If you tried to future-proof your house 10 years ago with all the smart-house technology available, you might be “sitting on a dinosaur”, says architect Simon Novak.
like the ancient computers of the turn of the century, the electronic bits and pieces that looked like the latest thing in house-control have dated.
The whole definition of the “intelligent” house is being widely debated, says Novak. it goes far beyond sour-milk- detecting refrigerators and dust-sensing vacuum cleaners – and the wired home-helps that were once revolutionary.
“A smart house isn’t just electronic gadgets. I have hesitation to build inflexible gadgetry into houses because it’s more intelligent than what it was but it’s a fast-growing area. One of the issues is the cost and the benefit at the end of the day. Building is an expensive business and it can be seen as the cherry on the top.”
Novak, of Wellington’s Novak and Middleton, has designed houses as electronically sophisticated as any but his focus is on “the fundamental, basic stuff you need anyway and has a greater impact on the performance of the house”. he favours, first and foremost, along with style, things like energy efficiency, using the cheap warmth of the sun and environmental friendliness – “the sort of things that have traditionally been talked about as being green”.
But what’s the solution if the householder lusts after boys’ toys and wants something more than a garage door that opens at button-press – like a gadget that pulls the blinds when the sun comes up and turns off the watering system when the skies have opened, or allows the lights and the heating to be remotely turned on and off.
it can be done, and the future, says Novak, will be in wireless systems, obviating the need for kilometres of cable.
The Fibaro system is one such wireless system about to be launched in new Zealand. It’s new, impressive and flexible, dreamed up by a 30-something Polish techno- whiz who couldn’t find exactly what he wanted by way of keeping the house in line.
he wanted to do at the touch of a smartphone everything that once required fiddling with a switch or two, and he wanted to be able to do it from wherever he was, all without ripping his house apart to enable installation.
Fibaro’s big advantage, says Johnny Corry – based in Auckland and responsible for business development and strategy – is that you don’t need to be building or renovating to install it.
it relies on “Z-Wave” radio frequency and uses micro modules to control what the homeowner previously had to do by hand, like pressing buttons or getting up to pull the curtains.
with iPad apps, home- adjustments can be done from afar – closing things, turning things off. Forgot to switch off the iron? Turn it off by magic and smartphone. Left a window open? Your intelligent housemate will remind you.
this is not laziness, says Corry. “It’s luxury. . . Our devices take what you have and make it automatic.”
Each device is installed independently and connected to the system, and it can all be removed when the homeowner moves on.
“You don’t need new fittings and light fittings. If you have dimmable bulbs you can make them function from your mobile phone.”
Corry says wireless is the way of the future, “because it’s not necessary to rip down walls and modules can be built to a budget”.
Corry believes the system is the most advanced in new Zealand and, because it is expanded by software, “it’s future-proof”.
Time will tell.
Meanwhile, Novak says the real question is “how are we best served going into the future”. in the way of home automation, that will certainly be wireless, he agrees, and control via mobile phone.
he perceives more intelligent thinking around energy consumption and controlling energy loss “and the need to use the cheapest energy source available, which at the end of the day is the sun”.
Novak and Middleton has just completed its first domestic wind turbine, which produces enough electricity to run a Seatoun house and puts power back into the national grid.
“It’s very much intelligent thinking forward to the future to want your house to generate its own power. The definition of an intelligent house is changing. It’s all about future needs, not fancy gadgets.
“At the heart of it is people being much more interested in energy.”
The future ideal, he says, will be for houses to be standalone in energy terms. “Intelligent houses have an intelligent selection of materials in terms of life cycle, costs and maintenance. There’s a swing back to timber, something we produce in new Zealand, on the back of the Christchurch earthquake.
“Gadgetry deals with smaller issues. we have to think what the really big issues are – energy consumption, use and longevity of materials and minimal effect on the environment.
“In the future minimising your energy footprint will be supremely important and houses will also be generators of energy.”
he believes within 20 years new houses will be built with this capacity and old houses will be retro-fitted to conform.
“Smart homes have a minimal effect on the environment and a very smart home contributes in a positive way. There’s a whole world out there. it affects everyone.”
