Designing the brain of the Home of the Future with Grant Imahara

Designing the brain of the Home of the Future with Grant Imahara


(upbeat music) – Getting smart home technology for a home of the future
has never been easier. There are smart versions of
just about every household item. Smart lights, smart speakers,
even a smart refrigerator. But connecting them all together to make a truly smarter
home can be a nightmare. So how do we connect
the home of the future? Well, you need a serious
brain, like this thing. And to integrate it, requires
some serious brain power. Pete Sandford is the
owner of Smarter Homes, a company that helps to
customize and maintain home automation systems. He’s what’s known as an integrator, and his role is to bring
all the smart devices of the home together, which is essential for
the home of the future we’re building here in Austin, Texas. ‘Cause we’ve got a truckload of cutting edge technology to install. – This is probably 25%
of what’s gonna come and make the home of the future. – You’re kidding me. The home of the future
has a lot of stuff in it. – [Pete] Yeah, takes a
lot of parts and pieces and everything’s gotta
speak the same language. – [Grant] Wow, that’s a lotta languages. – [Pete] Oh yeah. – [Grant] Someday these
devices might be fluent right out of the box. But for now, we need
an integrator like Pete to give the different
dialects universal language. And even a tech savvy guy like me who’s more than capable of
installing his own smart devices would have his hands full
trying to unify everything. Over the next month or so, Pete and his team will
work to wire the home to handle all the smart
technology we’re packing into it. Now maybe you’re thinking, “Wires? Shouldn’t our
future be more wireless?” While there’s some promising
developments in wireless power, we’re still years away from having anything reliable enough
to even consider installing in our home. So instead, for Pete and his team, their goal is to make
these wires invisible. So, Peter this is the moment of truth. I mean, last time I was here, this was just a hole in the wall with a bunch of wires coming out of it and now we have the super
computer brain of our house. I mean, when I think of a super computer, I think of War Games
and the whopper computer the (making whirring sound) But, this is gorgeous. What’s inside here? – Everything. This is as good as it gets when we’re talking smart home technology. So, here we’ve got our two Sonos players for feeding the indoor and outdoor audio, our Wattbox, which is acting as a cutoff for power to each individual
piece of equipment. We’ve got our Luxul switch
which is feeding network to all the individual
pieces of components. We’ve also got our AT&T modem. That’s feeding the
internet from the street into our system here and then
out throughout the house. Our Denon surround sound receiver which is handling all the surround sound in this room and the video
and audio in the next room. We’ve got our Lutron communicator which is wirelessly communicating with all the light switches. Our two Roku players for both
this room and the bedroom. Our amplifier here which is powering all the landscape speakers
and subterraneal subwoofer. We’ve got our PlayStation 4 for gaming, and finally, probably the
most important part in here is the brain which is
the RTI XP-8 processor. And this really helps
us bring all of these individual items together
and integrate them onto one easy-to-use interface. – So you don’t have a million remotes. – Yeah, or a million apps. (laughs) – That RTI system that Pete mentioned, you can think of it as
the operating system for the entire house. And it’s highly customizable
based on the user’s needs. So this is the whole
interface for everything that’s in that rack? – Yup. This is Remote Technologies, Inc., sitting with us is Matt, he is our wizard, or RTI programmer. And he’s the one who makes
the system easy to use and function organically with a family. – So through this interface
you’re controlling everything in the house of the future? – Pretty much everything. Some devices don’t connect
into automation systems, they might have a closed
or a partially closed API. – [Grant] API or application
programming interface is the key part of how you
integrate products into the home. Devices with very open APIs allow us to integrate their controls in a deep way with the home system. Whereas devices with closed
APIs block our ability to link their features
with the rest of the home. For example, our Nest security
camera on the front door has a closed API, so we couldn’t get that camera feed into the RTI system. In contrast, the IP
cameras around the home are completely able to
be integrated with RTI, which allows us to pull up a feed of what’s going on around the home directly from the RTI system. – So, this is the dashboard
for the entire home. Got our controls and
activities for the living room, our patio audio, our nest climate control
for the whole house. Normally, in most systems, you’ll just see it’ll say Apple TV. Here we’ve dialed it in to specific apps. So I know I watch Netflix, I watch Hulu, everything that needs to
happen to watch Netflix then happens at the push of that one button without navigating anything. – Okay, so let’s say I
got a new gaming system, I see you’ve got a PS4,
what if I got an XBox. – [Pete] We could just
grab in an XBox icon, and then program it to where it’ll switch to that gaming input for the Xbox just at the single push of a button. – [Grant] RTI is also
able to plug into Alexa, which opens up the entire
system to voice control. However it introduces an extra step. Instead of saying,
“Alexa, turn on Netflix.”, I’ll have to say, “Alexa, tell Home Butler
to turn on Netflix.” So, a little more awkward and frustrating if you forget, but soon we’re told that the system will be upgraded to avoid having to do this additional step. – But that’s kinda the easy
side of the programming. Matt gets us into more
of the advanced side, where you’ll have shortcuts, you know, for things that you do everyday. So like Good Morning or Good
Night or Welcome Home or Away. – So show me what Welcome Home does. – So come in here, open up that function. You’ll see right now
we’ve got that programmed to set the living room to Netflix, playing some music in the landscape, we’re altering the
thermostat temperature to 70, and then we’ll turn on
some lights in the kitchen, the living room. But only if it’s dark, so if you’re coming home in the day, the rest of the functions
will still happen, but the lights will stay
off to conserve energy. – And that level of house
wide control of our devices is really the strength
in a system like RTI. The ability to string
together so many devices to function as one home is the goal of the home of the future. The downside to this smart integration? Well, besides the up front fees, there’s a $30 monthly service
charge for tech support, and a twice a year visit from a programmer to make any changes. So Matt I’m looking at this, and I’m getting really excited
’cause I’m an engineer. Is this something that I
could take this software and run with it myself? – No, the end user
doesn’t actually typically program the system, we
do that just for the sake that we can make sure we get
everything in the right order. – So you’re saying no to prevent me from being a danger to myself. – Correct. – And while it would take a lot of work to attempt this kind of
high-level integration ourselves, a low-cost workaround is
to use only smart devices that already speak the same language. For example, if you got
Google Home, Chromecast, and Hue lights, you
could probably get most of the features that we have in our home for under 200 bucks. But for the home of the future, having a bunch of smart devices
alone isn’t good enough. All this technology needs to
function together seamlessly. – My job as the integrator is
to take all of these things and make them all communicate
together on one system that’s easy to use. – Might not be all the way there yet, but we’re closer than ever. For now, our home of the future
is as unified as it gets, making life more convenient and enjoyable with the push of a button. Thank you so much for watching. Now that you know what it takes to connect the devices inside
of our home of the future, how do you integrate the
devices inside of your home? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll see you next
week with a new episode.