Don’t Touch!

If there’s something to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that we should be minimising contact with surfaces; including light switches, and other common devices.

Since the development of the first usable light bulb in the late 1800s, we have become used to switching lights on and off when we need to. We take these simple, ubiquitous touch points for granted, being an everyday interaction in our lives.

Some research suggests that the virus can survive on plastic and metal surfaces for up to three days. Some types of switches need special attention and care with how they are cleaned. Even if regularly cleaned, it’s an inconvenience that can be avoided.

A modern home should use technology effectively to automate everyday functions, without the need for manual interaction.

We should be able to move through the spaces of the home, with it reacting to our movement and presence, automatically turning on lights and other devices when they are really needed.

With today’s technologies, switch interaction can be absolutely minimised. Once you experience the amazing convenience of a modern home, your lifestyle will be forever changed; and you will never look back.

Smarter Homes Podcast

I am pleased to announce my Smarter Homes Podcast that can be found on Apple Podcasts.

With the evolving world of technology, our homes need to be connected more than ever. Homeowners and residents are faced with many choices and decisions, and numerous technology products and systems. For many, it can be a minefield of electronic complexity and technological confusion, that somehow needs to be embraced – but how? Well, that’s what this podcast is all about… making homes AMAZING!

Good morning


Your alarm clock peacefully wakes you up at 5am. As you remove the bed covers, and your feet touch the floor, a suptle glow of light illuminates your path to the bathroom and robe, allowing you to change into your gym clothes in an unobtrusive, dimmed light.

While you’re getting changed, the automated pet feeder releases fifty grams of dry food for your cat’s breakfast. As you leave for the gym, your front door automatically unlocks, and securely locks silently closes behind you.

After a high-intensity work out, you arrive back home, just after sunrise. The front door automatically unlocks, and you are greeted by your satisfied cats. A soft glow of sunlight bathes the room through the sheer drapes, as the heavier, block-out curtains magically part.

As you enter the bathroom, the shower knowingly turns on to a refreshing thirty degrees, at just the right pressure to sooth your body. The radio softly plays, updating you with the seven o’clock news. Steam is queitly extracted by the overhead fan keeping the mirror condensation free.

As you turn off the shower, and dry off, robe space and shelves illuminate, helping you select your outfit for the day. Over the sounds of the radio, you hear the grinding of coffee beans, as your coffee machine prepares the ideal latte to kick start your day.

Walking into the kitchen and living room, the sheer window drapes automatically open to reveal a glorious morning. The radio is seamlessly transferred from the bathroom to the kitchen, and your home maintains a comfortable 22 degrees as you enjoy your morning coffee.

After breakfast, you gather your work belongings to leave home, saying goodbye to the cats, with the door quietly closing and locking behind you.

Everything just happens, integrating seamless with your lifestyle to start your day.

What is a smart home?

The words ‘Smart Home’ (sometimes known as home automation, intelligent home etc.), gets mentioned a lot, and can be confusing for many.

I avoid using ‘smart home’ (or variations of), as it often implies the addition of unnecessary, complicated, cumbersome electronic technology solutions, that might require a rocket science degree to operate, and an unlimited financial budget to implement.

All homes have the ability to be smart, on different levels. Keeping in mind that technology doesn’t neccessarily have to be electronic, houses have evolved to incorporate various technologies, and have become more electronic as our awareness to have them better connected to ourselves and the outside world is realised.

All homes have multiple services and utilities; electricity, gas, water, security, television, internet, etc. that can be integarted and connected to be provide better comfort, convenience, security, and energy efficiency.

Imagine your home being customised based on what you are doing at particular times of the day: Lighting automatically dims to provide a relaxing ambience at night, or becomes brighter for dedicated tasks. Heating and cooling automatically turns on and adjusts to the optimal temperature. Your home can automatically adapt to make your living environment more comfortable.

We are very predictable in our daily lives – from when we wake up, exercise, go to work, return home, eat, relax, and sleep. Many systems in and around the home can be automated, based on our daily routines: Blinds and curtains can open at sunrise, and close at night, or close when it’s too bright or too hot. Lights can turn on when you arrive home at night, or turn off when a room is vacant or nobody is home, providing new levels of convenience.

The security and safety of your home, family, and property can be greatly enhanced. Outdoor lighting can automatically illuminate your property to deter unwanted activity, and turn on at night when there is movement. Keyless entry frees you from fumbling for keys when you come home, with automated lighting illuminating your home. Video cameras can not only record, but provide personal alerts to notify you in real time when there is irregular activity, even when you are not at home.