– © Fairfax NZ News
There are way more systems than what is published in this article, that are offered in NZ. For example, there is no mention of Control4 or Savant, both of which are internationally renowned brands. I do agree about the limited lifetime of proprietary hardware and cabling though
OK here’s another news item on these issues, but not having a laptop, broadband, wifi, or xbox, some of this article confuses me.
It seems a pity that Prime won’t be part of freeview, and the amount of set top boxes in the pipeline makes me wonder if it’s best to wait a while to buy into anything. maybe better to wait to see how everything shakes down first.
And this article also mentions throng – msut mean Tui’s review of TVNZ ondemand service:
Peter Griffin: Exciting do-it-yourself alternatives to pay TV5:00AM Thursday March 08, 2007By Peter Griffin
It’s based on obsolete technology and won’t deliver much more than what’s available now, but I’m excited all the same about the arrival of Freeview. That’s because it’s aimed squarely at people like me. I’m not a Sky subscriber.
Like many people living in Wellington, I have fuzzy television reception. best of all, the previous occupants of my house were Sky subscribers, so I can plug a Freeview box into the wall and use that same dish to cheaply solve my reception problems. Sounds like a good deal.
If TVNZ can come up with a reasonable 24-hour news channel and feature some interesting content on their new TVNZ3 channel, I’ll be sticking with free-to-air TV. That doesn’t mean I’m not tempted by the dozens of channels Sky has on offer. I really miss the History Channel, Discovery, CNN and the BBC.
But this year will see a proliferation of the entertainment options available to us in the living room, making a mix of free-to-air TV and emerging video-on-demand type services potentially compelling alternatives to a pay TV subscription.
I already use the Wi-Fi connection on my Xbox360 console in the lounge to receive video streamed from the computer in my bedroom.
Microsoft launched movie and TV series downloads through its Xbox Live platform last year and in January unveiled its IPTV (internet protocol television) play, which will deliver numerous TV channels to Xbox consoles via the user’s broadband connections.
Microsoft has regional ambitions for IPTV which could see it partner new Zealand content providers to offer a video-on-demand service.
A logical partner would be TVNZ, which this month launches its own video-on-demand service allowing you to pay with your credit card to download programmes which are playable for up to seven days after download. a good preview of how the system will work is available at www.throng.co.nz.
Throw into the mix the PlayStation 3, which lands here on March 23 and, like the Xbox360, comes fitted with an ethernet port to connect you to the internet. the PS3 has its own online platform, which at this stage allows mainly for downloads of movie trailers and arcade games.
But Sony is a big player in the film and TV space, and with its stated aim of making the PS3 the digital hub of the living room is likely to move swiftly to make an IPTV or video-on-demand play as well as offering movies on Blu-ray disc in the high-definition format.
That internet browser included with the PS3 could also serve quite well to play on your TV screen content from the likes of YouTube, which has just struck a content deal with the BBC, and maybe from Joost, the new peer-to-peer internet TV service being developed by the guys behind Kazaa and Skype. There’s enough going on among internet players to make do-it-yourself TV realistic.
Add to the mix internet provider Orcon’s IPTV, internet and phone bundle to be released by mid-year, the movie download tie-up that the Seven Network brings to the new YahooXtra website partnership with Telecom and Sky’s own planned IPTV service, and the entertainment options become even more numerous.
What it comes down to is making the choice between paying one fee for a range of channels Sky thinks you like or going online to pick and choose your content from various sources and relying on Freeview as your bog standard TV platform.
Such alternatives to straight pay-TV services are already the norm for Americans, who have the benefit of being connected to high-speed cable networks that make playing video in real time and downloading movies fairly painless.
The poor state of residential broadband here, the data download caps on low and mid-priced internet plans and the low penetration of flat-screen TVs mean Sky’s decoder will remain the dominant gateway into the lounge for at least the next two years.
But getting back to Freeview. What would make it an even more convincing purchase would be the inclusion in the line-up of Prime TV, the free-to-air channel Sky bought last year for $30 million. I can barely see Prime because my reception is so bad, but I love top Gear and a few other Prime programmes.
