There are multiple ways to approach a Smart Home & AV system design. Over the years, methodology has changed with the invention of new technology. The launch of the “control system” concept originally focused on the end-user interacting regularly with the system by using a wall mounted touch panel or, more recently, logging into the control system from a smart device and issuing commands. Unfortunately, making the various pieces of technology accessible under one app or user interface created a system that became cumbersome for many to use. This defeated the very reason these systems were designed- to make life easier. As we have evolved as a technology savvy society, we are becoming more comfortable with the concept of a smart home system which affords the question: What makes a smart home truly smart?
Mozaic AV has spent the last few years focused on that very question. After diligent research, client meetings, feedback, pilot programs and system testing, our team concluded that there are four tiers of smart home control:
Tier One- No interaction with the user interface - some things like outdoor lights, shades and thermostat run "auto-magically”
Tier Two- What we term as Soft interaction - which includes simple voice commands that are not specific. For example, “play music”, “turn on lights”, “dim the lights or it's hot/cold”.
Tier Three - Direct interaction - either using quick button presses on keypads for scenes like good night, good morning, entertain, movie night etc), or Or direct voice commands such as, “play THIS song” or “set the temp to 72 degrees”. These simple presses or voice commands should control multiple devices conveniently and easily
Tier Four- Direct Control through a user interface (touch panel, iPhone or Mobile device etc.)
During our research we discovered most AV or smart technology companies are designing systems with the primary focus on Tier 4 and work their way backwards. In this mindset, little to no attention is paid to each level of control and how it is actually used by the homeowner.
At Mozaic AV, we considered this to be counterproductive, resulting in a system that was more difficult and complicated to use. We felt the best approach in creating a smart home is creating an environment where the house learns the user, not the other way around. We feel that a truly smart home is programmed to the patterns of the homeowners so that things like lighting scenes, shade adjustments and thermostat shifts occur automatically at certain times during the day and night. Most of our customers are not interested in logging into the system and making minute adjustments on a regular basis, or being a slave to a complex control interface that requires their constant interaction. They just want things to occur in the background following their natural patterns while at home. We are all creatures of habit and a home that works in harmony with those patterns is the key. That is the magic of a truly smart home!
Mozaic’s unique approach to smart home design starts with a Tier One system and works down each tier, carefully considering its capabilities and the client’s interests. Our focus is creating a smart home and smart system, not a control system, that is personal to each customer. Of course, for those that want to interact directly with their control system, we offer solutions that have seamless control and user interfaces for making those adjustments. However, we are finding that many clients who originally “thought” they wanted that level of control are instead finding themselves much happier with simpler integrated controls and solutions.
Josh.ai is at the center of this transition. Josh is a voice-controlled home automation system similar to Alexa and Google but with several significant differences. First, it is privacy-based and does not collect or utilize your data for commercial purposes. You only have to watch the recent news to see what “Big Tech” companies are doing with your data. Google, Amazon etc. are not home control systems. They are data collecting devices. Josh was built from the ground up with one purpose- simple and elegant home control. Secondly, unlike Alexa and Google Home, Josh uses natural language processing which means Josh is more adept at reacting to how we speak. Josh is also capable of handling multiple commands. For example, a client may say - “Hey Josh, turn on the lights, raise the shades and play David Bowie” and Josh will oblige. Or one homeowner may call a particular room the “living room” while another may refer to it as the “family Room”- all easily adapted through a Josh AI system with proper set up
This new platform works hand-in-hand with closed control systems like Control4, Sonos or Lutron, enhancing the experience while leaving their deeper control capabilities in tact. Personalized key panels add the third tier of control in convenient locations around the house where they are used most often. For instance, a button labeled “Dim” will set a night time scene in your living room controlled with a simple button press at the light switch.
Our clients are raving about this new direction of smart home living. This approach has completely changed the perception of having technology in the home, and clients are utilizing the conveniences of tiered control system design more than they ever used their systems before. With the increasing complexity of modern day living, the old adage is true. Less really is more!