Automated Living by URC
Automated Living by URC is the publication that brings you the latest ideas and trends in control solutions. Get to know URC, enjoy fun giveaways, and enjoy features and stories about people and homes that have leveraged automation to make every day better.
From the Editor
Cat Toomey, Director of Marketing, URC
What inspired you to join us in our debut issue of
Automated Living by URC? Was it the idea of simplifying your life and having easier access to fun things? Or maybe you heard about home control from your installer; or was it something entirely different?

Whatever your reason, your timing is perfect. Recent innovations like smartphones, tablets and apps have changed the universe of control. As a result, what we’ve been doing here for twenty years has come whirling into the forefront for consumers more than ever before. You know those moments when you just say, “Hey - the time is now.” Well, this was one of those for us – and we hope it will be for you.

We were inspired to add this e-pub to get closer to our customers who want to know more about control, understand interests, and share ongoing ideas of how URC is changing lives in this wonderful world of home automation. While we have a well-established industry e-newsletter, we’ve been percolating on the consumer one for a year. Today was the day to let it fly, and we thank you for joining us.

I’ve been in this “lifestyle” consumer electronics biz for 22 years. I know I’m dating myself here, but in the early days, I worked for a company that figured out how to take garage door IR and RF technology and apply it to control video projectors and audio equipment for commercial buildings. It was cool, I admit it. But those systems were early, highly complex, required lots of hardware, and there was nothing like the internet or mobile apps.

Today URC remotes and apps can control most anything in your home or office. We think you’ll be amazed at how you can check on the kids from afar, press a button to dim the lights, lower the blinds, and turn on your entertainment system. How about getting text alerts when a door opens or setting a path of lights as you drive up to the house?  Our customers do all that and more. And, thanks to the internet, these systems are easier than ever to update.

We hope you’ll come to the same realization we came to: the time is now.

It’s high time we share our customers’ many makeover stories and delight you with new, easier ways to live in an ever-complicated world. While we can’t get your kids or your car under control, we can do just about everything else to make life better.

I’m looking forward to interacting with you, hearing about your world of control and how you came to visit us at URC. Send me a note anytime at

Cat A. Toomey
Universal Remote Control, Director of Marketing
Editor, Automated Living by URC

Featured Install
Rustic-style home gets the Total Control treatment.
Rustic Revival
WeeBee Audio Video
(Costello Home, Lancaster County PA)

Nicknamed the Garden Spot of America, in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, Lancaster County is home to beautiful scenery dotted with one-room schoolhouses, farm animals visible from quiet country roads and an impressive number of wooden covered bridges. Nestled amid this relaxing and peaceful place that values farmland preservation, sits a home that mirrors the county’s respect for the old; a true labor of love full of reclaimed elements seamlessly combined with modern convenience and luxury.

When the homeowners, Sara and her husband Dave Costello, of Costello Builders, decided to construct their new home, there was one thing of which they were sure. A home theater was a must-have. Long-time friend Lee Rambler of WeeBee Audio Video knew just how to deliver it. “We’ve dealt with Sara and Dave for about 15 years. This is the fourth house we’ve worked on together with them so we have a pretty good relationship.” Mixing old and new, rustic and refined, the resulting home embraces eclecticism with plenty of high-end appeal.

The Costellos, for their part, always wanted a dedicated theater room but it never seemed to fit. So, when the 2012 Lancaster Building and Industry Association’s early summer Parade of Homes rolled around, it seemed as good a time as any to build a home for themselves—theater room included. “We all agreed to take what could have been a study room or living room and make it into the theater room,” says Lee. Incorporating natural design elements from the rest of the home, the 92” projector screen is framed in construction salvaged wood facing plush couches amidst hardwood floors and a truly unique sculptural depiction of a coral reef.

“Total Control made things super simple for them. They love that they can use their iPhone® or iPad® to control everything, especially their music, without having to search for a remote. We recommended shading and lighting control too, which were add-ons they initially didn’t care about, but now consider pretty neat and very useful.”

The day before the Parade of Homes judging, the home theater played host to the family’s teenage daughter and her friends. Cool enough for a teen girl’s birthday bash and comfortable enough for mother-daughter movie nights; it’s the ultimate multi-purpose space.

“It’s flattering to know that Sara and her daughter love the time they spend in the theater room watching movies, hanging out with friends or just lounging,” says Lee.

“Over a year later,” adds Sara, “and it’s still my favorite room in the house.”

Photo Gallery
Photos courtesy of Donovan Roberts Witmer
Hot Topics and Trends
Steve Castle,
TecHome Builder
Home in Your Hands
Home automation is on a smartphone near you.
By Steve Castle, TecHome Builder

Everywhere I go people are showing me their smartphones or their tablets. And they are not showing me photos of their kids or cats.

