled together from a central hub. The intercommunication capability between separate elements allows sophisticated, energy-saving outcomes to be programed as scenarios.

A ‘Goodbye’ setting, for instance, enables the user to turn off the lights, shut down the heating/cooling and close the blinds, while activating the alarm system—all at the press of a single button. Similarly, a ‘Lived In’ scenario can be programmed to activate lights and blinds when the house is vacant, to make it look occupied.

Seamlessly synchronised

Modular by design, MyHome allows the customer to select only those elements desired, thereby simplifying hardware requirements, tailoring it to the exact requirements of the user and minimising installation costs. Importantly, it is also expandable to meet evolving needs over time.

Moreover, MyHome demonstrates what can be achieved within each element of the overall solution. The audio option, for instance, is a state-of-the-art multi-source multi-zone distributed sound system called NUVO. Developed by musicians, NUVO offers extremely high quality audio streaming, as the wireless amplifiers are optimised for lossless digital signal flow to ensure every detail of the music is received and played by the high-fidelity NUVO in-ceiling speakers.

NUVO enables different audio to be enjoyed in different rooms at the same time, or—perfect for parties—it can play the same seamlessly synchronised music in every room at the same time. For versatility, the NUVO supports both wired Ethernet and wireless 802.11n configuration options, and includes use of both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands to deliver the fastest signal over the broadest coverage.

Moreover, NUVO can access virtually any gallery of music—including iTunes, Windows media libraries and content from personal devices—and streaming accessibility for services like Spotify is simplified by the NUVO Player app. Through audio inline, line-out and USB ports, NUVO is further able to connect to most storage devices, analog equipment and home-theatre receivers, as well as linking wirelessly to any Bluetooth device via the lossless aptX Bluetooth feature.

Redressing the balance

Studies have shown that music can alter our brainwaves and allow us to think in different ways, allowing us to be more creative, more focussed, more reflective, or simply more relaxed. How frequently have you been reminded of a distant memory, or inspired into activity by a song playing on the radio? Or how often has a piece of music helped you relax?

While home automation and distributed sound systems are still considered luxury features for our homes, technology has a strange way of creeping up on us: today’s technological novelty suddenly becomes tomorrow’s ‘can’t-live-without’ necessity. Just as our smart devices were once a distant taste of the future and are now an embedded part of our everyday existence, so home automation solutions like MyHome and NUVO will become as integral to our lives as our televisions, microwaves and coffee machines are today.

Of course, one of the dangers of our tendency towards ubiquitous connectedness, is that it is can be ever more difficult to disconnect, to take a break and unwind. It is often as though we are on call 24/7, unable or unwilling to unplug from the virtual world that impacts our every waking moment.

It is for this reason that certain automation solutions—such as MyHome and NUVO, which actually enhance our relaxation—become is so important; they help redress the balance, reducing the stress created by the rest of our constant-communication and incessant-Internet fuelled lives. Perhaps the lesson we need to learn is that in order to disconnect, indeed to make the most of our downtime, we actually need to be more connected.

Tags: automation, building applications, BUS, BUS/KNX solutions, electrical industry, electrical solutions, energy-saving, home automation, KNX, lighting control, lighting management system, PIR sensor, sensor