A home can know exactly when it is day and night, summer and winter, or when it is occupied. Power and lights can automatically turn on and off, and adjust to the optimal brightness, only when needed. Heating and cooling self-adjusts to maintain ideal comfort levels. Your home’s energy usage can be optimised to incorporate alternate energy such as solar, battery storage, and electric vehicle charging. Controlling power improves energy efficiency – saving money, and reducing carbon footprints.

By definition, a home that is smart or intelligent, can change it’s state in response to various situations. With many homes already having various technology products and systems, the benefits of having the right technologies integrated can be easily realised, to seamlessly connect our homes and lifestyle.

With developments in artifical intelligence and machine learning, we are getting closer to having technologies learn and respond, based on our habits, routines, and past experiences. For our homes, this will be the next exciting step to improve our lifestyle.

In the same way that cars evolved to incorporate electronic technologies, similarly, houses will follow. Electric windows, automated heating and cooling, handsfree communication, and improved vehicle safety are examples that are so common that they are now standard in modern cars.

Features and benefits of home and lifestyle technologies are endless, as they can be customised for your lifestyle. With the right advice, technology can greatly benefit our lifestyle, with improvements in comfort, convenience, security, energy efficiency.

My nightstand

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”] [et_pb_row admin_label=”row”] [et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”] My nightstand provides the right amount of technology to allow me to settle in for the night, go to sleep, and wake up in the morning. Amazon Echo Spot Even without the Spot’s ability to control smart home products and systems, it is the perfect bedside clock. The compact form factor is attractive and unlike other ‘smart speakers’ by providing a functional solution that combines multiple products. The customisable display can automatically dim depending on the level of ambient light. The white clock face indicators even change to red to be more comfortable to read in the dark. The display shows local weather and other information when required. Like other similar products, including others in the Echo range, the Spot can play music (Spotify and Amazon Music), and digital radio (iHeart and Tune-In). Amazon has a large collection of ‘Skills’ that can be downloaded directly to the Spot, including a range of sleep sounds to aid going to sleep. Philips Hue Go Although the Hue Go can be operated as a standalone lamp, it is best utilised as part of the Philips Hue smart lighting ecosystem. As with other Hue products, the Hue Go provides Hue white and colour ambiance, meaning it can change colour and colour temperature. Unlike a typical bed lamp, the Hue Go is designed to provide a soft direct glow, or an indirect wall wash of light. It is best used to provide ambiance and atmosphere rather than as a task light for say, reading. The Hue Go is fully compatible with all voice control systems (Apple Homekit, Google Home, Amazon Echo) allowing it to be controlled as an individual lamp, or as part of a routine or scene. The Philips Hue range is the best smart lighting solution, providing a wide range of luminaries and accessories. The Hue system is very mature and reliable – it just works. Belkin BoostUp The Belkin BoostUp is a wireless pad charger compatible with Qi enabled devices. This model has been optimised for the Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X, and comes with an AC adapter wall plug (most others don’t). This model of BoostUp, provides a 7.5W output that is higher than the typical 5W output of most wireless pads, allowing faster charging. Whilst it is not as fast as a higher specification 10W+ plug in charger and cable (used for charging iPads etc.), the convenience of a wireless charging pad outweighs speed, which is irrelevant if charging overnight. Wireless phone charging is very convenient – just sit your phone onto the charging pad. No need to plugging in a cable. Once you have wireless charging, you will be reluctant to go back to a plugging in a traditional charging cable. Until Apple releases their own wireless charging pad, this is one of the better ones currently available. You will never be able to have enough of these charging pads around the home and office. Apple iPhone X The iPhone X is Apple’s flagship and best phone. It is a ground-breaking phone that contains many technologies that will be implemented into future device. The iPhone X (and iPhone 8 series) provides a truely wireless user experience, including charging, using products like the Belkin BoostUp. As with the previous iPhone 7 , the iPhone X does not have a traditional, old-fashioned 3.5mm headphone jack. We have had a couple of years to get over the headphone jack, and have not needed to look back. The wireless experience is made better with products like the Apple AirPods, that are amazing. Apple Watch 3 The Apple Watch is the best and most complete smart watch available. It fits into the Apple ecosystem perfectly. The Series 3 range if very fast, and can operate as an independent device, rather than needing to be tethered to your phone. The only negative for the Apple Watch is its battery, that still needs to be charged daily, typically overnight. The battery and charging needs, limits the Apple Watch’s ability to effectively monitor sleep, for which Apple does not have a native application that integrates with Apple HealthKit. Fast becoming a ubiquitous watch, there is a wide range of offical Apple Watch bands, third-party bands, and other charging and mounting accessories. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite A product missing from my nightstand is my Amazon Kindle E-reader. Kindle is the best eBook reader with the widest range of books and the easiest purchasing experience.    [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column] [/et_pb_row] [/et_pb_section]

Why the Apple iPhone X matters to smart homes

With the recent release of the new Apple iPhone X, almost two months ago, critics once again condemned Apple for being late to the market, re-hashing existing technologies etc. As usual, many Apple critics just don’t get it – being more focused on features and specifications rather than the user experience – Apple is all about the user experience.

