New Trending A/V Interior Design Ideas for Luxury Homes

At the Architectural Digest Home Design Show held in New York City, TRUFIG was awarded ‘Most Innovative Product’ by the ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) in their ‘Top Pick Awards 2011 Best in Show’. TRUFIG is a unique flush-mounting system for common wall accessories, such as the electrical outlet shown at the right cleverly “hidden” in the granite backsplash. Interior designers and architects love how this flush-mounting system compliments the interior design of their projects. Without TRUFIG, wall accessories such as light switches, dimmers, lighting control keypads, HVAC registers, and home automation touchscreens often had their locations dictated by where the studs were located behind the drywall; after all, this is where the wall box had to be nailed. Due to the unique TRUFIG mounting platform, these wall devices can now “float” anywhere in the stud bay, allowing precise and repeatable device alignment. No more one-off solutions trying to hide receptacles in baseboards or back-splashes!Besides flush-mounting wall accessories, there are a lot of other technologies available that allow a design-savvy audio video integrator to hide or otherwise blend audio video technologies into interior décor. Some examples: Mirror TV for Media Room

  • You can hide TV’s behind mirrors in bathrooms, bedrooms, and sometimes even media rooms. 
  • Motorized TV lifts allow TV’s to seemingly appear out of thin air. TV’s can rise from under a bed, descend from a ceiling, appear sideways out of a wall, or lower over a fireplace. It seems motorized TV applications are only limited by imagination. To see them in action, home automation touch panel flush mounted
  • Video projection screens can descend out of soffits or from hidden trapdoors in ceilings, allowing you to have a dual purpose space that cleverly hides a media room entertainment system.
  • Lighting control systems not only illuminate beautiful interior design brilliantly, but eliminate banks of unsightly light switches and dimmers.
  • Home automation touchpanels, both in-wall and handheld, consolidate control of many home subsystems (lighting, climate, security, audio/video, pool/spa, etc) into easy to use interfaces that greatly eliminate “wall acne”. No more do you have the eyesore of seeing many different, non-matching independent controls littering the walls.

As you can see, teaming up with a design-savvy audio video integrator can lead to a home with the best of modern conveniences and entertainment systems, yet have a minimal impact on the interior design.

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AudioVideo interview with Beclose President Liddy Manson

AudioVideo: Can you describe for us a typical BeClose system installation and the associated costs?

Liddy: BeClose is typically installed in a home where an older adult is living alone and would like the safety net of knowing that if something goes wrong, a family member or caregiver will find out.  We have customers at a range of stages on the health spectrum from extremely active and independent (walks 4 miles per day) to very infirm (cognitively impaired and bed ridden 90% of the time).  The advantage of the BeClose system is that it is flexible enough to provide caregiving information that is actionable regardless of the health and mobility of the resident.  Our average system costs roughly $300 for the equipment, and as little as $49 per month for the monthly service fee.

AudioVideo: Another concern we hear is about the wiring and the need for a phoneline for a system.  How has BeClose responded to those concerns?

Liddy: Unlike all other Emergency Response and Home Monitoring systems, BeClose is an entirely wireless system.  This means that residents do not need an additional phone line or broadband internet access in the home, each of which adds between $20 and $40 per month in expense.  BeClose operates using wireless technology to communicate to caregivers, and the cost for that transmission is included in the monthly fee.

AudioVideo: I know that there are easy instructional videos on the BeClose website, but can you give us a feel for whether special skills or training would be required for a home care agency to be able to plan and install a BeClose system?

Liddy: We designed BeClose to be as easy to set up as an electric clock and as easy to activate as a purchase on Amazon.com.  For those who want additional insight on where to place sensors and how to set up custom alerts, we offer a half hour free consultation session with a customer support specialist so that everyone can rest easy that the system has been installed correctly.

AudioVideo: Would BeClose enable the business model that we proposed, where a home care agency can provide a service to check-in on clients with a BeClose system (e.g., weekly or maybe daily or monthly depending on need)?

