A touch screen lets the owners select music for each room.
Add Bob Cole to the list of people who would like to thank Steve Jobs for making our lives simpler. Cole, owner and president of the local retailer World Wide Stereo, says automated homes are the wave of the future—a future now being realized around Philadelphia. “Automated homes are no longer just for the rich,” he says. “Now you can put everything from music, lighting, security, and heating and cooling at the touch of your fingertips—or on your iPhone or iPad.”
Mark Semerjian of Semerjian Builders (308 Dorset Road, Devon, 610-656-9334) agrees that Apple technology has been a game changer for home automation: “In years past, multiple and expensive touch-screen interfaces would be needed to integrate [many systems]. Now these touch screens are being replaced with much less expensive Apple devices.”
The TV, with full surround sound, becomes a mirror when turned off.
Just 10 years ago, it could cost six figures to automate a whole house; today it can be done for a small fraction of that price. “People like having their lives simplified,” says Cole, who started World Wide Stereo in the ’70s and now works with a high-profile clientele, including Grammy winners and professional athletes, selling everything from universal remotes to IMAX theater equipment.
One of the company’s recent retrofitting projects—a Bucks County farm—required special care to unite past and present. The challenge was to outfit the circa-1740 log cabin with the latest technology inside and out. The catch was that the homeowners didn’t want anyone to know it was there.
Tablets can be placed conveniently throughout the home.
“We had to do things like get speakers into the exposed beams and paint them the color of the wood so you couldn’t see them,” explains Mark Jones, managing director of World Wide Stereo’s Ardmore showroom.
Automation is appealing to area home owners of all ages. Young people in particular have an obvious affinity for seamless technology, says Connie Berg of Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors (680 Old York Road, Ste. 200, Jenkintown, 215-887-0400). Many of Berg’s younger clients plan to install systems of their own once they move in, so having the nuts and bolts in place adds to a home’s value. “We find that it’s more important to our younger buyers,” she says.
Temperature, lighting, and music in the house’s various zones, like the rustic kitchen, can be controlled via iPad.
But Berg has discovered that tech-friendly second homes are growing in popularity as well: “People with second homes are also automating them more and more. You can lock things up and shut off lights from your phone.”
Cole, meanwhile, looks at the trend philosophically: “Electronics are the servants of modern day. If you don’t have to leave your bed to put on music, shut off lights, or lock your house, you have more time for the things that matter.” World Wide Stereo, 38 Greenfield Ave., Ardmore, 610-649-7002; 754 Rte. 309, Montgomeryville, 215-368-8343