For many, the iPhone X, on the surface looks fairly meek and mild, but in reality is quite groundbreaking the future of smart homes. There are a few noticeable features that stand out for me, that will have an impact on future smart homes: TrueDepth camera, Face ID, Augmented Reality and wireless charging.

Apple’s TrueDepth camera is integral to many of the standout features of the iPhone X. The camera system comprises of many components that allows it to process 3D models for Face ID, Animojis, advanced camera modes that use computational processing, and augmented reality (AR). The advanced technology of TrueDepth camera can detect the position, topology, and expression of the user’s face, all with high accuracy and in real time.

Face ID is the iPhone X’s primary security interface that replaces Touch ID. Face ID uses a system of advanced camera, dot projector, processor and Apple’s Secure Enclave. Unlike other systems, all saved facial information is securely protected and processed within the actual iPhone handset, rather than sending the information to the cloud for processing. As the user continuesly uses Face ID, the system is constantly adapting to physical changes in appearance.

Together with iOS 11 and Apple’s new gyroscopes and accelerometers, the TrueDepth camera introduces a new Augmented Reality framework – ARKit, that allows developers to easily create unparalleled augmented reality experiences. By blending digital objects and information with the environment around you, the ARKit framework will take apps beyond the screen, freeing them to interact with the real world in entirely new ways. The TrueDepth camera

Apple’s implementation of wireless charging is not necessarily new, or even ground breaking, but does represent the provision of a truely wireless solution. Apple will quickly implement wireless charging into other mobile devices and accessories that will be rapidly accepted Apple users and will become the new normal.

So, how do and how will these iPhone X technologies affect the smart home market?

As we move away from manually interacting with touch screen user interfaces, and with ambient computing becoming more ubiquitous in everyday products and systems, other methods of interacting with technology will become the new normal. We are already seeing voice control being more prominent, but do not have a high level of intelligence to benefit it, just yet.

The implementation of various sensors is a key requirement for any smart home. Unfortunately sensors themselves are not very intelligent – they require appropriate processing and programming to make them functional. In the future sensors will be able to accurately detect homeowners and residents using similar technologies as the TrueDepth camera system.

Access control systems by way of security cameras and door station intercoms may also implement advanced camera systems to accurately allow keyless and device free access into the home, and be able to identify users and intruders.

Until the challenges of limited battery life are solved, manufacturers need to maximise the user experience of powering devices and other products. As wireless charging becomes more popular, charging pads will be provided in everyday applications allowing users to top up their devices without the fear of being security compromised by plugging in a cable that could also access information on their device.


The Apple iPhone X is a groundbreaking device that provides a new user interface and a decisive move towards a new user experience that is easily accepted. Other companies need to have the courage to challenge the status quo, to provide better user experiences. Apple do this continuously – recently with the removal of the traditional headphone socket, that has not been missed, and most recently, the removal of the home button and Touch ID being replaced with Face ID and new swipe gestures that quickly became so natural.

Smart home products and systems will eventually implement technologies similar to the iPhone X, but needs to do so in a way that doesn’t create fragmentation, to provide the best user experience. A smart home needs to not only provide optimal form and function of the technology products and systems, but also needs to consider the architectural form and function of the home, and the lifestyle of the homeowner and residents.


Why I’m a Mac

I see much of my technology as a ubiquitous, symbiotic system, and believe Apple provides the best ecosystem for me.

My mobile devices; iPhones (yes, my family and I have multiple), iPads (yes, multiple of those as well), Apple Watch, and MacBooks (multiple of those too) are all connected by iCloud. Rather than each being a separate device, they are all really just connected user interfaces in a greater system.

I can pick up my work on any device from anywhere at anytime, and it is automatically synced and kept up-to-date. Photos are automatically synced to my main Photo library where they are saved and ‘pushed’ to my other devices. I can easily and quickly move larger files between devices with AirDrop. Messages can be sent and received with attachments to and from any device. These are just some examples of the many benefits that work for me.

My non-Apple electronic products are selected for their ability to seamlessly fit into my expanding symbiotic system to provide an encompassing total solution.

I appreciate and value good design – Apple cares about design. Apple will challenge the status quo to provide a better way, a more efficient way. Design is much more than what a product looks and feels like, it’s how it works, and the experience it provides.