Liddy: BeClose has a number of tools that make it easy for homecare agencies to use in providing top level care to their clients.  We provide a daily summary email of each customer, so homecare workers can do a quick check-in each morning and get a sense of the state of the resident before they arrive for work.  In addition, we offer multi-view monitoring for homecare workers should they wish to log on to our system and see a snap shot of several customers at the same time.  Finally, we allow the families of the residents to send alerts to an unlimited number of care givers, giving homecare agencies the opportunity to provide families who are far from their loved ones backup support 24/7 — a new model of homecare services.

AudioVideo: Thank You, Liddy!

BeClose TeleCaregiving

DVRs and Other Set-Tops Drain Billions Annually

The Natural Resources Defense Council says that your home’s biggest energy hog could surprise you.
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June 16, 2011 | by Rachel Cericola

Your DVR, cable and/or satellite box gives you so much pleasure. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, it also asks a lot in return. The NRDC says that your home’s biggest energy hog is not the refrigerator or air conditioner; it’s actually that pesky set-top box.

The report says that users are spending approximately $1 billion a year to use those boxes. OK, that entertainment may be priceless to some. The shocking part, however, is that those set-tops use another $2 billion while inactive, but still running at near full power.

Get ready to be even more horrified. The NRDC says that the energy wasted is equivalent to the annual energy output of six coal burning power plants (500 MW). Yikes.

“Set-top boxes are the ultimate home energy vampires, silently sucking significant amounts of energy and money when nobody’s using them,” said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist at the NRDC. “The consumer, who pays the electric bill, deserves technologies without hidden costs. At a time when everyone is trying to cut waste from our budgets and electric grid, service providers shouldn’t saddle their subscribers with boxes that unnecessarily squeeze their wallets.”

The report, “Reducing the National Energy Consumption of Set-Top Boxes,” says that a new high-def box actually sucks up more energy than a new flat-panel TV.

There are approximately 160 million set-top boxes currently in U.S. homes. That’s about one box for every two Americans.

NRDC is hoping that pay-TV service providers will solve this problem with energy-efficient boxes. One possible solution would be adding some type of low power mode, which is starting to pop up on boxes in Europe. Of course, you could also ask your provider about a better box—one that meets Energy Star Version 4.0 requirements.

“We’ve improved the efficiency of all sorts of electronics—from TVs to video game consoles,” said Horowitz. “It’s just as possible to improve the efficiency of our DVRs and other pay TV boxes. But they’re not going to build a better mousetrap unless we, the consumers, demand it.”

Rachel Cericola – Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.

How to eliminate “Wall Acne”

TRUFIG flush mount HVAC registersFollowers of this blog and our website know that we are big fans of  interior design-friendly products. If you haven’t seen TRUFIG’s flush-mount products yet, visit www.trufig.com for pictures and installation videos. With TRUFIG, Audio Video can make common household fixtures like electrical outlets, lighting controls, dimmers and home automation touch screens almost disappear.

Unlike one-off attempts to hide these devices that clutter every wall, TRUFIG gives us an engineered flush-mount solution that is repeatable and adaptable to nearly any well executed interior design, be it traditional or contemporary. They even have solutions for solid surfaces like granite and marble. Now TRUFIG has turned their attention to one of the most unsightly eyesores to clutter a beautiful wall…HVAC registers!
Flush mount HVAC by TRUIG at DSI Ent Systems
TRUFIG was conceived by the founders of Sonance, an industry leader in interior design-friendly products that help integrate technology into homes in an aesthetically pleasing way. Sonance was one of the first companies to introduce in-wall and in-ceiling speakers many years ago and continues to innovate.  With that  in mind, the visionaries founded TRUFIG to apply the same beautifying treatment to common wall accessories that not only “de-uglifies” wall accessories, they actually enhance the interior décor.

The new TRUFIG HVAC registers install completely flush with the wall or ceiling. The TRUFIG aesthetic is superior to conventional HVAC registers; once you see any TRUFIG flush-mounted accessory, you will wonder why nobody thought of this before.

Currently, there are 4 different HVAC register sizes available: 8″ x 4″, 10″ x 6″, 14″ x 8″, and 12″ x 12″. There are about 27 different ‘standard’ sizes of HVAC air supplies in use today, and even more sizes than this for return air, so it will be a while HVAC flush mount kits by TRUFIGbefore all sizes have TRUFIG kits available. If you are building a new home, though, just be sure your architect and HVAC technician designs around one of the above sizes. Optionally, TRUFIG can design a custom flush-mount kit for a different size (not only for HVAC but for almost any wall-mounted accessory). If you are interested in a custom TRUFIG product, please call Audio Video at 979-268-6010.

