He can preset his drapes in his dining room, living room and south side area of his family room to open at 4 p.m. and close at 10 a.m. to protect his rugs and furniture from the harsh sun. While he’s in the kitchen, he can lower the screen in the basement home theater and begin playing a favorite movie so that it’s ready for him when he gets there. And he can turn on, turn off or dim practically any light in the house.
“This system is completely comprehensive and controls the front-door camera, cable TV, the Kaleidescape video-distribution system, Internet radio, satellite radio, lighting, temperature, the shades and security,” says Choksi, 69, who served as vice president of the World Bank before founding two investment firms.
“The advantage is that if I want to change the temperature, I don’t have to go running from room to room,” adds Choksi, who lives in the house with his wife, Mary. “If I have dinner, I can preset the lighting in every room and preset the music — all with one button. You can watch one TV in one room and listen to music in a second room.”
Smartphones and tablets have made luxury more convenient to those with means, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re the type of person who struggles with the TV remote, you may not want your entire home controlled by technology. And some over-the-top features can become outdated quickly, requiring expensive updates.
Choksi said the app-based technology is far more advanced than a similar system he previously owned. The older system, he said, was clunky, with touch screens attached to walls and components that didn’t talk to one another.
Being able to operate “online has lowered prices and made these systems more accessible,” says Tom Wells, president and founder of Integrated Media Systems in Sterling.
Neither Choksi nor Wells would disclose the cost of the system. But experts say such technology can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more.
Wells says the new systems can do 50 percent more than they used to for 30 percent of the cost. “Now everyone can start with a Web-based device instead of needing to install a special touch panel. That brings down the cost tremendously.”
Although this technology may seem frivolous, it has some practical applications.
For example, when Joseph Pigg needed to let a plumber into his beach house in Delaware while he was at work in Washington, he pulled out his iPhone to shut off his alarm system. When he’s at the beach and his dogs need walking in the city, he can use the same app to handle security at his D.C. home and let in a pet sitter.
Pigg installed SimpliSafe, a wireless home-security system with motion sensors on the doors and windows. He gets a text message when they’re opened.