Double Double “Tech” and Trouble: Top Halloween Apps

Written by Amber Mansfield on October 16, 2014

Halloween is fast approaching and it is my favorite time of year! The spookiness of October always excites me. I can’t get enough witches, ghosts and zombies on TV so I decided to look and see what fun I could cook up on my phone. Here are some of the best (and free) apps I found:

Zombify (iPhone) / ZombieBooth (Android)
Ages 12+
Ok, this one is super addicting. This app allows you to transform your face or the faces of your friends and family into disgustingly-fabulous zombies! Looks like I could go for a good dental cleaning and a bandaid or two.

Zombify.jpg

Camera Hoax (iPhone)
Ages 12+
Take a picture and put one of the app’s scary stickers in it. You can choose from UFO’s, ghosts, aliens, or zombies. Play jokes on your friends or plan a scary photobomb! I took a picture of some zombies leaving the Control4 office!

camerahoax - Copy.jpeg

Haunted Manor 2 (iPhone / Android)
Ages 17+
The detail and animation took me by surprise instantly, as it’s almost cinematic. If you are someone who likes games based on skill and logic, you’ll probably find yourself immersed in the storyline.

HauntedManor.PNG

Zombie Smash Lite (iPhone free / Android for $0.99)
Ages 12+
If you want a little more “action” in a game than the Haunted Manor listed above, this one is pretty entertaining. Use your finger to swipe-and-throw zombies across the screen or “tap-em-to-smash-em.” The game speeds up as you go, so be sure to use the appropriate tools you’re given to smash them in groups.  
ZombieSmash.PNG


TuneIn – Halloween Music (iPhone / Android)
Ages 4+
Why take the time to put together a playlist of Halloween songs when you can simply stream a Halloween music channel online? The Halloween Radio channel through TuneIn will continuously play all types of fun and spooky tunes. From Alice Cooper’s “Welcome to my Nightmare” to Disney’s “We Three Dracs,” they have a little something for all music junkies. And what’s even better, if your audio system is tied to Control4, you can pipe that music through the speakers in your house, directly from your handheld device.
TuneIn.png


Halloween WordSearch (iPhone / Android)
Ages 9+
Who doesn’t love a good word search? And who doesn’t love Halloween? Combine the two, and you have something to keep you busy for hours. Ok, maybe not hours, but the spooky words and and fun soundtrack will occupy your time for a bit.

HalloweenWordSearch.png

Carve-a-Pumpkin (iPhone) / Pumpkin Maker (Android)
Age 4+
Looking for something to entertain the little ones? Let them carve or design a Jack-O-Lantern in the palm of their hands. When they are done, just erase the pumpkin and start again. No mess to clean up here!

PumpkinMaker.png

I hope these apps help put a little more “spook” into your All Hallows’ Eve!

Happy Haunting!

Posted in audio visual experts, Control 4, Home Automation, Home Technology, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

8 Must Haves For Any High End Home Theater

Home Theatre Calgary

Home Theatre Calgary

Written by Crystal Watts on October 1, 2014

Maybe you’re looking to turn your neglected garage into the ultimate cinema experience. Or perhaps you want to enhance your family movie night with a few updates to your existing home theater.

No matter your vision, here are 8 must haves for the perfect automated home theater.

Movie Posters

Set the scene with a giant poster of your favorite movie. Display a vintage poster of an old John Wayne western, or frame a bizarre sci-fi print of Attack of the 50ft Woman. Maybe you’d prefer a modern favorite like The Hobbit—you can find the perfect movie poster for you home theater no matter what kind of movie buff you are.

Stadium Seating with LED Step Lights

Many homeowners are installing stadium seating into their home theaters to achieve optimal viewing pleasure, but what would stadium seating be without some LED step lights? Now you and your guests can enjoy a real movie theater experience without tripping over steps in the dark. And the best thing yet, they can easily be tied into a Control4 home automation system so that they light up when the movie is paused.