Lutron’s Wireless Climate Control Decreases Wall Acne

Lutron is justifiably famous for their lighting control and electronic shades: now they have a new product offering up their sleeve that works well for both new construction and remodel projects. Lutron just released a new wireless climate control system (HVAC) that greatly improves on the good ol’ thermostat. Here are the main details:

  • A small wireless on-wall temperature sensor is placed where it will monitor the temperature most efficiently (2 or more can be used to average temperatures in an area). The changeable battery has a 5-year life (Lutron also includes a wired return air duct sensor is included for backup, just in case the wireless temp sensor needs a new battery).
  • Lutron’s seeTemp wall control (what we think of as the ‘thermostat’) may be ganged next to Decora light switches, dimmers, or Lutron’s own lighting control keypads (both HomeWorks and RadioRA2) to minimize wall clutter. Available in 27 different gloss and satin colors, and a Celsius version is available, too. The seeTemp control gets its power either from existing thermostat wiring, 120v AC, or 24v DC. Since the Lutron Wall Control does not have to be wired back to your heater or A/C unit, you can put these in many new and convenient places.
  • The only wired component is the ‘HVAC Controller’, which connects to your existing or new HVAC equipment…the HVAC Controller communicates wirelessly with the seeTemp wall controls and temp sensors and ties the system together. This controller device is hidden away, and mounted right next to your big HVAC unit.
  • Optional control from your Android phone, iPhone, iPad, or iPad touch both in the home and/or anywhere in the world using a $19.95 Lutron app in iTunes and the Android Market.
  • This system can be controlled from popular 3rd party home automation control systems like  AMX, Control4 and Elan.
  • Ability to set temperature schedules through the seeTemp wall control, Android, Apple apps, or through the 3rd party control systems mentioned above.
  • Works with Lutron’s wirless occupancy/vacancy sensors…select a temperature set point when a room is occupied and another when no one is around (save energy).
  • Ability to completely eliminate visible wall controls (the seeTemp) IF using your Android phone, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or the above-mentioned home automation control systems.

Lutron RadioRA2 lighting and climate control

According to www.energystar.gov, you can save up to 16% of the energy used on HVAC with temperature controls, so a ‘smart’ climate control system is worth it, both for lower energy bills and reducing your carbon footprint.

This HVAC system allows for much more flexibility & convenience than a typical thermostat system, as the wall controls may be placed where they make sense aesthetically and for ease of access. Less wall clutter!

This is an excellent new climate control system, but there are a few limitations: you can have a maximum of 2 HVAC Controllers, and each can communicate with a maximum of 5 temp sensors, so the system will accommodate 10 climate zones max. At this point, there is no humidity monitoring/control and no outdoor temperature sensor.

Integrating climate controls with home automation systems and eliminating wall clutter is not new (we’ve been doing it for years), but the exciting news is that Lutron’s new system can easily be retrofitted to existing homes and gives some of the same benefits of integrated climate control without having to invest in a full home automation system.

For greater convenience and energy savings, you should couple this climate control system with RadioRA 2 lighting controls and Sivoia motorized shades. Then, you can have a “Green” button on the keypad that dims the lights 5%, lowers the shades to block heat gain, and set back the temperature 2%. Likewise, when leaving for vacation, you can press an “Away” button that triggers lighting scene patterns that give your home an occupied look and sets back the thermostats to an energy-saving set point. Convenience and energy savings both!

YouTube Now available on your DirecTV DVR

For those of you who have DirecTV, YouTube is now available to view through your DVR.

How do you access it?  Easy…

Press ‘Menu’

Select ‘Smart Search’

Type in what you are looking for just like you would to find a program.  If you typed in “car chase”, the result of the search will yield a few options like this…

Car Chase – HD

Car Chase – YouTube

Police Car Chases – HD

If there is a YouTube match, you will see YouTube next to the search result.

