Z-Tip #12

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Remodel for Home Automation

Home automation is becoming more and more popular as it simplifies our lives, provides security, enables us to keep an eye on our loved ones, saves on electricity usage, and provides optimal atmospheres for current occasions.

A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University states that 36% of remodelers predict home automation as becoming the No. 2 trend in the next 5-10 years, just slightly behind the 40% who see energy-efficient products and construction as No. 1.

With smart technology becoming more accessible and affordable, it’s no wonder that this trend could snowball.

What does this mean for you?

With the increased amount of products available you’ll have more choices than ever, and since prices are dropping, most people will be able to find solutions that benefit their needs and budgets alike.

Installation of home automation systems is becoming easier, so whether your home is built or currently in construction, looking to automate it could be a good decision.

Honda Fit Home


Could the car industry lead the future of home building?

Companies like Honda think so. Currently, Honda has a prototype smart home that works with our cars as part of the energy infrastructure.

The home features:

  • Low Carbon slab
  • Radiant geothermal heating and cooling
  • Rain garden
  • Xeriscaping
  • Passive solar design
  • Sustainable FSC-Certified lumber
  • Adaptive circadian lighting
  • Honda Fit EV with direct solar charging
  • Stationary energy storage
  • Honda smart home app

Using solar panels and storage batteries, the home built in California, hopes to reduce the demand on electricity companies by becoming a zero-net energy home. This would mean that the home generates more energy from onsite renewable energy than it takes in from the electric company’s grid.

The home’s 9.5-kilowat solar array generates enough energy to power the home and charge its Honda Fit electric vehicle. Using DC current instead of AC current, the home is able to reduce waste from converting the energy as it charges the vehicle.

Honda’s home also has an energy management system which will reduce the home’s energy demand as needed, and can even supply power back to the grid.

The construction of the home uses a compacted low carbon slab, and excludes the use of products that produce volatile organic compounds which produce indoor air pollutants in order to promote a healthier lifestyle.

This means that Honda’s home produces less CO2 than average homes, helps to keep our natural circadian patterns, saves money on electricity, and keeps your home feeling healthy and comfortable all year round.

Honda isn’t the only car manufacturer to do this however. Ford and Tesla have also joined in on the notion of sustainable lifestyles. Ford begun by building a show home that incorporates its cars and a few green features, and Tesla has started selling batteries for both home use and for their vehicles.

So, although it may just be an idea with only a few prototypes out there, this could very well be the future of our home development and the need to produce more green environments.

Links of the Week #10



You’re deep asleep in your home when an intruder breaks in. You don’t want to risk giving away your position, and are in imminent danger.

Sure a security alarm would be helpful, but you haven’t gotten around to installing one yet. Before, your only option was to call 911, but now – as of May 15, 2014 – you will be able to text 911 in order to get assistance (in cities that support it).

This feature has been available since 2011 through a handful of markets, but it will soon be live on America’s four largest carriers – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile – and available wherever you are in their network range.

911 insists that this Text-to-911 feature isn’t meant to replace emergency calls, and that if you can make a voice call it would be best.

If, for some reason, your text does not go through due to your local call center not being equipped to receive texts or your mobile carrier does not support the text function, you will receive a bounce back notification alerting you.

Go to the FCC’s website for more information on this new feature, and to see if your area supports it.




For years we’ve all joked about Smell-O-Vision, and how great - or horrible - it could be depending on the broadcast we’re watching.

A product named oPhone, which will work with your iPhone, could revolutionize the future of how we interact with media. Using the company’s oSnap application the user could create an oNote, which is a scented message, and attach a unique smell based on the content.

Currently the app contains 32 separate scents, and the user will be able to customize each message by combining up to 8 smells at a time. That would give each user the ability to come up with 300,000 different smells. Prepare to have your senses bombarded!

Although this product is just in development and will not be available until next year, one can’t help but wonder what doorways this will open up in the future.

Instead of just seeing an image of the recipe we’re drooling over on our televisions, we may just get the chance to smell it as well.

For more information on this product, go to Digital Trend's website.

Z-Tip #11

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Internet of Caring Things

It’s no secret that human beings care about their family, friends and themselves. So, why not invest in smart products that can do the same?

Physical health, mental wellbeing, safety and security, and a connection to those we care about top most individual’s priorities. Adding in technology that can help us achieve these goals makes sense.

“Internet of Caring Things” are being developed and produced by more and more companies, and they can go beyond what we’ve ever expected.

Due to more cost-effective and efficient wireless chips, a rise in cloud storage usage, improved geo-location, and a massive adoption of crowdfunding sites, these caring devices are more in demand than ever.

The plethora of gadgets coming available is making it easier to tailor them to your specific needs. Be sure to educate yourself on each product and make an informed decision. If the device(s) seek to interact with your current home automation upgrades, speak with your integration company first so that its introduction is seamless.

Visit Trend Watching’s website if you’d like to see examples of some of these caring devices.

TV - 4K On the Way: Part 3 of 3

sound options

Great picture… where’s the sound?

Now that we’ve talked about 4K and the future of content, let’s talk sound quality.

Sound coming from today’s televisions lacks the ability to engulf us in the world we’re watching on screen.

With old-school televisions of years past (cathode ray tube or CRTs), it was easy to hide large speakers inside that produced deep and commanding sound. As televisions have gotten smaller, most around an inch or less in thickness, sound quality has diminished greatly.

Our current TV speakers are very thin and are being placed wherever the manufacturers can find room, usually pointing down or away from you.

Why is this important to know? When you watch your favorite show, do you have to keep hitting rewind on your DVR, or do you find yourself asking the people around you what was said?

Without the ability to produce the highs and lows from quality speakers, you lose the ability to hear dialogue clearly and your cinematic experience will fall flat on the floor.

Exterior speakers can come to the rescue!

There are four main kinds of speakers that can help:
  • Sound bars – Can be a versatile, and affordable item if you’re looking to not run wires in and around your entire room for a surround sound system. Some models feature faux-surround sound just from one sound bar, thus giving you superior sound without the hassle.
  • In-Ceiling/In-Wall Speakers - For those with extreme cinematic needs, surround systems featuring these speakers are a better way to go. They can deliver better treble and bass thus engulfing you in a lifelike scenario. These systems will require wiring and installing speakers in to your ceiling or walls, so they are best put in before the walls and ceilings are finished. For those not afraid of some home improvements and dust, you can always install them at any time.
  • Tower speakers - Tower speakers, floor standing speakers, are aptly named because they stand on the floor, and may deliver the performance you desire. Some brands even offer wireless options allowing you to place them wherever you need sound.
  • Book shelf speakers – Are generally smaller box speakers that can be placed nearly on any entertainment center or shelf (hence the name), and they offer a great amount of sound. These as well can be purchased wireless, allowing you to set them anywhere in the room.

The best part is that any of these speakers can be used as stand-alone options, or you can combine them depending on your needs.

Manufacturers are currently trying to produce televisions sets with high quality sound, but the technology just isn’t there yet. So, no matter what kind of 4K television you purchase, it would be a good idea to include speakers in to your budget.

You’ve got the look of a cinema, so why not have the sound to match?

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