Smart Homes: A Vision For the Future

One of the challenges of creating a truly smart home is that many of the products and systems don’t talk to one another. Tech companies are racing to find a solution. One firm, Intel Corp., is developing a platform to help make that connection. It has created an experimental “living lab” to test smart-home technologies and showcase what might be possible. The Santa Clara, California, company brought its “smart tiny home,” as it has dubbed the house, to San Francisco on November 2 to show it to the media and talk about what the firm is doing.





The tech company’s new platform is designed to link smart-home devices and sensors — along with older products that weren’t designed to be smart — so things such as security, lighting, appliances and HVAC could be controlled by a single interface.

“For the emerging smart-home market to succeed, it needs to conquer a lot of issues: connectivity, interoperability, user interaction, killer apps and security,” said Eric Free, vice president of Smart Homes and Buildings, in a statement. “Intel has the advantage of being able to work across this new connected universe, providing hardware, software and the power of the cloud to help transition our homes from ‘connected’ to ‘smart.’”

Intel’s Smart Home Development Acceleration Platform is due to be available to app developers in early 2016. New products would integrate the platform — which utilizes open standards such as the Open Interconnect Consortium — into their technology.

Above, Intel’s smart tiny home was temporarily displayed on a San Francisco property to demonstrate how some of the products might work.


Intel’s smart-tiny-home experience started at the front door, where a security camera tricked out with the company’s RealSense technology and True Key facial recognition software monitored comings and goings. Intel’s app was programmed to unlock the door for certain people and lock the door for everyone else. In your home, a smart-home app would send you an alert on your device when someone new was at the door; you could manually approve the person remotely.

Doors also could be locked and unlocked with voice commands. Martin Despain, director of Smart Home at Intel, demonstrated this at the San Francisco event, using the command, “Hey, computer, I’m leaving.” After a few seconds to allow for exiting the house, the deadbolt moved to secure the door.

Other security needs could be addressed with sound recognition technology as well. Intel’s demo app responded to the sound of breaking window glass with an alert.




On November 2, Intel also released the results of a survey it commissioned to study Americans’ attitudes about smart homes. It found that seven in 10 people expect smart homes to be as commonplace as smartphones in the next decade. Eight in 10 say integrated security is a priority and want a single sign-on portal where they can manage their home. A majority expect smart-home devices to be packaged with other services, such as cable and Internet (83 percent), and to be as easy to set up as cable TV (74 percent).


At Intel’s San Francisco demo, this tablet ran key features of Intel’s smart house. Using the app, Intel’s Despain controlled door locks, lighting, security and more.




Despain demonstrated how a smart home could detect water leaks in the home using this off-the-shelf moisture sensor. He placed the sensor in a plate of water, and an alert popped up on his tablet. The app provided a list of recommended plumbers, which could be let into the house remotely using the smart home’s camera and security system.



He also used voice recognition software to turn on and off smart lightbulbs from three makers — Philips Hue, Cree and Osram — which work together with the help of Intel’s software development kit. He showed how they also could be controlled with an app on the tablet.




Intel’s smart house also showcased some ideas for tiny-home design. Kyle Schuneman, who specializes in small-space design, put together the interiors. To make the most of the 210-square-foot space, he included versatile features that do double duty. Above, the dining table could work as both a kitchen island and a dining table, and the area under the banquette seat stores a water heater. In the previous photo, a home office sits on a platform that houses a queen-size trundle bed.



Organized From the Start: 8 Smart Systems for Your New House

When it comes to clutter and organizing, so often we start looking for solutions only once things have gotten completely out of hand. But if you’re moving into a new place, why not take this as an opportunity to do things right from the get-go? By putting these eight organizing systems in place at the beginning, it’ll be easier to keep things organized for the long term.

11 Reasons to paint your Ceiling Black

I grew up believing that ceilings had to be white — or, at the very least, a paler version of the wall color. Black ceilings? It sounded like something only a rebellious teenager would do.

But after perusing some of the ebony-colored ceilings on Houzz, I gotta confess that I’m a convert. Black ceilings can hide a multitude of sins, call attention to something you want to emphasize or instill a touch of drama. (Let’s see ol’ Navajo White try to pull off some of those tricks.)

If the little black dress is the ne plus ultra of fashion, then the little black ceiling is the enfant terrible of decor — a mischievous little devil that provokes instead of placates, and makes any room a little bit special.

Here are 11 reasons to consider painting your ceiling black.

So You Want to Build a New Home…..

Whether building new or renovating an existing structure, creating a new home is a journey of discovering who you are, what you want, how you want to live and where you want to be. It’s a chance for you to define your relationship to the world, to your family and to yourself. Creating a home is more than building “3 bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms.” It is so much more than the sum of a few parts.

As with any journey, you’ll want to do some research and plan your trip. You’ll want to have a sense of what the end result should be and how much it’ll cost. And while you’ll no doubt be able to go it alone, having a seasoned and experienced guide show you the way will likely mean a more enjoyable, more enriching and overall better journey.

Let’s look at the steps, in chronological order, involved in creating a home.

Try A Broken Plan

This modern spin on open-plan living offers greater privacy while retaining a sense of flow

Open-plan living has been one of the biggest trends in our homes in recent decades. Indeed, knocking down walls can create a sense of space, light, sociability and fluidity that many of us love. But open-plan layouts can reduce privacy and quiet spots, as well as useful walls against which to place furniture. You may also struggle to ignore that pile of dishes you see out of the corner of your eye during TV binges on the sofa (at least with a wall between you and the kitchen, you can pretend it isn’t there). Welcome, then, to a slow, steady move toward a compromise: broken-plan living. But what exactly is it?
Special Thanks to  Houzz Contributor

Work That Square Footage

Dreamy Poolside Retreats



As the temperature creeps toward 90 degrees Fahrenheit today, I am dreaming of being able doing the Nestea plunge in a pool in my own backyard. As the dream expands, I imagine a beautifully appointed pool house where I can settle among pillows covered in Trina Turk fabric in my bathing suit and stylish Tory Burch tunic (I don’t actually own either), grab some unsweet tea from the wet bar and write my ideabooks while I cool off.

Alas, it’s just a sweltering day’s daydream, but cruising through the beautiful pool houses on Houzz helps enhance it. Whether you’re planning to make your pool plans come to fruition or just want to join me in the dream, I hope these six diverse pool houses will cool you off and take you away for a few minutes today.

Get Your Home in a Summer Mood

Character and Charm

On a walk through any town in Britain and many in the U.S. and elsewhere, you could encounter homes from the Georgian, Tudor and Edwardian eras, to name just three. It can often be difficult to distinguish one period from another. Victorian architecture makes up a large proportion of those buildings. Here’s how to distinguish Victorian homes from the rest, and the design elements that make up their distinctive style today.

Farmhouse Architecture Transcends Time


“Farmhouse” may imply a casual and informal home style, but farmhouse architecture developed through astute observation of details and an appreciation of pure form. As a homage to regional building techniques, farm structures and folk interpretations of pre-railroad, national and Victorian styles, this American vernacular style has garnered steady admiration and has been replicated since the 1930s. Today’s farmhouses can be and feel traditional or modern through the expression of their materials. What sets this style apart from other home styles is that it always pays tribute to local precedent and interprets those qualities in a minimalist fashion. Here are some of its elements and expressions.

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