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Smart-home control is at your fingertips

All functions on the smart-home control system can be accessed from afar or without leaving your couch.

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 March, 2017, 9:22am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 March, 2017, 3:00pm

Florence Kong is the founder of FAB-A-MATTER and a chartered and registered architect in Hong Kong and Britain. She worked for Zaha Hadid Architects London, Foster + Partners, and KPF London before starting her own design studio. She lectures in architectural design and interior design at the University of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong-based Kong discusses her passion to build smart homes.

Q. What was the inspiration behind the design of this apartment?

A: I adopted a modern interpretation of traditional Chinese architecture and garden. The design is inspired by a Chinese courtyard house, with its most public space near the entrance, while the more private space is at the rear. Living rooms, the dining room, the bar and the audiovisual (AV) room are close to the core, whereas the study and bedrooms are in the back.

We used lots of screens and sliding panels, following the layering spatial effect in Chinese courtyard houses. The motorised sliding doors separate and integrate the public and private spaces seamlessly. With sensors and smart home control, we have a smooth spatial transition.

Q: How important is it to incorporate smart technology into the design?

A: Smart-home technology design allows residents to automate the home from anywhere 24/7.

Think about drawing the curtains, switching off the lights, adjusting room temperature or ventilation, setting the security alarm, or little things most people do before leaving home. All you need is your smartphone or Apple Watch and these can be done on the go.

You can access all functions on the smart home control system from afar or without leaving your couch.

The control interface is user friendly. It works on iPad, iPhone, wall-mounted touchscreen panel or a conventional wall-mounted keypad. The smart-home system allows residents to preset and call up their favourite scenes by touching one button. If you’re up for Netflix, the downlights will be off, cove lights dimmed, curtains drawn and the temperature will be set to a comfortable level.

Another feature of the technology is the “Group Control” option. This allows you to group a set of commands and allocate them to a single button on a wall-mounted user control. For example, a common application is to have a “Central Off” button set-up near the main exit, so when you are about to leave, you can press the button and shut down the system. This saves you from manually turning off all the lights, air conditioners, blinds and TVs.

Q What are the benefits of smart homes?

A: Smart-home technology is all about comfort, convenience and customised living.

It is environmentally friendly and sustainable. The solar sensor near the windows will detect the amount of sunlight and control the artificial lighting required, regulating energy consumption.

It connects people by creating and sharing memorable moments and surprises.

The system allows changes, modifications, upgrades and expansion. By updating the mobile app and adding the latest compatible modules into the server, the owner can enjoy the most up-to-date smart home functions.

Q: What are the most important factors to consider when designing a hi-tech home?

A: The most important is how such advanced technology can be tailored to owners’ needs sustainably.

The connected home must be easy to operate, and have the ability to synchronise and simplify the control of complex hardware, such as lighting, temperature, ventilation, AV and security system, of the entire apartment into a single button, to allow for customisation. Customisation is about how a smart home can save energy and offer sustainable living.

Q: Which room is your favourite?

A: My favourite is the master bedroom with a motorised bed. You can be reading, watching TV, or enjoying the open garden, or framed city through the vertical timber fins in your bed.

I also like the living room/bar area. We placed a freestanding and rotating TV there, so the space can be transformed from a family living room into an open entertainment area.

Q: Did working with HKT Premier make the design easier?

A: HKT Premier is our smart home control system provider and they are also a broadband provider. We believe it is crucial to have one company responsible for the whole system and the network.

HKT Premier offers fabulous service. We had a timely response from their relationship account manager and technical teams. We also got great professional advice from their technical team members in coordination meetings. I couldn’t be happier with the partnership.