Monday, June 27, 2016

It is EVERYWHERE, Technology, that is!

Wow! Every month there are new technological products! We love the convenience of being connected! Recently the addition of information about the newest technology trends popping up in home construction reminds me we have hit another level of development! Technology is here to stay! The rapidity and expansion into new uses is rushing us into the point of no return!

Our front doors literally hold the key to our fortress and security. Let's begin there with Electronic Entry Systems. Their moment has come! Rapid innovation is eclipsing traditional ways we enter our castles. North America is leading the charge with the use of  fobs similar to those we unlock our cars with.  Developments of "Smart Locks" allow us to leave our traditional keys in our pocket as we approach our front door. An app on our phone, a digital numerical entry code, or the fob will now automatically unlock the door as we walk towards it. No more fumbling with our keys!

Who does this? In 2014 North America reported a staggering growth with installations of Smart Home Entry Systems increasing 75% over previous years. The applications extend to being able to monitor your door's use from the web and a new way to allow access to realtors or guests who need access to your house. Perhaps the need to make duplicate keys will pass us by.

Smart locks are one of the top new developments in the building industry. It's popularity is due to the simplicity and peace of mind a homeowner experiences while away from home. How convenient and
reassuring to be able to lock your door while away from home, whether from a computer or your smart phone!

As always, positive and negative results are showing up as we depend more and more on our phones and tablets connecting us to every possible application faster than ever. We are carrying a small computer in our hand much more powerful than the desk top models that introduced us to technology.

Other important home security needs can be controlled from our phones remotely. We can monitor our pets, children, the rooms in our homes with all our belongings in them.  It does make life simpler. We do not need to drive home to check and be sure we locked our door or left the stove or our lights on etc.

Appliances you can control remotely are all the rage now. Stoves exist that you can program for dual purposes. They will keep your dinner cool in the oven until you remotely turn on the oven to cook your dinner while at work. Botta Bing Botta Boom.......a hot homemade meal ready for you as soon as you walk in your door! Now, THAT is cool! Or should I say, that is hot!

Are you at the grocery store and realize you forgot your grocery list? No problem! Purchase a "connected refrigerator" like the Samsung  Family Hub model with cameras inside. You can access them from your cell phone to see what you are out of , all while walking down the grocery store aisle!

The convenience factor is driving sales of these Smart products. People love turning their appliance on and off remotely. The oven can even text you when your dinner is cooked so your can turn it off at the perfect time. You can set the warmer to keep your dinner warm as you drive home!

Kitchens and bath product engineers, designers, and manufacturers are creating lighting, appliances, heated flooring, thermostats, doors, and window coverings that can be turned on or off, adjusted, opened or closed remotely with our phones or tablets.  

Do you enjoy impressing others? Well, if you are a great cook, buying a cooking appliance with this kind of technology will launch you to the "spectacular " level in your friends eyes. Hey, you will be considered a "great cook" even if your cooking skills have never been that good before. What a deal!

There is always a little down side to technology. However, the manufacturers are constantly developing ways to conquer them. I appreciate organization and beauty in a home. Technology used to mean numerous cords connecting to electricity initially.  However, wireless technology has changed the game! As a designer, I hate cords "everywhere"! If you still use tablets and phones requiring a cord , ugly and messy are the only applicable words to describe massive tangles these  same cords create, connected to all your devices. Are you tired of multiple phones, tablets, and other electrical devices being lined up on your kitchen counter, nightstand, or desk to charge?

What is the answer if you still have to plug your "assistant's in to charge them? Cabinet makers have solutions. They are called docking drawers. The great news! You can charge all your devices out of sight! The electrical outlets are designed inside the cabinet drawers. A full array of creative options including movable outlets fit into any drawer. These can be installed almost anywhere. Finally , the days of that rat's nest of cords are no longer necessary! NOW, there are even counter tops you can install that will charge your wireless devices !  Just leave your cell phone sitting on it to be sure it is all charged and ready to go the next time you need it.

Is your mind whirling? Get ready , we have more new technology to talk about in future posts!

Friday, June 17, 2016

LED Lighting for Your World

New lighting technology is changing our environments while saving energy. It has shifted entire categories and created new ones. The smaller LEDs are designed, the more creative their applications! The tiny computers, called cell phones, allow us to control the technology in our homes off site! We have become so accustomed to this convenience now. I think it is becoming easy to forget how recently none of this existed. As technology expands “ the sky if the limit “ literally. The Cloud holds everything needed to make our lives manageable in the most amazing ways!

As our Digital world expands the possibilities seem endless! The trend developing is exploding
LEDs” popularity due to it's connectivity! They continue to drive forward style options, energy efficiency, and controlling home and our office lighting on our mobile devices. It is common now to control our lighting from our cell phones and tablets. How convenient is that? With this technology even the old “light switch” is giving room to new options. WiFi connectivity and off sight connections are creating off site options never available until now. A new trend tied into the new popularity of LED lighting is connectivity. Smart phone owners enjoy the convenience of controlling the lighting in their home remotely on their mobile devices. Far beyond the rocker switch we have all used to decades, new ways of controlling speakers and even charging phones and tablets by setting them in under cabinet charging cradles is being developed. WiFi capability is on target for future cabinet accessories too. 

Kitchens may be the most challenging room in a home to light effectively. The need for various types of lighting is challenging. The old way of walking in to the kitchen, switching on the one ceiling light fixture in the center of the room is gone. The 1990's introduced the excellent feature of under cabinet lighting. The innovation of 3 to 4 inch “puck” lights changed how we approached food preparation.

Being able to dim them after dark for ambiance and a soft nightlight for midnight snacking became standard design immediately. When LED came on the scene, this technology exploded. Lighting the entire counter evenly using very little electricity is the norm now. Gone is the need for dimmers, expensive wiring and multiple electrical outlets. As these lights have become smaller and less visible the impossible seems to have been the result. The illumination has increased to excellent standards not available even five years ago. Smaller drivers for the LEDs mean more compact fixtures they can fit into. This technology allows what used to be a minimum of six inch rounds to as small as only two inches in diameter. The edge trim on these new innovations can be plastered flush with the ceiling, making them virtually invisible! It is expected the new applications for LEDs  will ultimately replace traditional light sources! Amazing! Like all other categories of technology, LED lighting becomes more affordable as the popularity grows. The more widely utilized and available, the lower the cost becomes.  

Kitchens are always the most multifunctional room in any home. It serves as an office, a place to do homework, cooking, preparing food for cooking, entertaining, and just general family connectedness. 
Balancing the lighting to meet each of these required needs is becoming a new genre of engineering.
It is truly amazing how much everything has changed in lighting.

As I research new trends, I find myself continually amazed at all the new inventions and applications to make our lives more organized, stress free, and efficient. Keep coming back. You never know what new information all this discovery will give me to share with you!