Vintage Popcorn Machine

Looking for a way to give your family and guests a unique movie night? Don’t feed them microwaved popcorn; go with a retro-style popcorn machine that pops out fresh, buttery goodness that’s vital for any movie.

Soda Bar System

As an ideal partner for your retro-style popcorn machine, customize your own soda bar system to give your family and guests the perfect beverage to go along with their favorite movies.

Soundproofed Home Theater

If you want to hear the explosions and sweeping soundtracks of your favorite movies in all their booming splendor, be considerate to the rest of your family by soundproofing your home theater. You can install sound-dampening materials in your walls, ceilings and floors. Additionally, hanging drapes and curtains can help enhance the acoustics of your home theater by absorbing sound that would normally bounce around.

Wall Sconce Lights with Dimmer Controls

When it comes to lighting, the little flourishes make a big difference. For example, a custom wall sconce with dimmer controls can really help you and your guests immerse yourselves in the movie. When you connect it with your Control4 home automation system, you can have them dim automatically to the perfect level right as the movie starts. And when the movie ends, they can brighten back up as you stretch and chat about how amazing the movie was.

Motorized Projection Screen

Imagine a group of friends gathering in your home to watch a movie. Everyone settles in their comfy seats, waiting in anticipation for the movie to start. You casually press a single button on your Control4 remote control, and all at once the lights dim, your motorized projection screen lowers as if out of nowhere, and the movie begins.

Immerse Yourself in 7.1 Surround Sound

7.1 surround sound truly immerses you into the movie by encircling you with eight (eight!) separate speaker channels. You’ll feel like the movie is happening all around you: front to back, side to side, and top to bottom. Ask your Control4 authorized dealer how you can integrate 7.1 surround sound into your home theater system—you’ll be glad you did.

Your Automated Home Theater

Our favorite movies have the power to completely captivateus in their stories—an automated home theater Calgary can take the cinematic experience to the next level. You’ll never want to watch a movie without home automation ever again!

Learn more about how Control4 can help you craft the ultimate home theater!

Posted in Control 4, Home Automation, Home Technology, Home Theater, Home Theatre, Technology | Leave a comment

Back to School: 7 Ways a Smart Home Can Help

Home Automation

Home Automation

It’s that time of year. Shopping for new clothes, buying new backpacks and school supplies, registering for classes, getting the first-day jitters. And for a lot of parents (like me), it’s time to figure out how to manage kids before and after school. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use my Control4 home automation system to “school” my family.
 
1.      GET UP! The kids certainly got used to sleeping in late during the summer break. Now they have to get up at the crack of dawn in order to get dressed and ready for school. No easy process. Personally, I hate starting a bright new day screaming like a banshee at my kids to get them out of bed. So we set our Control4 smart home system up to do a few things to help them wake up on their own. The bus leaves at 8:18 (give or take 5 minutes) so at 7am, the lights in both kids’ bedrooms come on automatically. Both kids have their own special soundtrack that starts to play in their rooms, gradually becoming louder to ease them out of bed. They each have a checklist by their door with their morning to-dos: get dressed, make bed, brush teeth, brush hair, get backpack, go down to breakfast. If the kids are not seated at the kitchen table by 7:30, I just grab my phone and hit the “GET UP!” button. This flashes the lights in their bedrooms and bathroom while broadcasting “You need to be downstairs in 5-4-3-2-1” over the speakers. Works like a charm.
 
2.      I’M HOME. I swear by this one. When the kids get home from school in the afternoon, they use their own special code on the Yale smart lock on the front door to let themselves into the house. A text is automatically sent to my smartphone reading “Noah is home” with a time stamp. If the code on the smart lock has not been entered during the 30-minute window the kids should have been home after school, I also get a text so I can track down my errant child. (No, you were not allowed to go to Bobby’s house after school without asking me.) Brilliant.
 
