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.
By Cat A. Toomey
Director of Marketing, URC
Editor, Automated Living by URC
The theme of this issue is truly the Cat’s meow. December brings my most favorite time of year when families get together more, folks enjoy music with frequent entertaining, new movies are watched and more magical moments created. And, if you believe in the red-cloaked guy, Santa tries to tiptoe across the rooftop but the kids usually catch him red-handed. This is when we enjoy sharing our relevant holly jolly ideas, technology trends and latest home seasonal smarts.
In 2015 you may have heard lots about the “Internet of Things”” (IoT). If so, then you know there are scads of products claiming to make a home smarter. By 2017 AT&T projects 17 BILLION devices to be “internet connected” in homes. I fondly refer to it as the “IoWTMT” or the Internet of WAY Too Many Things. So how do you sort through options to find what you really want, what works best and will live in your home (and hand) well into 2016 and beyond?
In this issue we offer insights and inspiration from people whose homes are better via automation. Amidst the hype, there are things that can vastly improve life, not only at the holidays but throughout the year. For example, some autumn automation may include shades dropping and inside temperature warming as the sun sets. Or, you might want to see if kids are getting into gifts under the tree from the kitchen, without leaving the pumpkin pies. Teen parties percolating with releases like the new Minions Mini Movie Reel? What a good time to have TVs and Blu-rays tuned up for fast selections using your smartphone from any room.
In this issue we highlight innovative ideas that’ve been realized by real people. One family makes their Rochester residence rock, tying all home systems together into one seamless solution. It’s an awesome array of electronics yet still a cinch to use. You’ll see how to celebrate smarter with guest writer Lisa Montgomery, a true tech expert. Then, get to know our own Andre, head of alliances, who shares a Christmas poem and product compatibility just announced. See shiny, new state-of-the art remotes – one just in time for gift-giving and all wrapped up for a price you won’t believe.
All year we dream big. Whether you celebrate Hanukah, Christmas or something else, ’tis the season to make those visions a reality and ring in the New Year with a home system. So with the Cat’s meow in mind and cider in hand, read on – and discover how holidays can be more fun and festive with just a touch. Even the elves will be green with envy.
Good tidings to you and yours!
By Lisa Montgomery
Editor, Electronic House
To-do lists grow to gargantuan levels during the holiday season, but there’s no reason this seemingly endless array of obligations should stress you out. By adding a few basic smart technologies to your house, you’ll be able to cross off your holiday “have-tos” faster than ever before, making more time for you to relax and enjoy family and festivities to the fullest.
Here are five smart holiday-inspired home improvements you could tackle today and make things holly, jolly and bright!
After you’ve decked the halls with strands of colorful lights (hopefully, energy-efficient LED types), finish the job by plugging them into a timer. Basic timers are okay, but dare we say a little boring. Look for colored holiday lights that can be automated and controlled from an app on your smartphone. You’ll be able to then activate the lights whenever you want with just a tap of a button. You can even create custom light shows that’ll make your home the envy of the neighborhood. Check out Lumenplay App-Enabled Class C9 LED Light Starter Set at www.lumenplay.com.
Cooking is a big part of the holidays, but being tethered to the kitchen babysitting a batch of cookies or a prime rib roast can be a drag. Thanks to simple, affordable technology, you can rest assured that nothing burns as you join the festivities, even as noise from your guests drowns out the buzzer on your oven. A smart thermometer, which inserts directly into the dish you’re cooking, can tell an app on your smartphone to buzz when it’s finished and ready to be served. See Maverick Industries ET-11 Direct Connect Thermometer at www.maverickhousewares.com.
Peace of mind is the best gift of all. Prime time for home burglaries, it’s wise to make sure your house and all the good tidings inside it are safe and secure. You can invest in a basic security system and install it yourself (many options are available), or hire a pro to put in a more robust system. Either way, you’ll be able to monitor your homestead and be notified of any suspicious activity, even when you’re miles away. Complement the security system with a surveillance camera that can also be monitored remotely. URC offers seamless compatibility with countless cameras so you can look at your remote or smartphone to see who’s at the door dropping off that premium holiday package. Check out IC Realtime’s IC720 4K Virtual PTZ Camera at www.icrealtime.com.