Sky hasn’t ruled out joining the Freeview camp, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely. Adding Prime would make Freeview just that bit too attractive and could lead a good number of Sky customers to cancel their subscriptions, knowing that they’ll be able to use the dish already on their roof to pick up Freeview.
Sky is already a bit of an anomaly as a pay TV operator that owns a free-to-air channel.
In Britain, Sky’s channels are available on the similar but unrelated Freeview platform available there. but the satellite TV operator says it will remove its Sky Three, Sky News and Sky Sports News channels from Freeview and create its own terrestrial pay TV service – adding yet another set-top box to the mix. We’ll all have some box buying decisions to make in the near future.
For me it will be a Freeview box to go along with my Xbox 360, with internet downloads to my computer filling in the gaps
It may not be music to the ears of diehard Phoenix fans but new chairman Rob Morrison does not believe the club should aim to win the A-League every year.
Rather, Morrison believes the Wellington side should focus on trying to reach the play-offs each season, as it is simply not affordable to fund a title-chasing squad year on year.
his theory might be unpopular among Yellow Fever-ites but Morrison, who is also CEO of Kiwibank among an impressive business portfolio, is a long-time student of the science of sporting economics.
“I’d like to see the Phoenix be a self-sustaining, profitable club,” Morrison told the Herald on Sunday. “You can’t build a team or invest profitably in a franchise that is actually going to win a competition every year.
“We are not going to spend money to try and win the [A-League] every year. that is not a self-sustaining model.
“We want to build a squad that is capable of challenging for it every year – but it won’t just be about spending the most money.”
Morrison cites the examples of the Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane Roar as ones to follow. he points out that both teams, who have been consistent performers over the past few seasons, are spending “at or within their salary cap and a lot less – probably 50 per cent less – than the Melbourne Victory or Sydney FC spend.
“We are going to develop and spend sensibly so we have a really competitive squad capable of getting to the play-offs every year and, once there, you are then capable of going on to win it. But it won’t happen every year and we are not going to spend money that way.”
Morrison also uses examples from baseball, many cited in the 2003 book Moneyball (since made into a movie starring Brad Pitt) to illustrate the differing approaches to running a professional sports organisation.
“The New York Yankees pay for a squad that is capable of winning the World Series every year; they pay salaries based on trying to win it every year but obviously they don’t and over the last decade they haven’t.
“In contrast, the Oakland as work on the basis that their squad should be capable of getting to the play-offs then it is up to the vagaries of the play-off system. They have consistently run with the lowest or second lowest salary cap in the MLB but at one point had made the play-offs more times than any other team except the Yankees.”
Despite a severely limited budget, the Oakland as made the play-offs five times between 2000 and 2006. The Yankees made the play-offs every year during that period but have won just one World Series since 2001.
“When you get to the play-offs it comes down to knock-out games, different variables and different pressures; you need to fund a team that is capable of making the play-offs and of course you absolutely want to win it. The distinction is whether you try to give yourself more of a cast-iron guarantee that you will win it.
“The Yankees, and teams like Chelsea and Manchester City, say that if we spend enough money, we will win it more times than we don’t – but it is not a sustainable model. those models rely on a mega-rich benefactor who is happy to lose plenty and they are clubs that often lose money.”
one issue with the comparison with England, and especially the US, is that fans in those countries can be loyal to their clubs almost regardless of the results. The best example is the Chicago Cubs, famously still waiting to win a World Series after more than a century but their tickets remain in hot demand. Leeds, Norwich and Brighton are recent British examples of clubs that have maintained a good following despite a series of poor results.
Kiwis, in contrast, tend to be ‘sunshine supporters'; there is less of a concept of following your team and more of an inclination toward supporting winners.
Morrison’s core principles at the Phoenix centre around turning the franchise into a successful, sound business off the field as well as a good team on it.
“There is a relatively common view [in New Zealand] that you can’t run professional sports organisations as businesses. Our view is that you have to run them as a business in order to be sustainable. We don’t want to be a Leeds United or a Portsmouth.”
