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Author Archive Caroline Meech

Chauffeur driving the homebuying experience

I read an article this week that announced ‘Homes are the new cars’ – and with four kids dumping a whole range of paraphernalia willy-nilly under and between the seven seats, I do often mistake our Volvo for their bedrooms! On a serious note, it referred to what was once a luxury now being offered as standard.  Over recent years, car manufacturers have seen huge profit increases through brand lock-ins and connected in-car infotainment systems.  Volvo for example has a long-running partnership with Google whose Android operating system powers its Sensus infotainment system and Google universe services will be introduced into its next-generation system.

Now it’s our turn.  Where once Developers relied upon high-labour bespoke items with a low-profit margin, such as kitchens, to tempt homebuyers, they are beginning to see the benefits of integrated high-tech add-ons that have a much greater Wow! factor and enable developers to maintain a higher asking-price.  How?  Well, it’s all about your customers.

In their shoes

Your potential homebuyers, let’s call them Mike and Anna, pull up on-site having seen that the homes are advertised as ‘Smart Ready’, tickling their taste buds enough for them to want to find out more.  Mike heads straight to the sales assistant wanting to know the price of the properties on offer; Anna reads the marketing materials and looks at the site-plan, eyeing a nice corner plot, before being shown towards the show-home.  On entry they see a strategically placed sign on the walls instructing ‘Say “Lights On”’, Anna is impressed, Mike’s not letting on at this stage.  The sales assistant shuts the front door behind them and leaves to view alone.

Walking around, Anna obeys each of the signs from “TV On” and “Heating On Low” to “Chill Out Music On” and “Evening Lighting On” and is enthused.  Mike’s quietly impressed but isn’t sure about the investment.  Whilst they admire the size of the en-suite bedroom the doorbell rings and a touch screen panel lights up on the bedroom wall.  The sales assistant appears on the screen and Anna chats with her before unlocking the front door remotely and letting her in.  Now Mike is interested. 

They join the sales assistant downstairs and she shows them her mobile phone, revealing that the entire smart home system can be controlled from wherever she is, using one integrated app.  She explains the advanced features of the entry system app which allows the controller to activate any type of customisable ‘scene’ in their home, such as turning on lights, opening the garage, unlocking the door or quickly activate alerts such as sounding an alarm, locking all doors, or turning on all interior and exterior lighting for added safety if the property is empty.

Mike often works away from home and this has sold him the house.  At first, he was interested in the fact that the house would be ‘Smart Ready’ and he could use his Alexa to turn on the TV but the fact that so many options can be integrated either now or at later stages, and the safety of his family taken care of, will see him pay a premium for the peace of mind.  Knowing that both he and Anna can see who is at his front door whilst he is working late at night is an added bonus.

How much work?

So, for the Developer, how much work is actually involved?  What do you have to do to maintain your preferred price point?  The answer, in reality, is very little.  Planned at the right stage, Smart Home Integration, is simple.  Planning starts from approved plan stage, (smart blueprints for each house ‘type’ can be replicated across a development), cabling takes place at first-fix by the Developer’s electricians and cables can either remain hidden or be blank plated ready for installation experts to be brought in as and when the customer is ready.  Developers can choose to offer Smart Home Integration as part of their overall package or pass on customers to a Ugot expert once they take ownership of their new home.

The key to success

The key to making this work is to make the process seamless.  Planning makes it seamless, makes it simple for everyone concerned.  Offering something that’s a little bit more than just a ‘nice to have’ and more of an essential in terms of both security and future-proofing a home gives homebuyers confidence.  Chauffeur drive the home-buying experience, show them what’s possible and be the industry standard. 

By Caroline Meech, Marketing Manager, Ugot Smart Integration.  www.ugot.co.uk

Be Smart, Be Secure

Gone are the days when smart homes were just for the tech-savvy early-adopters, today if you’ve got a smart home hub then you’re half way there. You might only use yours to play music or to get the local weather forecast, but the capabilities go far beyond that.

Elan g! interface on smartphoneSo what does having a fully integrated smart home actually mean? Typically, it will have all, or a combination of, the following elements that are voice or app activated: lighting, heating, CCTV, alarm systems, electric blinds, home cinema, even door locking and security. It’s possible for some systems to be retro-fitted in modern homes but if you’re looking at buying off-plan or self-building, even better. But what’s the point you may ask, perhaps it’s a passing phase? Not so. Where once these systems were something to show off, they are fast becoming the essential items for the savvy house-buyer and house-builder.

What’s in it for you? 

Well, apart from being something to show off, they make life that much easier. Imagine this, after a long-hard day at work, tired children in tow, the alarm has already been deactivated via your mobile phone, the outside lights are on and you enter your home using your thumbprint. The door opens to lighting and that was pre-set for your arrival and the children make themselves comfortable as they call out for their favourite programme to start on the TV in their den and your favourite music station is already playing on your integrated speakers. Gone is the scrabbling around for keys, feeling for the light switch and jumping to the kids demands, bliss.

