I use my Mac for Home Automation
We interview Jason Vaughan, co-founder of AV specialist Kensington Home Technology, about his love for home automation and Apple products.
MacFormat: Tell us about yourself.
Jason Vaughan: I’m the co-founder of AV (audio-visual) specialist Kensington Home Technology (k-ht.co.uk). We provide AV solutions mainly to the top end of the residential market. We have been providing high-end solutions for the past six years and use a range of systems, such as Crestron, Control 4 and now Savant (savantsystems.com).
MF: What was your first Mac?
JV: I got my first Mac, an Apple Classic II, in 1992. I used this mainly for letters and spreadsheets although I did actually use it for a bit of CAD[computer-aided design] work! I was always fascinated by audio-visual technology and moved onto a Quadra 660AV, so that I could do video editing. I didn’t realise at the time that a 660AV was only capable of editing video that was the size of a postage stamp! After saving up, I moved on to an 8100/80 and used to hire systems using the Radius Video Vision Studio editor in order to do a bit more AV.
MF: How are Macs involved in home automation?
JV: The majority of AV systems use the Windows operating system to configure and program them. Savant is different because not only is it programmed using Macs but the system actually uses a Mac mini as the central control processor for the whole system. Savant was also the first company to introduce a native iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch app that delivers complete control and automation to the process.
MF: Tell us more.
JV: Savant has a Mac mini at its heart and it communicates with all your AV kit as well as lighting systems and heating controls using Infra Red, RS232 and IP. When the founders of Savant were looking for an operating system, they needed it to be extremely flexible and reliable. They evaluated various systems, including Windows, Linux and Apple, and chose Apple for ease of use and reliability. Being Mac-based makes Savant a pleasure to program (I have to use Parallels Desktop and Windows to program all the other systems we use). Savant is intuitive to use, although it still has quite a steep learning curve.
MF: Are Macs reliable for AV system use?
JV: We have been putting Apple Macs into AV jobs for a number of years now, mainly to offer remote access and a way to host distributed music. In the three or four years of using them, we have had only one Mac mini fail on us. That’s a very impressive record. We have found Savant lives up to this, and while the UK market is still young, we expect it to flourish in the coming years.