“I think at times we are a little bit dewy-eyed about our sports [here] and don’t understand the need to have good structures in place, be business-oriented and ensure that you spend what you earn.”
After the financial uncertainty of the past two seasons, Morrison and the Welnix consortium have recently finalised the budgets for the rest of the season. They are also not far away from appointing an operational board and have put a five year plan in place.
They have begun the search for assistant and goalkeeping coaches for next season and will increase investment in sports science and sport medicine. Coach Ricki Herbert has also identified players to be targeted for the January window and beyond.
“We need to look at strengthening the squad in various places. Some of that may happen this month but certainly we are mainly looking towards the start of the next season.”
a key plank of the five year plan is additional Phoenix teams – Morrison believes it is not sustainable long term to be a one-team club. he hopes to have a feeder team up and running by next season, playing against domestic teams, much like the ASB Challenge series that was run last season. Morrison is confident an extended academy system can be put in place over the next few years and he would also like to see a women’s side playing under the Phoenix banner by 2016.
There have been concerns that operationally Welnix could be unwieldly, with the nine owners all wanting a say before a decision is made but Morrison dismisses that.
“My background, along with the others, is one where you had to make lots of big decisions, sometimes involving very large sums of money, quickly. I don’t think there is any issue around that.”
a lifelong Liverpool fan, Morrison’s playing involvement extends to social football with Miramar, while he has also coached his daughter’s school team. But he does ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to sporting endeavours, having completed the Coast to Coast and, late last year, a gruelling 210km adventure race in Nepal.
By Malcolm Burgess | Email Malcolm
Mariners 2Phoenix 1
Former Phoenix player Troy Hearfield came back to haunt his old team-mates as he delivered the cross that led to the match-winning goal as the Central Coast Mariners claimed a 2-1 win in Wellington.
Hearfield’s direct pass found the boot of Mariners striker Matt Simon, who tapped home from close range in the 81st minute to give the Australians a 2-1 victory.
Wellington tried their best during the final minutes to pull another goal back, but ultimately they were defeated by the same scoreline they lost to the Melbourne Victory by last weekend.
it marked the third consecutive week they had lost by only one goal.
Down on troops heading in to the game, the Phoenix were without regular centre back Ben Sigmund, who was suspended following his red card against the Victory.
Brent Griffiths, who was making his first start for the club after previously playing for the Perth Glory in the A-League, partnered Andrew Durante in defence and got through plenty of work.
Also missing for the Phoenix were Paul Ifill, Mirjan Pavlovic, Jimmy Downey, Vince Lia and Lucas Pantelis.
Herbert was forced to work with the bare minimum of 15 players for the game and the bench of Nicky Ward, Nikolas Tsattalios, Cameron Lindsay and goalkeeper mark Paston didn’t provide a lot of depth.
Central Coast came in to the game on the back of a 2-1 victory over Perth last week, which had ignited their season that had failed to get going during the first three weeks.
the first half didn’t offer any highlights as both sides failed to assert their dominance on the game; chances were few and far between although Central Coast looked the more likely outfit.
They broke the deadlock early in the second half when Mariners striker Bernie Ibini latched on to a teasing cross from Simon and the forward managed to squeeze the ball under Phoenix custodian Tony Warner.
Ward entered the game in the 66th minute for hometown hero Leo Bertos and provided immediate impetus as the Phoenix sprung in to life and got on the scoreboard through Greenacre.
Manny Muscat returned from his one week suspension at right back in place of Tsattalios and looked dangerous throughout the game and was busy going forward but couldn’t produce any late magic.
A windy Westpac Stadium made life tough for both teams as the keepers struggled with their goal kicks in to some stiff gusts.
as always the Yellow Fever supporters group were full of voice, but the fans were down on numbers with only 5090 in attendance, which could have been due to the cool weather or the rare Friday night game time.
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 2 (Bernie Ibini-Isei 48m, Matt Simon 81m) bt WELLINGTON PHOENIX 1 (Chris Greenacre 69m) at Westpac Stadium. Referee: Gerard Parsons.