While home for the holidays, most want their place to be a warm and welcoming destination for friends and family. Smart home automation can create the festive environment for entertaining guests—and all you have to do is touch one button on your smartphone or tablet, a keypad on the wall, or a remote control. This touch can launch a nice series of actions that set the lights just right, activate the Christmas tunes throughout the house, fire up the gas fireplace, and whatever else you’d like to happen. In seconds, your living room has transformed into the perfect holiday hangout. See URC’s line of home automation solutions at www.universalremote.com.
Finally, what better way to celebrate the season than with a classic movie? Handheld remotes have come a long way over the years in terms of features, functions, and style, turning them into the go-to device for accessing and controlling a wide range of entertainment content. Whether your favorite Yuletide flicks are stored on a media server, are on Blu-ray or are streamed from the internet, you’ll be able to find and enjoy them with ease—and even dim the lights or close the blinds as the movie begins. Check out the wide range of handheld remotes at URC on this page.
Digital Home Creations
With popular Nest thermostats, Lutron lighting and Sonos® whole-house music players, see how this URC professional integrator and a New York family made this 7,200 square-foot home both ultra-friendly and seriously smart. Featuring an awesome array of electronics, this system brings it all together yet is still a cinch to monitor, manage and control everything on demand. These homeowners are thrilled to enjoy simple finger swipe navigation to access all their lights, music in every room, temperature, security and more. They insisted on simplicity and they got it–even their guests can set any scene with ease in this unified, intelligent New York home.
Our new, feature-rich central controller has been out for just six months and has already won nearly every major technology and industry award. Honored with “Best of Show Awards for CEDIA 2015” from TWICE and from Residential Systems, and earning an “EXCITE Award” from Technology Integrator, the MRX-8 has changed the entry to home automation for everyone.
“When combined with our new TRC-820 Wi-Fi Remote, Total Control now presents an entirely new pricing tier never before seen in the whole-house control segment of the home automation world,” says Cat, Director of Marketing for URC.
At $599 US Retail for the MRX-8 with unlimited mobile apps, more of our customers can enjoy the finest in home automation that can be personalized. This offers more features-per-dollar than any other control product. Plus, customers can easily add to this base system as family needs grow and new technologies come available.
“I anticipate more awards in the future with the pace and precedent this little product has set in the market,” says Cat.
The newest URC Controller and Remote are now available for a dazzling holiday deal. Download the flyer here and call your URC pro before the promotion ends.
By Andre Lalande
GM Subscription Broadcast and Director of Alliances, URC
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
All the creatures were stirring, especially the mouse;
The Sonos®, Musikcast and HEOS music streamed with care,
Providing a rocking Christmas eve for all who were there;
The Total Control system managed them all,
While waves of music and lights danced down the hall;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just increased the volume for a good evening’s rap…
I’d continue the poem but would do injustice to the great Major Henry Livingston Jr. With that, hello to you and thank you for your readership of our holiday issue. My name is Andre Lalande and I’m General Manager of URC’s Subscription Broadcast Group and Director of Alliances.
For this special holiday issue, when families are gathering, I thought it appropriate to share a little inside scoop on our alliances and how companies get together to best serve you and your connected home.
At the close of this year, nothing seems more important than spending time with those we love. Besides the food (I’ll save that for a future article), music has been at the top of my entertaining list and I take pride in providing the best quality sound and tunes for all my house guests. I also take great pride in working with other manufacturers throughout the year to ensure URC systems work with the products and brands you love.
As alluded to in my introductory poem, URC’s Total Control smart home system now enables you to manage your Spotify™, Pandora™, and many other music service accounts from a variety of popular platforms including Sonos® and Autonomic. Just in time for gift-giving, we’ve also announced new compatibility with the renowned Denon HEOS and CasaTunes multi-room music systems. My week is full of work behind the scenes with our many partners so your smart home system can do all the things on your wish list this year.
As one example, from a simple button press on your remote or a swipe and touch on your URC touchscreen or mobile app, you can have access to thousands of streams of holiday music to fill your home with good tidings and cheer. If you can’t access the latest streaming audio service for your upcoming party, reach out to your URC Dealer (Santa) and request the upgrade to streaming audio. You and your holiday guests will be glad you did. I love it when people pass around my tablet and pick their favorite song! With support for thousands of products, URC solutions are continuously expanding to work with the latest electronics you own and love. Joyeux Noël!
