When most people hire someone to install surveillance cameras into their home, they do it mainly for security purposes. Whether the cameras will be used to keep tabs on the residence while the family is on vacation or as a way to know when someone steps onto the property, they provide the valuable peace of mind that every homeowner craves.
While a sophisticated setup of high-end surveillance cameras was just one of many high-tech accouterments in this home, the 29 IC Realtime cameras provided the owners of the 14,000-square-foot home in Orange County, N.Y., with much more than a sense of security. Thanks to the engineering and design skills of Innerspace Electronics, Inc. (IEI), the cameras can function also as “virtual binoculars” capturing realtime, full-color, high-res outdoor images to display on the many wall-mounted iPads and TVs located throughout the house.
Explains IEI owner and president Barry Reiner: Each camera was strategically positioned to snap footage of the wildlife that frequents the two ponds in the backyard and the nature preserve along the perimeter of the 142-acre property. When an animal passes by a camera, its built-in motion sensor signals the home’s Savant automation system to activate every TV in the residence (eight total). The TVs tune automatically to a preset “wildlife station,” giving the owner a close-up view of the many deer, birds, squirrels, and other creatures.
If the owners happen to be already watching TV, the camera footage pops up in a picture-in-picture window. Most of the cameras are able to be panned, tilted, and zoomed in for a better look, and this happens remotely from commands issued by the owners from a Savant control app that IEI downloaded onto the homeowners’ many tablets and smartphones. One camera in particular, which is mounted on a 30-foot pole on what the homeowners refer to as Beaver Island, can spin on command from the Savant system to about a dozen preset positions.
When the cameras aren’t capturing high-res images of wildlife, they keep watch over the property, signaling the Savant system to notify the homeowners with a text message that a car has pulled into the driveway, a package was delivered at the front door, or when someone is strolling down a hallway. If the owners can’t get to the camera view right away, the footage is recorded automatically to a DVR for viewing later.
“This has become his favorite mode of entertainment,” says Reiner. “He’ll sit back and watch what’s happening around the property for the sheer enjoyment of it.”
Each piece of technology recommended to the homeowners by IEI would be uniquely designed with features that catered to their interests, hobbies and lifestyle.
“This project wasn’t our first stab at over-the-top customization, but it was definitely one of the most extensive and challenging,” says Reiner. It also helped that the homeowner was “extremely technical, curious, and innovative,” Reiner continues. “He wanted to do some really fun and challenging things with the Savant control system.”
One of the most daunting aspects, says Reiner, was the heating and cooling system, which combines forced air cooling with radiant floor heating into 15 independently controlled zones. To maximize the efficiency of these systems, IEI employed a communications protocol, BACnet, which is commonly used to monitor and control heating and cooling systems in large commercial settings, and integrated it into the Savant operating system. Forty-eight Triad Designer Series speakers and four Bowers & Wilkins subwoofers — enough to create 32 listening zones — blend invisibly into the walls as part of the extensive audio system. Not even the speaker grilles are detectable, as these speakers are designed to be skimmed over with drywall compound.
A tap of a few buttons on the Savant app activates the Fusion Ovation music system, cues the chosen music source, delivers the tunes to the selected audio zones, and sets the volume to a predetermined level. IEI installed several Ruckus wireless access points outdoors so that no matter where the homeowners roam, signals from the Savant smartphone or tablet app get to its companion processor, located in a specially constructed mechanical room, without a hitch. A solid, reliable wireless network was also crucial for streaming music directly from the owners’ iTunes library to the three Sonance Soniscape Landscape Series speaker systems outside. It’s just as easy to prepare the home’s extravagant lighting system for a special event.
The team at IEI seamlessly meshed a commercial lighting communications protocol with the residential Savant automation system. The integration of a DMX system enables the owners to launch elaborate displays of colored lighting without having to fiddle around with switches and dials on a commercial-style lighting console. Instead, they use a simple, straightforward menu presented to them by the Savant control app on the screens of their mobile devices or on the five wall-mounted iPads. Forty-one motorized Lutron Sivoia QS roller shades contribute to the home’s efficient operation.