The latest e-device show-and-tell took place recently at the CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) Expo in Denver, where home control was big, big, BIG. People there couldn't resist showing me how they operate home features from lights to door locks to thermostats and more—on their smartphones and tablets. It's also common to view video from web-based security cameras via mobile devices and to check a home's energy consumption. I only viewed two pictures of kids, and absolutely zero cats.

This movement toward a connected home isn't new. It's been going on for a while. Home electronic devices or systems without mobile apps are like ... well ... YouTube without cat videos. Simply put, mobile apps have become a necessity. And home control via a smartphone or tablet is quickly becoming the same. Not only is it cool and fun, home control systems provide remote connectivity to a home, so you can check on web cams to see who has come home, adjust the lights or unlock doors. You can turn things on or off with your smartphone, even get energy usage reports from in-home energy monitors. Many people even like controlling their thermostats from smartphones, when they would never program them at home. Some systems also boast geo-location services that use the GPS on a smartphone to see how far you are from home and adjust the thermostat to the temperature you desire when you get there.

These aren’t just convenience features; they can be considered necessities for today’s hectic, on-the-go lifestyles. One homeowner even busted his teenager for having a party while he and his wife were away, just by seeing the energy usage report from his house. (Talk about practical!)

Also watch for more systems offering voice control, gesture control, biometric (think fingerprint) scanning, digital home health options and ways to keep track of elders’ activities so you know they’re OK. The automated and connected home is here—and it’s on a smartphone near you.

Steve Castle is the editor-in-chief of TecHome Builder (, covering home technologies for homebuilders. A consumer-facing portal, TecHome America, will be added in 2014.

Get to Know URC
Lars Granoe, URC VP of Sales
It's Q & A with Lars Granoe
URC VP of Sales, music aficionado and Bond buff

Ok, so you preach it, you sell it, I get it. But do you really live with this stuff at home?
Absolutely do, day in and day out. It’s why I’m so passionate about what we do at URC. We have both our Total Control® and Complete Control™ products in the house. They are actually very easy to use for the whole family. Pick up a remote, press a button and dim the lights, start the show and we just chill on Friday night. Our sitter started using it without anyone showing her how.

When I bring home the newest gadgets when we’re beta testing a new product, I ask my wife and 11 year old daughter to use them. They like to try to find things we don’t at the office and that’s a bonus.

Since you have access to all of the URC cool control products and capabilities, what do you and your family use the most?
I like mornings more than I ever did. I’m an audio guy, and I love waking up with music. I installed a waterproof stereo speaker in the shower and with a button press on the touchscreen it jumpstarts energy for the URC day ahead. While I’m shaving, on the URC touch screen I check to see the weather, listen to top news stories and have everything right there while I’m getting ready. I couldn’t go without it now.

My wife likes to be able to open shades from the bed before she gets up. She hits one button and all the shades open up in the whole house, so when she goes downstairs, things are bright and ready for her.

You have an 11 year old daughter. With all the music and videos right on kids’ phones today, what’s her participation been like with the system?
We put ceiling speakers in her room. She has her iPod in the URC dock (PSX-2) in her own domain and listens to her favorite tunes while getting ready for school or when she’s got friends over. It’s all in her control in her own personal space - and you know how teenagers like that independence!

Knowing all you know as an ”insider,” what would you suggest to someone considering adding a home control system?
Whenever my friends or someone at an event starts asking about what I do for a living, they always seem to think this kind of smart home automation is for the rich and famous. They immediately believe it’s an expensive or complicated endeavor.

But the reality is virtually anyone can start with one small, basic controller and an interface – say an iPhone or one of our handheld remotes. That’s it!  And then they can add things later on if they want to, such as lighting or climate control, using that very same controller. URC is just not complicated or pricey, and the day-to-day value it brings is unquestionable in our house.

You mentioned beta test products and new technologies at your place. What are you most excited about that’s coming near term from URC?
Security and personal protection is ultra-important these days for everybody. And it’s not just about your alarm system anymore. When you have family, I know I always want things to be safe. With the new Z-Wave gateway we just announced and is about to be shipped, we’re having lots of fun with that and adding security features that rock.

My 11 year old can already stay in the family room and look on the remote to see who’s at the door to decide to answer or not when we’re not home. And now, with Z-Wave door locks, I know when she gets home from school via an alert on my iPhone. Or, when my wife pulls in she can instantly turn on all the lights in the house.  There’s a host of affordable locks and lights that are Z-Wave, so this is an easy add on.

We also have the benefit of making the house look lived in if we are out. Certain room lights go on and off at certain times, and that’s new peace of mind I’m very excited about.

The one thing my wife said since we put in one of the earliest Total Control systems is, “I’ve never come home to a dark house since.” Well, that was it for me.

Video Spotlight
On How You Can Take Total Control
Ever wonder what home control and automation means, but just want the quick and easy overview? In this video you'll see the many lifestyle benefits of Total Control® in 90 seconds.