“We needed to deliver a solution to some great elderly clients that, behind the scenes, was technologically advanced but from the customer-facing side would be extremely easy to operate. URC’s Total Control enabled us to do just that. This is the smart home system that has all the power but can be delivered in a way that anyone and everyone can use it.”
– Dave Gilbert, Senior VP
Audio Video Hi-Fi Sales
Best Total Control Install Winner Ryan Hills of Digital Home Creations with URC’s VP, Doug Cole.
From the US and Canada across the pond to the UK, it’s always great when we get a chance to look closely at the incredible homes and commercial spaces that our authorized URC integrators deliver to customers around the globe.
Recently at a major industry show we honored some of the best and brightest in our annual Integrator Awards known as The URC Unsurpassed. A panel of URC execs voted for top Total Control, International and Most Unique projects. Have a quick look at some of our winning Integrators and favorite spaces that have been made more comfy, convenient and better by automation! Congrats to all winners and their customers.
As you can see, it is important to select a trained technology pro just as you would for a custom sprinkler system or a new home renovation. To find a pro in your area, visit our locator.
Well, that may be a tiny exaggeration, but if you currently are using any of URC’s famous MX-series wireless remote products you can experience a whole new sensation of control—and power—by adding a new MX-990. Outfitted with a brilliant 2.4-inch color LCD screen and a slick design, the MX-990 features enhanced graphics capabilities which empower your authorized URC installer to create a beautifully customized layout just for you and just about in time to ring in the New Year!
Product available in early 2016.
This holiday season you’ll light the tree, see who’s at the front door and rock the halls with song and great spirit—all from the comfort of your sleigh—err—sofa! The large, colorful LCD is surrounded by six multipurpose buttons that put you in charge of everything. This new remote has it all—a terrific low price, rechargeable battery and Shortcuts you can set by yourself! It’s one touch to check to see if the kids got into the cookies or gifts early with Total Control.
The TRC-820 is a great choice to enjoy a best-in-class remote with the most value-driven, full-featured home automation system on the market.
Available now from your Authorized URC Total Control Dealer.
Hunkering down for the holidays? Now is when everyone likes to stay in, stay toasty and get connected. If you haven’t seen URC’s smart thermostat, now may be a good time to have a close look – as it delivers all of this and then some. The THZ-100 is one of our smallest, most colorful characters. When it’s connected to a Total Control system, you can warm up the entire house with a press or two on your smartphone – even if you’re at a neighbor’s house! This little present can also be controlled from our remotes and changes colors from green to red for a visual cue as temperature warms (not made to match Christmas décor, although that works also). The THZ-100 has the most advanced features you can find and offers password protection to keep the kids from cranking things down when you have guests! Sound warm and inviting? You bet!
Available now from your Authorized URC Total Control Dealer.
#5. Install a more modern kind of security system – one that won’t fall asleep on you. As you lay down to dream of yuletide desserts, press a button on your smartphone to instantly shut off all the lights, adjust temp down to 68 degrees and arm the security system. Voila!
#4. Using readily-available Z-Wave® door locks and URC, you can know exactly when the kids arrive home – from upstairs or even if you’re away at an office party. This can be your most important connection with your kids – especially if it’s after curfew!
#3. Add some Ambiance. Automate your holiday lighting inside or out. Press a button called Party time, and have the house lights adjust to preset levels you like to use to set the mood. Get a fresh look at whole-house lighting by visiting our Vivido® page or talking with a URC pro for your ideas.
#2. Magical times and magical movies. Our family loves to connect through entertainment. We dim the lights, Daddy makes popcorn and we fire up our favorite DVD. From a remote or smart device, anyone in the family can command movie night and make this a most memorable time for all.
#1. ‘Tis the time for holiday parties. With a home system, you can easily create holiday playlists to play through whole-house speakers or select specific rooms where you want different tunes. Crank it up while you cook, or get in the spirit with your favorite Pandora station streamed into the living room as you light candles. For decorating, dining and desserts – enjoy your own life’s soundtrack with a smart home system from URC.
Email the editor of Automated Living by URC: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out our website for the latest control solutions and additional ideas: www.universalremote.com.
Thank you to the many contributors for their amazing work efforts, research and writing including:
Director of Marketing
Director of Corporate Communications
Graphic and Web Designer
GM Subscription Broadcast and Director of Alliances
Runs With Scissors Graphics