3.      HOMEWORK. It’s borderline impossible to keep kids focused on homework and chores when there are so many electronic distractions around, right? And if you’re a working parent, forget about it. You may not know this, but…kids lie. Sure their homework was done in 5 minutes, dishes put away and chores completed. Or they’re just playing Xbox and you’ll end up doing all of this at 10pm or 7am in a crabby rush. I have our electronics set up so that we can shut them down from our iPhones. No TV, no gaming until homework and chores are complete. Once the kids have proven that they are, in fact, compliant with the rules, I can turn all the fun stuff on – right from my phone. (This is also great when kids are grounded.) And if they try to sneak one past me, I get an alert from my Control4 system that the Xbox was turned on – busted!
 
4.      DINNER TIME: Once I get home from work and dinner is finally ready to be served, rounding up the kids can be an issue—one I don’t usually have the energy to deal with. So, again, I enlist the help of my Control4 home automation system. A broadcast message goes out over all the speakers in the house announcing “Dinner Time,” while the lights flash in the kids’ rooms and the electronics shut down. I can even use my phone or the touch screen in the kitchen to check the security cameras in the game room and outside to see if the kids are on their way in to eat.
 
5.      BEDTIME: Once chores are done, homework is finished, dinner is complete and cleaned up, lunches are packed, and all of the after-school-activity equipment is loaded into the car, the kids and I get to relax and have some fun. Well, for about eight minutes. Then it’s bedtime. The worst time of the day for most kids. Personally, I can’t wait to curl up in my bed and get some shut-eye, but my kids have no such need. So it’s a fight. I have my system set up to flash the lights at 8:30pm, signaling that bedtime is coming. They have 30 minutes to get pajamas on, teeth brushed, showered, and get to bed. At 9pm sharp, the lights go off along with all the electronics in their rooms. It’s really slick. All I have to do is read a book and give goodnight hugs and kisses.
 
6.      BABYSITTER: Occasionally, I get to have a night out. Or go to a Zumba class after work. Or I just have to work late. On those days, I have a nanny who comes to sit with the kids after school. I have asked her to limit the kids’ TV and game time but sometimes I think it slips through the cracks. I get the same text messages letting me know she’s using the “electronic babysitter” instead of actually engaging with the kids. This has been a great way to make sure my kids are in good hands when I can’t be at home with them.
 
7.      FUN STUFF: Sometimes getting back to school can be a real grind. Not just for the kids, but for mom too. It feels like every day is a race with nothing but schedules, calendars, to-do lists and homework. So sometimes it’s nice to just take a break and have some fun. That’s when we hit the “Play” button and the whole entertainment center kicks on so we can play Black Ops or watch the latest Transformers movie with some popcorn. That’s when my kids think I’m the world’s coolest mom. And I’m pretty okay with that. 

Posted in audio visual experts, Bose speaker, Control 4, Home Automation, Home Technology, Home Theater, Home Theatre, lighting control, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remote Monitoring: Peace of Mind on Your Next Vacation

Home Automation Calgary

Home Automation Calgary

This post comes to us from Lisa Montgomery, Senior Editor at Electronic House and freelance home technology writer.

You’ve hit the road with the family for the annual summer vacation. You can’t help but feel apprehensive about the well-being of your house and property while you’re away. Thanks to innovative home technology, your worries can be over. Equipped with Internet-friendly surveillance cameras and a control system, your house can keep you apprised of everything from a busted pipe in the basement and trespassers in the backyard, to the status of the thermostats and light switches. All you need with you is your smartphone with a WiFi or 3G/4G connection, and you can monitor and manage your home from miles away as easily as if you were there.

An automation system and surveillance cameras can be set up to alert you to certain conditions via a text or email message. From your phone you can log into the system to confirm the validity of the alert, and better yet, respond appropriately to it. For example, if your system has texted “Motion at the front door,” you can access the outdoor surveillance camera and view the front door remotely on the screen of your touch screen. If you see that it’s a friend who has stopped by to pick up your mail, you can unlock the door to let him/her in, then lock it back up after they leave. Should you see the weather back home has become outrageously hot and dry, you can tap into your home control system remotely to adjust the thermostats to protect the plants and activate the sprinkler system to keep the grass healthy and green during your absence.

