How Savant makes a complex smart home run like a Swiss watch

Smarthome devices have come up in a sort of Wild West-like tech frontier where just about anything goes. It’s been a lawless landscape for a few years now, but home automation company Savant says it’s the new sheriff in town and plans to bring order from the chaos.

Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri may be able to talk to a bunch of different devices, but so far they aren’t proven to be as good at making multiple devices work together in concert. With these digital voice assistants, you can turn lights on and off, lock and unlock doors, and set an alarm for 6:30 a.m., but it’s going to take three different voice commands to do it. And to use a smartphone app, be prepared to switch among multiple apps. In order to fully automate a home, it helps to enlist the help of home automation services from a company like Savant.

In the first four installments of our “Connect my Crib” series, we looked at a house that already had some high-level (if a little dated) tech installed and was retrofitted to work well in the 21st century. In this fifth installment, we start from scratch — outside of a few in-ceiling speakers, the home hadn’t been modernized. We came in with a couple of new 4K TVs from Sony and Samsung, but the rest of the house was outfitted by Portland, Oregon-based Pro Tech Solutions in cooperation with Savant.

The lights and shades are from Lutron, the alarm and security camera system is by, the smart locks by Kwikset, garage door opener control from MyQ, and the thermostat from Savant. Those platforms, along with a TiVo Bolt 4K DVR, two TiVo mini boxes, Apple TV, and a Sony 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, were all corraled into one integrated system by Savant’s platform and a rack full of Savant hardware. The resulting system is then presented in a user-friendly — perhaps better described as user-familiar — manner with iPads, smartphone apps, and a slick wand-style remote providing control options. Amazon Alexa was also integrated through a few Echo Dot speakers for basic voice control.

While not a sexy term, “user interface,” or UI for short, is one of the most critical aspects of a complicated system like the one that took shape in this smart home project. Without an interface that can be easily understood, a task as seemingly simple as playing Spotify on speakers by the pool can be so frustratingly complicated, homeowners might give up on trying, never mind any visiting family or guests who just want to watch their favorite show on TV. One of Savant’s strengths is a control structure and layout that effortlessly makes sense when you pick it up. Because it feels so familiar, even if you do have to hunt and peck a little bit to get what you want, you’re going to find it quickly.

In our accompanying video, we show the finished product of Savant and Pro Tech Solutions’ work. Each element of the smart home is explored, then we take you behind the scenes to see how it’s tied together, and finish with demonstrations of the control system.

Check back periodically for new installments to our Connect My Crib series as we explore the Do-it-yourself vs. professionally installed smart home control options.

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