Latest News
Check out the new look of our website today -
URC Launches New Website
For months now, we’ve been quietly hard at work for you behind the scenes on an entirely new instrument we hope will have positive, high impact on every URC dealer, distributor, partner and customer. We are pleased to announce the exciting launch of our consumer website and invite you to take a look at the fresh new face of

We hope you’ll find navigation easier as you explore the inspiring world of control and automation. We’ve carefully taken the point-of-view of the customer in every aspect, from simple descriptions of what home control can do, to consumer-oriented videos, images and the products we offer. Visitors to the site will now discover automation ideas and solutions, URC featured homes and commercial installations, tips and more!
Plus, we’ve simplified product descriptions to be most meaningful for existing and potential new customers, and moved the more in-depth technical descriptions and accessories to our (also) new Control Room, where they make the most sense for our URC Dealers and Resellers.

Hand-in-hand with the attractive new site is the debut of our new consumer e-publication—Automated Living by URC. Designed for customers, this added newsletter reveals control possibilities, trends in technology, featured installs, and more from your friends at URC. Web visitors can sign up to receive this quarterly edition here.

URC is unique in that literally millions visit our website. So doing business with us and our partners must be fast, easy and fun. As such, we’re dedicated to the ongoing effort of creating the most valuable online control resource. Our team will continue to add content and enhanced functionality providing you with a primary source of URC info. Future enhancement include automatic platform detection and website formatting to suit smart phones and tablets.

Pease feel free to contact us with feedback anytime. Check out our major consumer-focused shift and send customers our way—every day. Enjoy!


What's the Latest?
Music, Music Everywhere
Integration with Sonos® Music Players

Sonos® is a company that makes popular audio and streaming music service products. Our job at URC is always to make things work together for you so it’s easy to get what you want, when you want it. Just recently, we added the ability for our Total Control® system to work seamlessly with Sonos® music players!

Now, whether you opt to enjoy your music from streaming music services like Pandora, your favorite radio station or iTunes, it’s all oh-so-easy-to-do right from URC’s remotes, keypads, or even your own smart phone or tablet. This new solution is ultrafast and works with current and past Sonos® Players and Playbar® products. CD-quality sound can be yours in every room of your house AND outdoors with perfect synchronization, and all your tunes accessed from anywhere in or around the home. It’s easy (and actually fun) to create playlists for dinner parties and summer BBQs to impromptu dance parties with the teens.

Put Control In Your Pocket
CC Mobile App for Android™

Thanks to our customers’ ever-increasing popularity of mobile apps and also Android™, we have just announced the newest mobile addition to the URC party. The Android™ Mobile App for our line of Complete Control™ products makes it simple to control all system components right from your Android phone or tablet.

With a dazzling, intuitive interface that can display in portrait or landscape format, you can do everything from setting a DVR and navigating favorite channels to controlling your music and videos. Even turn on a pathway of lights from your Android phone as you step out onto the pool patio at night simply by adding an optional little URC transmitter. Once your URC pro installer officiates the marriage of the app to your system, an unlimited number of Android devices can be supported. So add a phone? Not a problem. And, no licensing fees of any kind. The app can be downloaded from The Google Play Store.

Got Extra Sensory Perception?
Total Control Sensors

Get the latest smart home solutions. Exciting new automation possibilities abound with the introduction of our compact, versatile Sensor Extenders and companion box. Total Control systems can now automatically detect the status of various components and aspects of the environment in the home and trigger actions instantly – minus the mess of extra cables.

How cool would it be to have the blinds lowered and the light in the hallway turned on when the sun sets before you get home from work – and without you doing a thing? What about a modern day alarm clock? You can wake up to the sounds of your favorite song while the blinds are raised without leaving your bed. Or, auto pause the movie and mute the surround sound the instant the pizza guy rings your doorbell. These sensor additions to the Total Control lineup make it easy to enjoy total control intelligence of just about anything. Ask your URC professional integrator about the countless new possibilities to automate and make your home work for you!

Note: the companies listed here have products that URC products can control, and in most cases have been fully tested by URC and/or the company listed. The level of relationships and integration with each of these companies varies. No formal, official written agreement, endorsement or relationship is expressed or implied.
Hear What They're Saying
"Rick, my Integrator, is the man and Total Control is the system!" says Adam. "I use it every day. It provides ultimate control and flexibility for what our family needs. I can't wait to see what Rick and Total Control can do next."

— Adam, homeowner and URC customer, Tenafly, NJ
Contact Us
Email the editor of Automated Living by URC:

Check out our website for the latest control solutions and additional ideas:

And make sure to follow us on our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages too!
We Couldn't Do It Without You!
Thank you to the many contributors for their amazing work efforts, research and writing including:

Steve Castle
Nick Cofino
Toya Jean-Gilles
Jon Sienkiewicz
Shelley White
Lee Rambler
Universal Remote Control, Inc. • Harrison, NY • (800) 901-0800 •