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Screens glide away, the fire lights, soft music begins to play and outside, the water feature springs into life – white magic? No, responsive home automation

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In a competitive world, astute developers will always look for a point of difference. Customised layouts, energy efficiency and other expected client advantages now have another winning attribute ranking alongside them – comprehensive home automation built into the bones of the residence.

For the houses appearing on these pages, developer Parkside Properties asked Tyro Home Entertainment Systems to install home automation systems that would benefit their clients' lifestyles. Owner Stephen Tyro says the Control 4 full-home system specified has a degree of interactivity that means a client never needs to leave the couch.

"The Control 4 system gives the homeowner fingertip control over every electronic convenience in the house," says Tyro. "It can be operated by a wall pad screen, or, as an extension of this, via a hand-held remote."

This might include playing music, watching TV, surfing the net, opening blinds, turning on the water feature outside, or bringing up the front gate security camera on the living room 42-inch LCD.

"As well as using the wall touch pad, or pushing buttons on the remote, a dedicated remote button can turn your television into a giant version of the wall panel," he says.


"This makes navigating the entire range of options as simple as using four cursor buttons."

The system is user friendly in other ways, too. Control 4 allows for multiple lighting and music themes. The owner can personalise these to create, for example, an entertaining theme, where music plays and garden lights glow, or a holiday theme. The latter simulates occupancy by controlling music and lighting, to act as a burglar deterrent.

"In the past, customising themes was the prerogative of the home automation vendor, but with Control 4, this has changed," says Tyro. "Lighting scenarios can now be programmed and reprogrammed easily by the owner – without the hassle, or attendant costs of a call out to a technician. Where expert technical input is required, much of this can be done remotely, via the internet."

The Control 4's internet connectivity also means the owner can access the system remotely – sliding back an automated pool cover at their home from a laptop on the other side of the world.

"The system is installed at building stage but can be retrofitted as needed," says Tyro. "Here, Control 4 is teamed with a Zigby wireless mesh network that piggybacks to the nearest circuit point for more reliable remote connectivity in larger homes."

First published date: 26 May 2008

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Credit List

Developer Parkside Properties
Audio visual supplier Tyro Home Entertainment Systems (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Dedicated theatre room designer Soundline
Dedicated theatre projector Infocus
Dedicated theatre speakers Triad
DVD player, processor, tuner, receiver Marantz
Televisions Panasonic
Screen Screentechnics
Home automation, electronic controller, music server Control 4 from Tyro Home Entertainment Systems
Subwoofer Velodyne
Multi-room speakers Niles Story by Charles Moxham Photography by Jamie Cobeldick