Get-youtube-on-your-high-end-home-theater

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Are you ready to cut the “Cable TV Bill” cord

Internet services like Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV, Hulu, etc. allow users to stream content at little or no cost. Many of these services are available through the new Blu-Ray DVD players and internet ready TVs.Until recently we’ve had to get our TV content from Cable (Comcast, AT&T, DIRECTV, Dish Network). For the most part these services all provide the same content at essentially the same price. .

The major service providers still have an advantage for live sports and many shows are not available online or may have waiting periods before they are posted.

All this new content has appealed primarily to the younger generations, as we have had years of training on channel surfing and traditional access to media via our remote control. But some of us older folks are looking for ways to “cut the cord” and free ourselves from $100 or more monthly bills.

What is your opinion of the alternate service providers?

The skinny on 3D TV

The industry is very keen on 3D being a total TV revolution. They are hopeful that it will be as big as the HDTV revolution.

A recent trade magazine article stated “3D is alive and well…” the author’s reasoning is that although sales are way below targets, the manufacturers are still investing heavily in the technology. In my opinion, hopeful manufacturers does not signify buy in from the market.

We are selling a lot of 3D TVs, and here is why: most top models from the major manufacturers are 3D capable. Since many of our customers are interested in the best picture quality, we sell them TVs that include 3D capability.

In summary, at this point I think 3D is still a novelty, but only time will tell.

A few downfalls to 3D are:

  • Glasses are annoying
  • Very little content available
  • Some consumers find 3D nauseating
  • Even on a 65″ TV the screen size is too small for 3D to have a dramatic effect

I have seen the demo broadcasts of sports in 3D and in my opinion, they have a long way to go.

Tron: Legacy now available in Blu-ray 3D

For the most part, the five discs in the Tron: Legacy box and their associated features are impressive, if predictable. Both films look fantastic, and each comes with a bevy of behind-the-scenes information, commentaries and other innovative features.

Tron-5discs-combo-250px

One film was meant to break new ground, and became celebrated for its concept. The other took that concept and gave it a fresh look (and notably, an incredible soundtrack from Daft Punk). Instead of breaking new ground, “Tron: Legacy” became a popcorn film, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

Our new product, TRUFIG eliminates “Wall Acne”

TRUFIG flush mount HVAC registersFollowers of this blog and our website know that we are big fans of  interior design-friendly products. If you haven’t seen TRUFIG’s flush-mount products yet, visit www.trufig.com for pictures and installation videos. With TRUFIG, Audio Video can make common household fixtures like electrical outlets, lighting controls, dimmers and home automation touch screens almost disappear.

Unlike one-off attempts to hide these devices that clutter every wall, TRUFIG gives us an engineered flush-mount solution that is repeatable and adaptable to nearly any well executed interior design, be it traditional or contemporary. They even have solutions for solid surfaces like granite and marble. Now TRUFIG has turned their attention to one of the most unsightly eyesores to clutter a beautiful wall…HVAC registers!
Flush mount HVAC by TRUIG at DSI Ent Systems
TRUFIG was conceived by the founders of Sonance, an industry leader in interior design-friendly products that help integrate technology into homes in an aesthetically pleasing way. Sonance was one of the first companies to introduce in-wall and in-ceiling speakers many years ago and continues to innovate.  With that  in mind, the visionaries founded TRUFIG to apply the same beautifying treatment to common wall accessories that not only “de-uglifies” wall accessories, they actually enhance the interior décor.

The new TRUFIG HVAC registers install completely flush with the wall or ceiling. The TRUFIG aesthetic is superior to conventional HVAC registers; once you see any TRUFIG flush-mounted accessory, you will wonder why nobody thought of this before.

Currently, there are 4 different HVAC register sizes available: 8″ x 4″, 10″ x 6″, 14″ x 8″, and 12″ x 12″. There are about 27 different ‘standard’ sizes of HVAC air supplies in use today, and even more sizes than this for return air, so it will be a while HVAC flush mount kits by TRUFIGbefore all sizes have TRUFIG kits available. If you are building a new home, though, just be sure your architect and HVAC technician designs around one of the above sizes. Optionally, TRUFIG can design a custom flush-mount kit for a different size (not only for HVAC but for almost any wall-mounted accessory). If you are interested in a custom TRUFIG product, please call Audio Video at 979-268-6010.