With remote access to the electronic systems in your house, you’ll have the peace of mind to truly relax during your well-deserved vacation. So grab a towel, sunscreen and your smartphone and hit the beach. Your automation system and linked-in surveillance cameras have everything under control back home.

Check out how this killer vacation pad in Bal Harbour, Florida, is outfitted with home technology to allow the owner to check in, at any time, from his primary residence in France: The French Connection

Posted in Control 4, Home Automation, Home Technology, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Home Theater: A Great Place to Start Automating

Home Theater Calgary

Home Theater Calgary

The thought of placing your entire house under the command of a single home automation system can seem like a daunting task. And in some cases, it can be. Whether your home is in the process of being built or is already completely finished, its layout and your budget can all influence the difficulty of the design and installation of the processors, wiring and other components that make up a control system. Fortunately, manufacturers like Control4 offer solutions that allow you to add home automation gradually, one component at a time, as you deem necessary and financially wise.

A natural place to begin your automating is in the home theater or media room. Here, you can consolidate the controls of every piece of A/V equipment into a single menu on an iPad, a touch screen or the buttons of a handheld remote. A “Movie Time” command issued by these devices is received by the home theater’s home automation processor, which is able to translate the command into signals that each piece of A/V equipment can understand. Beyond this capability, the processor can manage the settings of the room lights; for instance, dimming them as the A/V receiver activates. It can also tell a motorized roller or track to close the shades or drapes over the windows.

These features can provide you with a good sense of what home automation is about. You’ll be able to get familiar and comfortable with the system, and when you’re ready, expand into other rooms or weave in the control of other types of devices with confidence and without breaking the bank. And don’t worry too much about the labor involved. A few additional pieces of hardware and a tweak of the software program by a custom electronics professional will likely be all that’s required to broaden the scope of a home theater-based automation system.

See how this Florida homeowner with a penchant for high-powered audio experiences transformed his home theater into a full-blown home automation systems that would fulfill any audiophile’s wildest dreams: Control4 Puts Audio Power in the Palm of the Hand

Posted in Control 4, Home Automation, Home Technology, Home Theater, Home Theatre, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Upgrading Your Home Automation System…Why Should You Do It?

Upgrading Your Home Automation System...Why Should You Do It?: home automation, owners, smart home, upgrade,

Why upgrade?

From time to time, your Control4 dealer may have announced upgrades available for your Control4 home automation system. But your Control4 system has been working great—so why “fix” something that isn’t broken?

Growing and changing needs

You shouldn’t need to upgrade if everything’s working like it should, right?
Right.
Just like…your computer that was “plenty fast enough” when you bought it a few years ago.
Before Battlefield 4.
Or the hard drive in your media center that had “more storage space than I’ll ever need.”
Before you converted your DVD collection to media files.
Before your kids got hooked on iTunes.
Before you discovered jazz.
Or your car that was big enough for you and your spouse.
Before the twins.
Or the 20” TV that was big enough when you first built your home.
Before you installed theater seating in your family room.
Or any of the things you use every day that were cutting-edge once, but need to catch up to emerging tech, changing families, and fresher visions. In short, your needs and wants change, and your environment needs to catch up to you.

Growing together

The quality, capacity, and sheer number of electronic devices in your home has likely grown,  so your home automation system needs to grow along with it. The size of your family and your social circle may likewise have undergone some changes, so your Control4 system needs to adapt.Besides, your Control4 system is fun to use and fun to—admit it—show off. And once you get a taste, you’ll want to automate even more of your surroundings. Because if there’s anything more fun than showing off your system, it’s showing off an upgraded and expanded system.Each new Control4 Operating System release is more feature-rich than the one before, with support for controlling more devices in more ways, all while maintaining the legendary Control4 dependability and ease of use.

