Searching for those favorite family recipes just got easier. GE recently launched the Appliance Kitchen Hub as its answer to a Smart Home ventilation system. The system features an LED lit, four speed adjustable 600 CFM vent system with an air curtain to protect the screen and cameras. Located above the stove or cooktop, this 27” smart screen can access grandma, her recipes, and many other exciting features.
New & Next
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” asks Snow White’s evil stepmother. Today, we can have our own magic mirror.
Kohler is proud to announce a new addition to their Smart Home product line! The Verdera voice lighted mirror is first on the market with Smart Home features. This new mirror adds excitement and pizzazz to mundane bathroom chores.
- Smart: set up, control, and personalize on Kohler Konnect app
- Ask Amazon Alexa: adjust lighting, play music, hear the news, get traffic updates, state weather, tell a joke, add items to shopping list,and control other smart home devices
- Optimum lighting: LED, bright, natural, shadow less, task, motion-sensing nightlight, and dimmable
- Voice controlled: hands-free, fully adjustable stereo, and optional manual override
- Three available sizes
While well-designed outdoor spaces continue to gain in popularity, more and more people are choosing composite decking because of its low maintenance and its latest advancements in material and accessories. Composite decking is made of equal parts of wood fiber and recycled plastic mixed with pigments, ultraviolet inhibitors, and borate preservatives.
Today’s options offer less fading, staining, or breeding of mold and mildew than a few years ago. Multiple brands, numerous colors and beautiful exotic hardwood looks as well as textured surfaces give consumers many more design options. Some ideas include colorful borders and fun shapes like a sunrise pattern.
A prime benefit of composite decking is a lack of need to stain, paint, or seal like wood decking. The only maintenance required of composite decking is to clean off dirt and debris. Most manufacturers offer matching railing systems and accessories.
Disadvantages include being more expensive than wood decking, a slippery surface if there is no texture, and a sizzling hot feel with darker colored planks. Prices range from $1.50 to $5.50 per linear foot.
If considering a new deck this year, check out what’s available in composite decking. Be sure to contact your local building department for requirements, such as architectural standards and if the material is approved for use in your city. Also, ask for the “Evaluation Service Report,” ESR, that is required of each manufacturer showing test results for moisture absorption, abrasion resistance, fastener spacing, allowable spans, stresses, etc.
DRONES IN ARCHITECTURE
Photo credits: Katherin Frankovic, KDE Photography
Architect and photographer Fernando Guerra built the first known drone for architectural photography in 2010. He purchased an inexpensive drone and outfitted it with a high-definition camera and extra engines to take pictures of buildings from above. This early drone had a two-minute capacity, quickly changing the future of architectural design. Drones allow a new look and perspective into spaces with numerous angles and images. Drones also called, “UAVs,” are unmanned aerial vehicles.
Exciting opportunities are on the horizon for architects. Drones are now being used within architecture and construction industries. Among the many uses, drones are being used as surveying apparatuses of building sites, transport vehicles, and marketing tools.
- Costs can be reduced when using drones to make typographic surveys
- There is no longer a need to hire a land surveyor
- Environmental changes below ground can be watched and evaluated
- In 2012, polystyrene bricks were transported at a construction site in France
- Rope bridge for humans was built by a drone in Zurich
- High definition photographs create stunning visuals for marketing purposes
- More accurate data creates stronger marketing materials
Drones provide other benefits for design and safety.
- Adding high definition cameras, infrared scanners, and thermal sensors can be helpful in the design phase of building
- Build better architectural models with more accurate data from 3D drafting and modeling software
- It is a safer option than sending people into unsafe places
Law on drone usage varies around the world. Regulations regarding flying in the dark, out of operators site, above certain altitudes, and near other structures or people are common limitations and concerns. Some countries require training programs but these are in early phases of development.
What form will drones take in coming years? City development and dwellings could look space age with multiple layers of aircraft buzzing through the skies. Talk of lower level human transport, mid-level package delivery, and higher altitude commercial aircraft sounds complicated and exciting. Hopefully, emergent help for undeveloped areas and countries like Africa will arrive soon with unlimited opportunity for human mercy.
