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Smart home technology puts control in owners hands

Article by Samantha Healy – Featured in Courier Mail and

Queenslanders are embracing “smart” technology, with homeowners installing everything from intuitive lighting to fully-equipped media rooms and state-of-the-art security – all controlled by discreet systems.

For the Higgins family, it meant a complete redesign of their Norman Park home, with local interior designer Anna Spiro and Brisbane firm, Electronic Living, taking care of the remodel.

“We had the whole place renovated over a 12-month period, but we really do have the home of our dreams now,” obstetrician Dr Shane Higgins said.

Electronic Living managing director Damian Cavanagh said the uptake in smart home technology had reached “peak demand”, with consumers beginning to grasp the benefits of an automated home. One client spent well over $1 million fitting out their home, he said.

That fitout included smart wiring, an IT network, security and CCTV surveillance, lighting and energy controls, solar and battery storage, a home cinema, a panic room, 14 video zones, 23 audio zones, an outdoor cinema, automated blinds and window coverings, climate control and air monitoring, and voice activation systems.

“This market shift is largely due to the fact that the average Australian household now has 14 connected devices, and by 2020 that number is set to double,” Mr Cavanagh said. “In fact, there are more connected devices in the world than people. With all these connected devices, and rapid advances in technology, our homes are on the brink of an epic digital revolution of monumental proportions.”

Among the benefits, Mr Cavanagh says, is the time saved on normal day-to-day tasks, with everything from closing the blinds and switching off electronics, to setting the alarm or airconditioner capable of being automated.

He said the smart home technology leant itself to new builds, but there were plenty of clients – like the Higgins family – retrofitting existing homes.

And developers are also jumping on board. South City Square, by joint venturers Pellicano and Perri Projects, is just one Brisbane development embracing smart technology.

“The interesting thing is that the large majority of smart home adopters are not necessarily “tech savvy”, which in essence is why they are drawn to the appeal of the simplicity a smart home,” he said.

In the Higgins’ home, which includes Ciara Higgins, the family’s “exceptional personal manager”, and daughters, Roisin, 27, an audiologist, and Bridget, 25, a lawyer, the technology has changed many facets of their busy lives.

“The alarm, CCTV, locks, media, shades, irrigation – it’s all automated now,” Dr Higgins said. “If we want the house to do anything, we can just turn it on or off via an iPhone.

“If we are at the airport, Ciara can even check the iron is off and switch off the iron socket from her phone.”

Mr Cavanagh said by far the most popular request was for entertainment systems, with many of the existing streaming services and “wearables” capable of becoming complete control centres.

Since having the technology installed, the Higgins’ family are still learning about its abilities.

They plan to get voice activation systems and Google Home fitted next year.

“I don’t think our girls are ever going to move out,” Dr Higgins laughed.

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