Two Flagstaff brothers are helping to design the homes of the future.
Charlie and Andy White, both Flag High graduates and sons of retired Flagstaff astronomer Nat White, own AVDomotics in Sedona. The company specializes in creating home and commercial automation systems that can be controlled from a touch screen or a smart phone.
“We can automate nearly anything. It just depends on what the customer wants,” Andy White said.
The company has programmed everything from a security gate to the new collaborative classroom in Northern Arizona University’s School of Communication.
The NAU classroom separates students into groups, Andy White said.
Each student has a computer, which is connected to both the university’s network and to a series of larger monitors in the room. The teacher can call up the computer screen from any computer in the room onto one of the larger screens. The students can also share screens between groups.
The NAU system is also connected to an Apple TV that allows the teacher to pull up movies, music, video and more, from iTunes or Netflicks. The device also allows a teacher or student to connect to the system with a hand-held tablet computer or smartphone and project its screen onto one of the monitors.
As many as 32 devices can connect into the system and four images can be shown at the same time on any of the computers or larger monitors. Students and teachers can also control the system through a series of touch screen tablets at each group table or at the teacher’s podium.
The brothers bought the company from its previous owner about six or seven years ago, Andy White said.
AVDomotics also built the high-tech theater at the new Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center. It also designed the lighting for the Hotel Weatherford’s annual Pine Cone Drop.
AVDomotics has also wired entire houses to be controlled from the touch screen of a smart phone or tablet, Andy White said.
For example, at one house in Flagstaff AVDomotics installed a system that would control the front gate, the lights, the garage door, the home theater system, the window shades, the security system, the furnace and the air conditioner.
The system can be programmed to open the front gate and garage door, turn on the furnace or air conditioner, turn on the lights and the TV and open the blinds before the owner arrives home from work, Andy White said. It can also be programmed to turn down the heat, turn off the lights and lock the gate when they leave in the morning.
The owner can also create pre-set levels of lighting for various rooms, such as the dinning room or the home theater, he said. And turn on the entire home theater system with one button.
Sensors scattered through out the house automatically control the heating and cooling system, Andy White said. The radio, audio or TV can also be switched from any room from any control panel or smart device.
The system offers not only the convenience of automating nearly everything in the house, he said. It can also save a homeowner money on their utility bills.
For example, another home the brothers worked on in the Flagstaff area runs off solar power and generators, Andy White said. The system AVDomotics created for the homeowner can switch on the solar panels when needed or switch the household over to one of two generators. It can also switch off anything that is not being used in the house in order to conserve energy, such as the well pump.
“We both have engineering backgrounds. So we have a slightly different take on programming a system than some other companies that employees with mostly (Information Technology) backgrounds,” Charlie White said.
If a customer wants something specific, the brothers figure out how to engineer a system with both the physical components and computer program to do what they want, he said. A lot of times someone with a programing background will only look at the program that runs the system.
The cost to install a system depends on what the customer wants and how big the building is, said Charlie White.
“It can range from thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
The difference between AVDomotics systems and a do-it-yourself smart system such as Nest, which manufactures smart thermostats and smoke detectors, is that AVDomotics incorporates the whole house on one system, Charlie White said. Nest and some of the other smart house items available in hardware stores can only control one part of the house.
“You end up with multiple apps on your phone,” he said.
You have to open four or five of them one at a time in order to open the front gate, turn on the lights and open the garage door, Charlie White said. An integrated system, such as the Crestron systems AVDomotics uses, uses only one app to control everything.
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