Designing the brain of the Home of the Future with Grant Imahara

7 min read
Transcript 0:00 (upbeat music) 0:01 – Getting smart home technology 0:02 for a home of...

Transcript

0:00
(upbeat music)
0:01
– Getting smart home technology
0:02
for a home of the future has never been easier.
0:05
There are smart versions of just about every household item.
0:09
Smart lights, smart speakers, even a smart refrigerator.
0:14
But connecting them all together
0:15
to make a truly smarter home can be a nightmare.
0:19
So how do we connect the home of the future?
0:22
Well, you need a serious brain, like this thing.
0:25
And to integrate it, requires some serious brain power.
0:34
Pete Sandford is the owner of Smarter Homes,
0:37
a company that helps to customize and maintain
0:40
home automation systems.
0:42
He’s what’s known as an integrator,
0:44
and his role is to bring all the smart devices
0:47
of the home together,
0:49
which is essential for the home of the future
0:51
we’re building here in Austin, Texas.
0:54
‘Cause we’ve got a truckload
0:55
of cutting edge technology to install.
0:57
– This is probably 25% of what’s gonna come
1:00
and make the home of the future.
1:02
– You’re kidding me.
1:03
The home of the future has a lot of stuff in it.
1:05
– [Pete] Yeah, takes a lot of parts and pieces
1:07
and everything’s gotta speak the same language.
1:10
– [Grant] Wow, that’s a lotta languages.
1:12
– [Pete] Oh yeah.
1:13
– [Grant] Someday these devices might be fluent
1:16
right out of the box.
1:17
But for now, we need an integrator like Pete
1:20
to give the different dialects universal language.
1:23
And even a tech savvy guy like me
1:25
who’s more than capable of installing his own smart devices
1:29
would have his hands full trying to unify everything.
1:34
Over the next month or so,
1:35
Pete and his team will work to wire the home
1:38
to handle all the smart technology we’re packing into it.
1:41
Now maybe you’re thinking,
1:42
“Wires? Shouldn’t our future be more wireless?”
1:47
While there’s some promising developments in wireless power,
1:50
we’re still years away from having
1:52
anything reliable enough to even consider installing
1:56
in our home.
1:57
So instead, for Pete and his team,
1:59
their goal is to make these wires invisible.
2:05
So, Peter this is the moment of truth.
2:07
I mean, last time I was here,
2:10
this was just a hole in the wall
2:12
with a bunch of wires coming out of it
2:14
and now we have the super computer brain of our house.
2:17
I mean, when I think of a super computer,
2:19
I think of War Games and the whopper computer
2:22
the (making whirring sound)
2:23
But, this is gorgeous.
2:25
What’s inside here?
2:26
– Everything.
2:28
This is as good as it gets
2:29
when we’re talking smart home technology.
2:31
So, here we’ve got our two Sonos players
2:35
for feeding the indoor and outdoor audio,
2:37
our Wattbox, which is acting as a cutoff
2:41
for power to each individual piece of equipment.
2:43
We’ve got our Luxul switch which is feeding network
2:46
to all the individual pieces of components.
2:48
We’ve also got our AT&T modem.
2:51
That’s feeding the internet from the street
2:53
into our system here and then out throughout the house.
2:56
Our Denon surround sound receiver
2:58
which is handling all the surround sound
3:00
in this room and the video and audio in the next room.
3:03
We’ve got our Lutron communicator
3:05
which is wirelessly communicating
3:07
with all the light switches.
3:08
Our two Roku players for both this room and the bedroom.
3:12
Our amplifier here which is powering
3:15
all the landscape speakers and subterraneal subwoofer.
3:18
We’ve got our PlayStation 4 for gaming,
3:21
and finally, probably the most important part in here
3:24
is the brain which is the RTI XP-8 processor.
3:27
And this really helps us bring all of these
3:29
individual items together and integrate them
3:32
onto one easy-to-use interface.
3:34
– So you don’t have a million remotes.
3:35
– Yeah, or a million apps.
3:36
(laughs)
3:38
– That RTI system that Pete mentioned,
3:41
you can think of it as the operating system
3:42
for the entire house.
3:44
And it’s highly customizable based on the user’s needs.
3:48
So this is the whole interface for everything
3:51
that’s in that rack?
3:52
– Yup. This is Remote Technologies, Inc.,
3:55
sitting with us is Matt, he is our wizard,
3:57
or RTI programmer.
3:59
And he’s the one who makes the system easy to use
4:01
and function organically with a family.
4:04
– So through this interface you’re controlling everything
4:06
in the house of the future?
4:08
– Pretty much everything.
4:09
Some devices don’t connect into automation systems,
4:12
they might have a closed or a partially closed API.
4:15
– [Grant] API or application programming interface