“Laws regarding drone use are neither simple nor easy. Being held to high standards of responsibility and integrity are required for the right to use drones.” – Katherin Frankovic, KDE Photography
Video Doorbells * Security Cameras * Security Systems
Safely Answer the Door From Anywhere
RING is a Caller-ID for the Front Door
Two clients this year installed RING video doorbells during new construction.
What’s the buzz about and why does it deserve a look?
WHAT IS RING?
- “Alexa, who’s at the front door?” RING is owned by Amazon and fully integrates with Amazon Alexa.
- Sync the easy-to-use Video Doorbell, Camera, and Alarm Security System together for complete home security OR use RING products separately.
- Install the RING App and operate RING via Apple, Android, or Windows 10.
- RING operates without subscription OR subscribe to the RING Alarm Home Security System for a modest fee with 24/7 professional security and additional features such as recording/saving videotape.
- Hardwired attachment to a computer is not necessary BUT Wireless Internet connection is required to send live video and audio to RING devices via the RING App.
- The customizable system can easily be set up within 15 minutes. Professional installation is not required.
- Enjoy the quality hardware and additional accessories including Night Vision motion sensors, solar chargers, security signs, and much more.
- FCC approved RING provides limited warranties and theft protection.
HOW CAN A VIDEO DOORBELL BE SMART?
- See, hear, and speak to visitors at the door remotely.
- RING Video Doorbell provides instant mobile/tablet alerts of motion or doorbell ring, video of door, and two-way audio allowing conversation with someone at the front door even when away from home.
- Multiple doorbells can be specified and notifications include information on which doorbell shows activity.
- RING Video Doorbell can be shared with other users and on multiple devices.
- RING Video Doorbell can be hardwired to existing doorbell or operated wirelessly via built-in battery. Batteries typically run 6-12 months between charge and low battery reminders are sent via Email and App.
- If Internet connection is disrupted, the doorbell can still be heard inside and out but audio and video data cannot be sent via RING App.
- Multiple color options provide seamless decorating.
HOW CAN RING SECURITY CAMERAS DETER CRIME?
- Three security cameras work with RING: RING Floodlight Cam, RING Spotlight Cam, and Stick Up Cam.
- RING Floodlight Cam provides HD video, two flood lights, remote activation, 110Db alarm, two-way audio with noise cancellation, 270 degree motion sensing, and 140 degree field view.
- RING Spotlight Cam supplies anyplace mounting, four configurations: wired, battery, solar, and mount, two-way talk, motion zones, and lights control.
- Stick Up Cam offers the ability to be placed anywhere.
HOW DOES THE RING ALARM SECURITY SYSTEM OPERATE?
- Indoor and outdoor products integrate seamlessly with each other for complete customizable home protection.
- An indoor security hub with smart sensors including motion activated cameras provide security monitoring.
- Spotlight cameras, floodlight cameras, alarms, lights, and Video Doorbell with 2-way conversation cover exterior protection.
- The reasonably priced security kit includes a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Additional sensors are available.
- RING Protect Plan includes a modest monthly or yearly fee with no long-term contracts.
- RING Protect Plan provides around the clock professional monitoring alerting you and 911 emergency personnel
- Ring Video Recording saves video up to 60 days with option to download to storage and electronically share with others. Without Ring Video Recording you cannot review video.
- Help police identify and arrest burglars from recorded video footage.
- RING App allows, “Disarmed,” “Home,” or “Away,” programming and designated “Light Zones” viewing.
- Join neighbors in a Neighborhood Watch program via RING Neighborhood App to get real-time safety alerts and crime notices from RING Security, law-enforcement, and neighbors.
- Check your local jurisdiction for information on whether the Ring Alarm System needs a permit.
- Exciting and available soon, new integrated products include flood and freezer sensors and alarm, smoke, and carbon dioxide detectors.
“I chose the Ring Video Doorbell because it integrates fully with Alexa and is hardwired.” – Brian
It is said that renovating a house to accommodate the needs of mobility-impaired persons will increase its property value by as much as 25%. People see the value of future-proofing their home for aging or sudden health challenges. There’s also a convenience factor in making it easier to carry laundry, luggage, the vacuum, or even moving furniture.
