Media rooms typically revolve around audio-visual equipment. However, the concept of connectivity has been used to enhance the capabilities of media rooms and the systems within them to create a fully immersive experience, all with easy control.
They key to successful home connectivity within a media room is to ensure technology is integrated — meaning many devices can be controlled from the same place, such as smartphones, a wall-mounted control panel or console. Information from the electronic systems should be visable here, allowing complete control. This information can be shared with other smart phones and tablets using a home WiFi network.
The integration within a media room refers to the electrical components of the actual audio visual system; this includes the television or projector screen and projector; surround-sound speakers; audio processing software, and perhaps some atmospheric lighting, which dims when your film starts. It is vital that these elements, which are generally sourced separately, interact to produce a cohesive experience.
In this example, the lights are connected to the activity of the television screen, and turn on and off accordingly. Additionally, an installer can integrate the surround sound system with the visual components. This high tech integration is what lies behind many luxury media rooms.
The integration between many devices in one property can be known as a ‘home network’. According to CEDIA, (the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association,) a home can take 25 or more connected devices, offering ways of managing your home entertainment from your smartphone, tablet or built-in console with a ‘universal control’ programme.
The key to having an easy-to-use home network is to have the controls for multiple devices centralised in one place; a central hub. This is usually done on a built-in wall monitor and connected smartphone or tablet, managed with a ‘universal control’ program which allows you to access and use the devices in your home network. A professional can create this network, and allow you to control your connected appliances with the touch of a button or screen.
Programmes such as URC Total Control are installed to manage the integrated systems on a home network. Installing the app to an smartphone or tablet will allow that device to act as a remote for your network
The Central Hub
A connected media room means much more than just audio-visual equipment. The concept of a central hub with screens in several areas can provide comprehensive control of your house, from any room — including the media room.
Using the hub, all connected aspects can be controlled throughout the property. For example, if you forgot to turn off lights in the bedroom, you can turn them off on your panel or iPhone even if you are in another room. Perhaps you may connect a ‘video doorbell’, home security devices and other appliances to your central hub, allowing access from your most used rooms. Entertainment options, like music following you out of or into the media room, are also possible.
While it may feel more natural to control your television and speakers with your remote or iPhone, aspects like your room’s lighting or heat could be managed from a wall panel in the media room — with the option to control from a remote if you prefer.
What to consider before installing
Matt Nimmons, Operations Director at CEDIA (the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association), shares his advice on what to consider before installing your integrated media room.
Level of technology
Work with the home technology professional to work out what kind of technologies you’d like installed in the media room. This could include:
- Music — CD player, radio iPod, music streaming
- Data — access to the internet
- Telecoms — is a telephone point required?
- Video — DVD, Blu-ray, digital TV, movie server
- Screens — TV, projector
- Audio — surround sound, 360° immersive sound
- Control — AV, lighting control, blind control
Locating in a Central Area
The control hub should be located in a central area of the house, in a designated room or cupboard. The installation of a system in this way keeps all the main technology in one place and will allow for upgrades and future changes. This is a great way to plan for the future, allowing the room to be adapted as requirements and technologies change.
A system design needs to be planned out and include the positions of all technology. It is important at this stage to have a clear idea of how the media room will work once furnished, so TVs and speakers can be positioned in the optimum positions. It also gives you the chance to make sure all power points and cables can be terminated, so as not to be seen when the equipment is finally installed.
Once the above steps have been completed, it is time to consider the cabling. The beginning of the build stage is when this needs to take place. This is the time that it is possible to add the required cables and make sure they are in the correct place, enabling a wire-free look on completion.
A well designed and integrated system can be upgraded as new products are released. Ideally, the initial installation should be the beginning of a long-term relationship with your home technology professional. As things change or new products are introduced, a CEDIA member will be able to give you advice on whether you should upgrade or sit out the new developments and wait until they’re more established.
Use a Professional
CEDIA is the global body for the home technology industry. Members are qualified technology professionals who will be able to design and install your automation system — simply use the finder service on their website.
Successful integration of multiple devices may require a custom control interface depending on how many different components your system is made of. It is best to consult a professional to work out a technical plan.
While appliances can be turned on and controlled with device-specific apps, consulting a professional means a fully integrated system can be planned with one central hub for your home. This central hub is key to creating a successful integrated home, and while off-the-shelf-options exist, you will have more bespoke options and longevity from your project if a professional is involved.
To avoid running down smartphone or tablet power, some of this processing can be done with servers in ‘the cloud’. However, this level of technology isn’t an off-the-shelf option.
Although app control seems like an easy solution, it is recommended that there are some tactile buttons fitted in the house too. You never know when you might loose your phone! Find out more about integrated systems with our article on incorporating technology into your design.
Featured image: Media room by New Land Solutions
National Smart Home Month will run throughout October to raise awareness about the life-enhancing benefits of smart home technology. Find out all you need to know about adding smart tech into your home with product and project advice from Real Homes, Homebuilding & Renovating, T3 and TechRadar.