Home Is Where the Tablet Is
Savant Systems' home-automation system offers sensible controls via iPads and iPhones.
For the "home of tomorrow," the future never seems to arrive. Some of the visions have been fatally Jetsonian, complete with landing docks for flying cars. Some have been pure overkill—think wall-sized 3-D screens that drop from the ceiling. Many came and went like smoke from Hugh Hefner's pipe: A single button would summon a wet bar from behind the wall, dim the lights and cue Sinatra.
So I was surprised by Savant Systems' showcase home in lower Manhattan. Covering 8,000 square feet of a former sewing-machine factory, it's sensible, comfortable and amazingly easy to operate, thanks to a "brain" fashioned from an Apple Mac Mini and controls worked by iPhones or iPads. With an iPad in hand, I tapped into the Savant-designed app to find a slew of colored icons controlling lights, security, temperature, video and music.
The lighting alone was worth the visit. Tap the lighting control and up comes a tray displaying photos of your home. Then, you simply touch the lamp or fixture in the photo to turn it on or off. To dim or brighten, just slide a finger down or up.
It was loads of fun brightening my path around the living room, bar, kitchen and home theater. It almost tricked me into thinking I could darken a room with a pointed glance.
In essence, the light switches on the wall are now all in one handy place. You'll never again have to holler at the kids to turn off the lights. Better yet, you can adjust the lights—or the thermostat or the security system—from the road with your iPad.
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