Music + Technology + Random Nonsense from the Music Industry by Ethan Kaplan, VP Product, Live Nation

Details…on the home tech front

Ahh, so more tech details about the Apartment Therapy article

I designed the technology of the house based on the concept of the house being one huge Internet platform, meaning that any device, provided it had the ability, could connect to the Internet and other devices in the home through an array of wireless networks.

Our Internet access is high speed DSL through SpeakEasy, coming in through a Netgear VPN router. The router also has a direct connection to my office from my house. Off of the Netgear, we have two wireless networks created, one in the G spectrum (up to 54 mbps) and one new Apple Airport Extreme N edition, for newer Mac’s.

Also off the Netgear is connected the Sonos music station. The Sonos operates on its own wireless network independent of the rest of the house.

In the Entertainment unit, there is an Airport Extreme G router which acts as a relayer to expand the network, as well as a bridge. Hooked to this is a Netgear 5 port switch, and to that, the Slingbox video streamer, as well as our DirectTV box. This lets me operate Internet enabled devices in the entertainment unit, without having to have each device need its own wireless bridge. The two other Internet enabled devices in the Entertainment unit (the AppleTV and the Sonos Zone Player) both have wireless networking built in.

The Entertainment unit contains a Pioneer reciever, into which feeds the output of the TV as well as a 3 input/1 output HDMI switcher. I got the switcher because my job necessitates testing a lot of devices. More devices than we have room for. Into the switcher currently runs HDMI from an upconverting DVD Player and an AppleTV. Soon to join it is a Blue-Ray DVD Player.

The entire cabinet is powered through an UPS which will power all the equipment for one hour. Considering that in the cabinet, 2 devices have hard drives, this is slightly essential. We have never had a power issue.

The setup is controlled using a Logitech Harmony 880 remote control.

In the kitchen is the MacMini which controls the power grid for the entire home. The MacMini is a Core Solo I picked up from a University for $300.00. Its hooked to a Planar touch screen monitor, but I also have a Bluetooth keyboard on it for use as an Internet terminal (no mouse though). The MacMini uses the Indigo software from Perceptive Automation in conjunction with an Insteon USB to Powerline interface from Smarthome to control all lighting in the house.

We have every light switch in the house wired using Insteon ICON and PowerLink dimmers. The ICON are cheaper, but don’t have ramp-rate control, so we use Powerlinks only in rooms where we want better ambiance. That means the Powerlinks are primary light switches in the office, living room, dining room and bedroom, but hallways, bathrooms, etc use ICON switches. We also have one relay type switch for the kitchen lights.

Around the house are X10 based RF motion detectors, and hooked into the computer is a universal RF transciever to pick up signals. I have it wired so that on motion detection, lights go on in the room and go off only after ten minutes of no motion. I also have those disabled at night when we’re sleeping so the cat doesn’t set them off.

Behind our bed is a ControlLink from Insteon (get it at, which has five buttons programmed to instigate “modes” when we’re in bed. The primary ones we use are “reading,” which turns the bedside lamps on to 50% but dims the overheads to 40%, and “sleep” mode, which puts overhead and bedside lamps on to 50%, slowly dims the overhead to 0 over 10 minutes, then likewise the bedside lamps. After all lights are off, this mode checks to turn off the rest of the house, and disables motion detection.

The garage door also has a “door close” sensor on it, so “sleep mode” can warn us if we left it open. The garage door sensor also triggers actions when it detects the door opens. If its night time out, it’ll turn on the living room and stairway lights, as well as the office light (where the dogs are).

So there you have it. Overall its not too complicated, but complicated enough so that its amazing it all works seamlessly :)

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2 Responses

  1. [...] Tour: Ethan and Amy Marry Tech with Design – and more. Pretty [...]

  2. Ivette says:

    Hey love your set up….im dying to know where did you get your tv media from i love it….looking for something like that what store or whats the name of it…thanks a bunch!!!…Ivette