Home & Property security

CCTV, simulated occupancy, gate and door entry control system design & installation

But what about when you’re on holiday or away on business? Perhaps you’re worried about leaving your home vacant and vulnerable. Don’t be. With simulated occupancy, your smart home can be set up to mirror a typical week of activity. Lights and sound systems can replicate a normal pattern, without the predictability of timed lamps switching on and off at the same time each day. In addition, you can monitor your CCTV footage from your app and even speak to any callers remotely via a door entry system.  

Best of all, every home is bespoke. You get exactly what you want and need. Don’t want the kids to be able to activate your controls? No problem. You want to add automated lights a little later on when your budget allows? Again, no problem. Smart integration is exactly that. It’s flexible, intelligent and made for you.

To find out more, give your local Smart Integration Specialists a call on 02380 253399 or email sales@ugot.co.uk

Life beyond the lawnmower

There was an article in a national newspaper yesterday, instructing the general public as to the top 5 smart gadgets to invest in. Two of these products made sense, a smart home heating thermostat and a security doorbell. One however, it probably not on the average home owners’ essential buy list – the smart lawnmower, nice to have but not essential. 

What, then, was the point of the article? To stir interest or to excite the reader? Either way it seemed like a wasted opportunity. For most, smart integration is relatively new but the possibilities are endless. The technology, in reality, goes far further than the article hints at. In fact, the smart home integration market is doing seamlessly now, what was mooted around 12 years ago. It’s integrating the life of the average homeowner, not only making it more convenient but also more secure. The article talked about a self-dimming lightbulb, what it didn’t mention is that you can now install a lighting system, doorbell and CCTV system that can be managed from one control hub – be that your smart phone, tablet or remote control.

The beauty of a smart home is that it’s as unique as the home owner. Love parties?  Integrate a full home entertainment and lighting system that you can control at the tap of an app. Often away for business or leisure? Keep an eye on your home and make it look as though you’re cosied up in the lounge watching TV from the comfort of your hotel room.

“The beauty of a smart home is that it’s as unique as the home owner.”

If you’ve only just discovered the Internet of Things, this is your chance to change your world.  If you’ve got a couple of devices, don’t just think about what they can do in their simplest form, think about what the possibilities could be. The range of smart devices out there is huge and growing all the time but the smart home owner will be thinking about how these things can work together simply and effectively to really make a difference to how they live their life. 

Think smart, be smart, visit www.ugot.co.uk

Collaboration begins in the Smart home

How using an integration expert will give you and your clients peace of mind.

‘The Internet of Things’ – are you familiar with the phrase? Because if you’re not yet, you soon will be according to tech experts. In the broadest sense it covers all disparate systems, items and objects that are connected to the internet which are increasingly beginning to communicate with one another. Predictions say there will be approximately 76 billion connected devices worldwide by 2025!

Energy companies, with the government’s blessing, are already fully signed up to the concept with the target of offering every home a smart meter by 2020, and smart home hubs are fast becoming the norm too. So it seems we’re approaching the next few years at warp speed! Home integration can, in theory, connect a plethora of devices such as smart watches, toasters, kettles, washing machines, fridges, cat feeders, toothbrushes, mirrors, even dog collars with automated systems that in turn can gather information to ‘enhance’ the home owners’ life. It might sound a little bit OTT right now if it’s not your kind of thing but the reality is that within the next decade or so, many people will be living in homes that require nothing more than a voice and auto-sensing via a mobile phone or tablet to get everything and anything done, recorded and measured.

It all sounds amazing, if a little sci-fi, but there is an element of risk, to both security and privacy.  With disparate systems you will inevitably get a range of IP addresses communicating with the outside world, this in itself puts them at risk of security breaches. Right now, your clients are probably asking about integrated doorbells, lighting and CCTV but remember, with any smart products, if the set-up isn’t managed by an expert the risk is potentially much greater.

Know a ‘man’ who can

So how can you, as leaders in your field, help your clients to stay safe? Engage with a smart integration expert as soon as your client mentions the word ‘Alexa’ or ‘Siri’. By using one mobile interface with robust and safe network remote control, you can make a disparate smart home smarter.

Still not sure what it’s all about or what value you can add? Consider this. You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to know an expert who can assist your clients if they ask for help or mention their concerns about keeping their homes and data safe. If you’re able to connect your client with the expert who can provide that knowledge, you’ll have the edge over your competition.

If you’re keen to partner with an expert who can navigate the technological minefield with you and your client and also offer practical and reliable solutions, don’t hesitate to get in touch, we’d be delighted to meet with you. Call 02380 253399 or email sales@ugot.co.uk