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Home Automation Consultant Gets Technology Trained

My wife and I recently had the wonderful opportunity to stay for the weekend at a client's home on Lake Michigan. A few years earlier my Consultative Practice, Tech Tonic Consultants, had the opportunity to design a complete automated home for them. We developed and designed the following systems for our client:

 

Audio Distribution

Video Distribution

Security

Video Surveillance

Climate Control

Lighting Control

Shade Control

Home Theater

Media Room

Haiku Fan Control

Keyless Entry

Acoustic Noice Control

Hidden Solutions for a very Modern Home

 

What was really great about the project was working with the fantastic firm of Wheeler Kearns Architects. Even better was collaborating with the client's who are World Class.

 

So full disclosure.  The home is about 90 miles away from where we live and I discovered from a previous visit to a different client in the area that they had a Surround Receiver fail.  Since there are not many Home Automation Integrators in the area, they used a firm based in Chicago.  The firm wanted to charge a lot of money to pick up the unit. Being new empty nesters, my wife and I take weekends to various places.  I told my client I would pick up the unit for nothing as we would stay somewhere in the area for our getaway weekend.

 

My client was extremely gracious to say, "Why don't you stay at our home."  So let me back up again.  My clients built this incredible home only to move a few months after completion to another state.  So now, this is their "Summer Home."  Therefore, we were able to stay at the home by ourselves.  WOW.

 

This was the first time I could remember that I EVER stayed at a Client's home for relaxation purposes (Well, and to pick up a Surround Receiver.).

 

We got in late on Friday evening after picking up groceries.  I had the Savant App on my phone and was able to turn off the security before we got there as well as turn on various lights so we were not in the dark getting in.  (My Client had already remotely turned the heat up for us.) I was also able to get the keyless entry to open the Door.  All kinda cool.  After putting the groceries away we picked up the remote and watched some TV in the Family Media Room.  I opened the shades with my phone so we could look out at the vast darkness to the Lake. Then, I started to have my wife use the system to see if she could operate the home's various features.  She is a smart cookie and with a little tutorial was able to navigate and get all the subsystems going around the home.  I was having fun testing her on how to control this and see see that.  But alas, it was late and we wanted to make a full day of it on Saturday, so we went to bed. (Also, my wife got tired of me "testing.")

 

6 AM rolled around and this is a glass house with shades but not blackout shades.  We did not set the curtains to be closed.  However, no big deal as we always get up at this time in the morning.

 

Time for coffee.

 

We went downstairs to the kitchen and I was impressed when my wife pushed the Lutron Keypad to open the shades and turn on the lights.  The lake had 6-8 ft waves due to 50 mile an hour winds.  Beautiful when your indoors.  We set out to make some coffee so we could watch the morning unfold.

 

Where was the coffee maker?  We could not find it with any of the other appliances in the kitchen.  It was not by the toaster.  Looking around I realized I forgot that it was built into the millwork.  

 

And then I started.

 

Where are the Coffee beans?  Do I need to grind them?  Where do they go?  Do I need a filter?

 

Does the coffee maker have an incoming line for water?  Is their a reservoir?

 

Was it unplugged because I could not get anything to happen on the screen! 

 

How do you turn it on?

 

I now clearly understood many people who are not savvy with technology.  "Where is the coffee maker" was akin to "where the heck is the remote" or "which remote should be used?"

 

So I had invested about 10 minutes into this coffee maker and had not gotten anywhere. The weather outside was forcing our hand to stay inside.  I was getting extremely flustered.

 

Oh no, no, no no.  My wife starts walking over from the Family Room table.  With iPhone in hand she had already been on YouTube and looked up the Coffee Maker Model.  "Show off," I silently thought.  "Come on, guys can figure this stuff out."

 

I was ready to go to any coffee joint I could find but she had me sit down at the Kitchen counter to watch the instructional video.

 

"Really, this whole thing pulls out from the wall?  Check it out.  That makes sense."

 

"Ah, so the coffee bean storage is to the side of the coffee maker when it is pulled out.  That is kinda cool."

 

"Oh, the units puts in the right amount of beans, grinds them and then uses water from its own reservoir.  I get it."

 

"Aha, there is the damn power button.  Who decided to put it there?"

 

Finally, after watching the instructional video tutorial on the Coffee Maker, we or should I say she brewed two perfect cups of coffee.  

 

You cannot get wound up when learning a new device or system.  Yes, objects should be obvious to operate. Check out The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman.  It is a book I live and breathe by.  However, when I was out of my element, it was hard to learn something new.  

 

Thank goodness my wife was around to train me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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