People are living longer and many desire to stay in their homes as long as possible. Whether building a new home or renovating an existing one, plans can be made to allow for aging in place. Considering mandatory space requirements, a good place to start planning is with upward/downward movement. Recent technological advances give us several good options to move between floors utilizing chair lifts or platform lifts.
Chair lifts provide a seat for one person that moves up/down the length of a stairway. With many safety features, these lifts are easy to use and affordable. Both straight and curved stairways can be accommodated by a chair lift that attaches to stair treads and can be placed on either side. Chairs fold away when not in use and swivel seats are highly recommended for ease of movement. Chair lifts are powered by battery or electric sources but A/C power with a rechargeable battery is ideal. They are available both indoors and outdoors.
Platform lifts can accommodate anyone including those in wheelchairs, power chairs, or scooters. The most common platform lift is also called an elevator. In addition, there are open vertical platform lifts best used for shorter distances and incline platform lifts that move mobility devices like a wheelchair up/down a stairway.
Home elevators are not only for the rich and famous anymore. New technology allows better affordability, a slimmer profile, energy efficiency, quieter operation, and customization. Elevators are typically enclosed with solid walls and/or glass and move between floors. Today, there is no need to dig a pit or shaft or provide space for a machine room. In many cases, little to no construction is required. A few power options exist: pneumatic, battery, cable/pulley, and hydraulic. In some cases, a separate dedicated power line does not need to be installed. The fun part is choosing size and finish materials like flooring, walls, lighting, and hardware. Check safety features between manufacturers when deciding what works best for your needs.
Open vertical platform lifts, sometimes referred to as “porch lifts” are a lower cost option typically suited for for situations with a smaller number of stairs. These lifts look like an open cage with swinging doors.
An incline platform lift transports most mobility devices up/down a staircase. This is a good option if there is no space for a vertical platform lift. While the lift takes up a majority of the stairway, some models fold to within 13” when not in use. They are available for both indoors/outdoors.
Ramps, of course, are another option best used outdoors. The disadvantage is space requirements: 12” horizontal travel is needed for every 1” of vertical travel. Ramps can also cause fatigue.
Also, when planning for barrier-free accessibility, keep in mind that extra square footage is necessary to maneuver wheelchairs and other mobility devices through wider hallways and doorways. Kitchens and bathrooms also require special design. Stairlifts, platform lifts, or home elevators will become necessary to remain living in the same house. The costs for these Universal Design features will be miniscule if a need arises due to accident, health problems, or aging.
Along with smart watches that monitor heart rate and activity, the latest craze in the fitness world is on demand services. Personal fitness has transitioned from gyms, to home videos, and now to online. Technology opens up many opportunities in all aspects of our lives. So, just what requirements are needed for a home gym?
Online health and fitness services provide convenience, privacy, flexibility, and education for your self-motivated “get fit” plan. Ranging from free to monthly or annual packages, these services offer beginner to advanced level workouts like yoga, pilates, stretching, mindfulness, strength training, abs, cardio, walking, rehab, and many others. There’s something for everyone! There are programs that incorporate equipment like ellipticals, treadmills, and stationary bicycles. Diet plans, one-on-one personal training, blog posts, recipes, nutrition, and even goal tracking are offered in pricier programs. Routines typically range between 15-60 minutes at any time of day for your convenience. On demand streaming can be accessed anywhere there is Wi-Fi or a Network Connection.
In designing a home gym, consideration needs to be made for an inviting, functional, and motivating space. Natural or bright lights stimulate energy. Mirrors allow a visual for proper form. Air quality is important in hot and humid environments. A separate heating/cooling system or controls is ideal. Ceiling or stand-alone fans will help make the room more comfortable. Desirable is sound-deadening flooring, walls, and ceiling accomplished with insulation and special finishing materials like carpet tiles. Recommended flooring includes, rubber, sheet vinyl, hardwood, or carpet tiles.
Be sure to allow plenty of room for planned activities. On demand fitness requires space to move around doing aerobic moves, lifting weights, and floor space. Large equipment requires certain clearance so be sure to check with the manufacturer. A good home gym will have a rack, bench, barbells, plates, and dumbbells for strength training. Proper placement of technology allows face-to-face interaction with an instructor via a webcam. Let us design and build your virtual home gym to hone a more efficient healthy body so you feel amazing!