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, “Make it look good!” That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

Many consumers get tied up with features and specifications, and look to products that have the most features and the highest specifications, rather than understanding and considering the total user experience.

For me, everything just works – like it has for many years, and provides a seamless and satisfying user experience.

* I’m a Mac refers to Apple’s Get a Mac campaign that featured the infamous “Hello, I’m a Mac” television advertisements from 2006-2009.

Designing integrated future-ready homes

As the demand for home technology continues to grow, one consideration is becoming increasingly important: homeowners should be looking to merge home technology systems into the design of their homes. This may include electronic and technology system such as; electrical, lighting control, safety, access control, heating and cooling, entertainment, and more.

I specialise in the design and specification of home technology systems, and facilitate the installation, and commissioning of them. I take a fresh, client first approach an independent advisor. I work solely for the homeowner and designers to help them navigate through every step of the technology integration process, including the appointment of the right solution provider. I make sure everything is done to achieve the best possible outcome, and user experience.

I am a proud member of the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA), and as a CEDIA Certified Outreach Instructor, I would like to extend the opportunity for local architects to learn more about how collaborating with a home technology partner at the beginning of your project can help you meet your client’s needs for home technology. I can meet with you and/or your team and deliver a 1-hour presentation titled ‘Designing Integrated Future-Ready Homes’.

This presentation is accredited with the Australian Institute of Architects for 1.0 Formal CPD Point as part of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program of the Australian Institute of Architects.

Contact Simon Lakey to arrange your presentation by calling 0418 100 469, by email, or using my contact form.


CEDIA is the leading global authority in the $14 billion home technology industry. CEDIA represents 3,700 member companies worldwide and serves more than 30,000 industry professionals that manufacture, design, and integrate goods and services for the connected home.

My notebook

I have always found note taking a challenge. I have so many notebooks that have been started with a handful of entries, and then not used again. They were misplaced, or never at hand when needed. Notebooks take up space, and then what do you do with them, how long do you keep them?

I relished the idea of the new Apple iPad Pro as soon as it was announced in September 2015, and jumped at it as soon as it was available. I original started with the 12.9″ iPad Pro, and have since settled with the latest 10.5″ model.

The Apple iPad Pro and Apple Pencil combination is my notebook. I have tried and used many notebook applications, and have landed with using Notability. Handwriting is very responsive, without any input lag.

I have multiple notebooks (or Subjects as Notability call them); for work, home, school, projects etc. A single note can be filed within a notebook. I can import a PDF, photo and other documents into a note, and mark it up however I need to. I can easily edit and move any object within the note.

My solution is almost perfect for me. All my notebooks are organised in one place, and are searchable. I have been using an iPad Pro and Pencil combination for more than two years, and love it.

As with any technology, a digital solution is only a benefit if it solves a problem.

Why I am CEDIA

After more than twent-six years in the consumer electronics and relating industries, I have joined CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association), and can now call myself a CEDIA Member.

“CEDIA is the leading global authority in the $14 billion home technology industry. CEDIA represents 3,700 member companies worldwide and serves more than 30,000 industry professionals that manufacture, design, and integrate goods and services for the connected home.”

I have previously been involved with CEDIA Asia Pacific for many years. I am a CEDIA Certified Instructor (CCI) Presenter, a certified CEDIA Outreach Instructor (COI), and have attended and instructed at local CEDIA exhibitions. In the past, I was a CEDIA member by affiliation with larger companies, representing them in sales, design, and consultancy roles.

I am in a fortunate position to have experienced the consumer electronic industry from multiple perspectives; supply, integration, design, project management, consultation, and as an end-user. From my experiences, I recognise and understand the challenges of building smart homes, and have developed an approach to make the process more simple, and more rewarding for homeowners and consumers.

I believe there is a better way to implement technology into a home than some current and past processes. A way that cuts through misinformation and empty promises, and protects the inexperienced technology consumer from making costly mistakes. A way that avoids the experiences of complex, over-burdened and underwhelming electronic systems that do little to enhance a homeowner’s lifestyle.

As an independent advisor, I help architects, designers and homeowners to navigate their way through every step of the smart home and technology integration process, and make sure everything is done to achieve the best possible outcome.

CEDIA represents like-minded companies and businesses, who I partner with, to supply and implement fantastic products and systems to homeowners. CEDIA also has a world renowned education program that not only educates its own industry, but also to partnering industries such as design and construction.

In joining CEDIA, my objectives are to provide my experience, knowledge, ideas, thoughts and opinions to anyone who is willing to listen, and to give back to the industry that I learned so much from.

I am pleased and proud to be a CEDIA member – I am CEDIA.