It’s easy

Your Control4 dealer can easily update your Control4 system’s software so it keeps up with your latest high-tech wonders. They can also set up your system to automatically update whenever there’s a new operating system, and they’d love to tell you of the latest tips, tricks, and toys from Control4 that will open your eyes to what your system can become.Visit http://www.control4.com/owners/promotions to see how you can get up to 15% off all Control4 products by upgrading your Control4 automation system, and contact your dealer to help your automated home catch up to your life!
Posted in audio visual experts, Bose speaker, Control 4, Home Automation, Home Technology, Home Theater, Home Theatre, lighting control, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sci-Fi Technology Has Become a Reality

It is now 2014 and there are still no flying cars. However, many technologies that were previously only found in science fiction have now become science fact. Amazon’s revelation of its proposed Prime Air delivery drone is just the latest futuristic technology that could soon become commonplace. Some of these products are still in development but many, like the Apple iPad, have become smart-household items. Here are just a few of the remarkable technologies that were first featured in sci-fi but are now for real.

1.)    Smart Homes – A staple of science fiction that has come to life is the automated (or “smart”) home. Futuristic domiciles have been portrayed by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Futurama and even the 1999 Disney Channel movie Smart House. Today, homeowners can set their house to adjust the thermostat, open and close blinds, lock and unlock doors and even send text messages to alert you when your kids get home from school. From lighting and climate control to home security and entertainment, you can now control almost every aspect of your home with the touch of a button.

2.)    Tablets – The image of spaceship captains or crew running ship diagnostics or reading reports on sleek, portable touch-screen displays has been around for a long time. In the original Star Trek series, Lt. Uhura could be seen using an “electronic clipboard.” Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, showed Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole using “NewsPads” while they ate. The most famous science fiction precursors to the tablet, however, were the Personal Access Display Devices (PADDs) featured in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Today, iPads and Android tablets are readily available and widely used.
Photo Source: Best Buy

3.)    3D Printers – “Matter replicators” were another technological pipe dream made famous by Star Trek: The Next Generation. They were able to produce just about anything that the crew might need, including hot Earl Grey tea. The concept of creating objects seemingly out of nothing can be found even earlier in the 1956 film Forbidden Planet. The movie featured Robby the Robot who had a replicator built into his body. Today 3D printers promise to revolutionize many industries and the International Space Station is even getting its own in 2014.

Photo Source: Amazon
4.)    Heads-Up Displays – The heads-up display (HUD) is a holographic display that projects data in front of a user so that they can access real-time information without having to look away from what they are doing. Tony Stark’s armor in the Iron Man movies and The Avengers keeps him constantly surrounded by a stream of information as he battles the forces of evil. Google Glass will offer a video-game like wearable computer that displays information hands-free. It will create an “augmented reality” where users can seamlessly integrate the world around them with digital information.

Photo Source: Forbes
5.)    Self-Driving Cars – Another project still in the developmental stages, the driverless car is currently being researched by companies including Google, Mercedes-Benz, GM and Nissan. Similar to the robotic cabs of Total Recall and the futuristic Audi of I, Robot, the real self-driving cars are designed to allow human operators to kick back and let the car handle the commute. By using cameras and radar mounted on the vehicle, the car will be able to map its environment and can connect to other vehicles on the cloud through wireless or satellite Internet for traffic information. Several of these designs have already driven on public roads and Nissan says that it hopes to have them available for the public by 2020.

Photo Source: TopGear.com
6.)    Smart Watches – From Dick Tracey and James Bond to Captain Kirk and even George Jetson, pop culture’s vision of futuristic technology has often included a wristwatch communicator. Samsung, in their ads for the new Galaxy GEAR™, highlight all of the different fictional incarnations of the smart watch to claim that the latest tech accessory has been “A Long Time Coming.” While it may not be the stuff of secret agents, the Galaxy GEAR™ does represent mobile technology’s ability to keep us constantly connected and the advent of voice activated functions.

Photo Source: Verizon Wireless
Though several of these technologies are still years away from being available, or affordable, the fact that they are even possible is astounding. As technology continues to progress, it will be fascinating to see what other elements of science fiction become integral parts of our everyday lives.

Posted in Control 4, Home Automation, Home Technology, Home Theater, Home Theatre, lighting control, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment