What is the market for home automation technology?
Home automation has traditionally been focused on entertainment applications such as home theater and whole house audio systems. With the advent of concerns regarding global climate change and renewable energy, the focus has shifted toward automation systems that deliver great efficiencies for home systems that use electricity and natural gas (heating oil to a limited extent). As such Lagotek’s Home Intelligence Platform manages lighting, climate control, motorized window coverings and lifestyle enhancements that include home theater, whole house audio, security and more. Since Lagotek is wireless, the remodel market is also available as a primary target.
What are the benefits of home automation technology for homeowners?
With Lagotek home control, homeowners enjoy the efficiencies and convenience of all home systems working together as a single, intelligent appliance as opposed to the islands of functionality of traditional homes where lighting has no relationship to climate control or security or any other electrical system. By providing an integrated environment that is essentially a computer network for the home, Lagotek is able to automate most features and make them accessible remotely from a PC or cell phone. The homeowner enjoys a new lifestyle of convenience and efficiency that is not possible without a similar system.
We’ve been hearing buzz about motorized window coverings – does Lagotek offer this technology?
Lagotek has made motorization of window coverings a primary focus both in terms of technology and product development and marketing. Our recent national relationship with Budget Blinds is an example of our marketing efforts. Our application category for controlling motorized window coverings has been designed to compete with the most sophisticated competitive products in this category. There will be more announcements in the future.
How can home automation – i.e. motorized window coverings and other applications – reduce energy costs for homeowners?
According to Berkley Labs, 54% of home energy usage is attributable to lighting, heating and cooling in U.S. homes. Lagotek’s zoned climate control system can reduce energy usage for HVAC by as much as 40% and Lagotek’s lighting controls cut electrical consumption for lighting by 25% to 30%. New relationships with LED manufacturers such as ACT promise to reduce lighting power consumption by as much as 90% over standard incandescent lights. Modes and Rules automate usage so that lights are never left on inadvertently or climate control is never set to living temperatures where people are not present. The savings are very significant; and the convenience must be experienced to be appreciated fully.
Are there any barriers to homeowners implementing this technology?
Lagotek was designed for the mass market with features that have traditionally only been available to high-end home owners because of cost and complexity. Lagotek is available to any home with systems starting at approximately $5k.
Does the homeowner need a professional installer or can he install and set up the system himself?
There are two classes of home control systems, the do-it-yourself type from companies such as SmartHome and Worthington and professional systems from Crestron, AMX and others. Lagotek is in the professional category where all systems are installed by certified technicians. We have greatly lowered the bar for technical background required to become an installer and also made training and certification very easy through an eLearning program. We want our end-user customers to enjoy a very satisfactory experience and have therefore determined that the certified installer method is the best way to make that possible.
Can you recommend a starter system and path to full functionality for a typical home including some of the costs and requirements?
I have attached three packaged systems for review. The hardware portion includes all the Lagotek and third party components without motorized window coverings (since this component can take many varied directions). The software to control motorized window coverings is included. The Platinum I package can be used for any sized home as a starter package. Since Lagotek is wireless, new areas of the home can be expanded in the future without any major disruptions. The features include lighting, HVAC, whole house entertainment audio, monitoring and surveillance cameras in all packages. Platinum II adds security and Platinum III adds home theater. The number of components scale as the house becomes larger.
What new developments do you see in home automation over the next 5 to 10 years?
We see home automation becoming a standard feature of every new or remodeled home. With the energy efficiency and lifestyle enhancements provided, homeowner expectations will rise to the level of becoming a requirement. The green initiatives both culturally and through government mandate will also push for standardization. We will see home control systems used to manage peak energy usage in addition to simply telling homeowners how much energy they use; which is today’s state-of-the-art. As the market builds, we will also see prices continue to fall (with scale comes cost savings) and make high-end features available to literally everyone. Lagotek has taken a large step in this direction as the pricing examples should illustrate.