4:18
is the key part of how you integrate products into the home.
4:22
Devices with very open APIs allow us
4:25
to integrate their controls in a deep way
4:27
with the home system.
4:29
Whereas devices with closed APIs block our ability
4:32
to link their features with the rest of the home.
4:35
For example, our Nest security camera on the front door
4:38
has a closed API,
4:40
so we couldn’t get that camera feed
4:42
into the RTI system.
4:44
In contrast, the IP cameras around the home
4:47
are completely able to be integrated with RTI,
4:50
which allows us to pull up a feed
4:52
of what’s going on around the home
4:54
directly from the RTI system.
4:59
– So, this is the dashboard for the entire home.
5:02
Got our controls and activities for the living room,
5:04
our patio audio,
5:06
our nest climate control for the whole house.
5:09
Normally, in most systems,
5:11
you’ll just see it’ll say Apple TV.
5:13
Here we’ve dialed it in to specific apps.
5:16
So I know I watch Netflix, I watch Hulu,
5:19
everything that needs to happen to watch Netflix then
5:22
happens at the push of that one button
5:23
without navigating anything.
5:25
– Okay, so let’s say I got a new gaming system,
5:29
I see you’ve got a PS4, what if I got an XBox.
5:32
– [Pete] We could just grab in an XBox icon,
5:34
and then program it to where it’ll switch
5:36
to that gaming input for the Xbox
5:38
just at the single push of a button.
5:41
– [Grant] RTI is also able to plug into Alexa,
5:44
which opens up the entire system to voice control.
5:47
However it introduces an extra step.
5:49
Instead of saying, “Alexa, turn on Netflix.”,
5:52
I’ll have to say,
5:53
“Alexa, tell Home Butler to turn on Netflix.”
5:58
So, a little more awkward and frustrating
6:00
if you forget, but soon we’re told
6:02
that the system will be upgraded to avoid
6:04
having to do this additional step.
6:07
– But that’s kinda the easy side of the programming.
6:09
Matt gets us into more of the advanced side,
6:11
where you’ll have shortcuts, you know,
6:14
for things that you do everyday.
6:15
So like Good Morning or Good Night or Welcome Home or Away.
6:19
– So show me what Welcome Home does.
6:22
– So come in here, open up that function.
6:24
You’ll see right now we’ve got that programmed
6:26
to set the living room to Netflix,
6:28
playing some music in the landscape,
6:30
we’re altering the thermostat temperature to 70,
6:33
and then we’ll turn on some lights in the kitchen,
6:35
the living room.
6:36
But only if it’s dark,
6:37
so if you’re coming home in the day,
6:39
the rest of the functions will still happen,
6:40
but the lights will stay off to conserve energy.
6:43
– And that level of house wide control of our devices
6:46
is really the strength in a system like RTI.
6:49
The ability to string together so many devices
6:52
to function as one home is the goal
6:54
of the home of the future.
6:56
The downside to this smart integration?
6:58
Well, besides the up front fees,
7:01
there’s a $30 monthly service charge for tech support,
7:04
and a twice a year visit from a programmer
7:06
to make any changes.
7:08
So Matt I’m looking at this,
7:09
and I’m getting really excited ’cause I’m an engineer.
7:12
Is this something that I could take this software
7:15
and run with it myself?
7:16
– No, the end user doesn’t actually typically
7:19
program the system, we do that just for the sake
7:22
that we can make sure we get everything in the right order.
7:25
– So you’re saying no to prevent me
7:27
from being a danger to myself.
7:29
– Correct.
7:31
– And while it would take a lot of work
7:33
to attempt this kind of high-level integration ourselves,
7:36
a low-cost workaround is to use only smart devices
7:40
that already speak the same language.
7:42
For example, if you got Google Home, Chromecast,
7:46
and Hue lights, you could probably get most
7:48
of the features that we have in our home
7:50
for under 200 bucks.
7:54
But for the home of the future,
7:55
having a bunch of smart devices alone isn’t good enough.
7:59
All this technology needs to function together seamlessly.
8:03
– My job as the integrator is to take all of these things
8:06
and make them all communicate together on one system
8:09
that’s easy to use.
8:11
– Might not be all the way there yet,
8:13
but we’re closer than ever.
8:15
For now, our home of the future is as unified as it gets,
8:19
making life more convenient and enjoyable
8:22
with the push of a button.
8:27
Thank you so much for watching.
8:28
Now that you know what it takes
8:30
to connect the devices inside of our home of the future,
8:32
how do you integrate the devices inside of your home?
8:36
Let us know in the comments below
8:37
and we’ll see you next week with a new episode.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *