Gone are the big TVs that were once an ever obtrusive element in your decor. Today’s flat-screen TV is so fabulous it has to hide in the wall or ceiling while not in use.
As design becomes more minimalist, importance is placed upon glass walls and vacant floor space for yoga mats and pots of ivy. Furnishings and electronics make their way into hidden spaces beneath the floor and behind the artwork.
Future Automation and Acoustic Architects have teamed up to make this process absolutely flawless and magically intuitive. Take a look at our interview with Future Automation’s Ollie French, as he takes us on a tour of the possibilities in highly transformative modern spaces.
How It All Began
Acoustic Architects (AA): Tell us about your serendipitous introduction to this innovative venture.
Ollie French (OF): I met Alun Williams, Future Automation’s founder, in a ski resort pub. It was at Whistler, Canada in 2002. Future Automation was born out of Alun’s engineering skill and talent and still thrives because of the quality of the technology.
AA: When did you join forces with Alun?
OF: Alun had established the company with a product line up selling to other integrators in the UK while running his installation business Future Sound and Vision. The opportunity to grow Future Automation as a manufacturing business was there but he could not do both.
I came on board in 2005 to grow the manufacturing side. We experienced quick growth and success with our product range and the ability to make any custom solution. I lead the client-facing side of the business while Alun and the engineers make and design the solutions needed by the integrators and consumers.
AA: When did the expansion into the European and US markets occur?
OF: We began to export the product to dealers outside the UK in 2006 and then entered the US market in 2011 with the incorporation of our US company in New Hampshire. The company continued to grow and now all of our production is in-house.
AA: What is your unique role as the Director of a leading automation company?
OF: Our business is all about excellent service and innovative solutions. This is the core of our values. The automation dealers we work with need us to have top problem-solving capabilities. Future Automation will make exactly what every client needs, customized to their demands and specifications. So our goal every time is to make sure our client gets exactly what they want when they want it.
AA: How do your lift solutions differ from similar competitors?
OF: We make an ultra-reliable product, with superior electronics that are easier to wire into the control system of the house. Our electronics and fabrication are all in-house. And our service engineers go to the job site to support the dealers in the field. This allows us to customize fittings to 1/16th of an inch, which makes for an exceedingly high-quality product. The visual experience is much smoother and audible experience is much quieter. And as I said earlier, customer service is of utmost importance to us. It’s what our business hinges on.
AA: Tell us about the exciting technology behind the Split Box and the SLS Swivel Prototype that were just released in February.
OF: We are seeing larger TVs and LED walls in outdoor spaces. When it comes to moving something of that size and weight, it needs to be fast and safe, with seamless sensors. It is like putting a sail up in the air. They must have expert jam and weather detection, as well as extraordinary position and location recognition.
AA: The ceiling mount projector lifts are a popular item in many South Florida residences, can you tell us about those?
OF: Floor to ceiling windows are increasingly common in South Florida residences. Cabinets and televisions get in the way of scenic views. The design layouts of the interiors also focus on a clean minimalist look. So with the lifts, the TV or projector can hide in the ceiling, taking up very little space. It allows for greater flexibility and maintains the aesthetic.
AA: The moving panel mechanism is a great design feature. Is it in high demand among architects and interior designers? What are some of the favorites of residential design teams?
OF: Often, we are hiding the standard 75” televisions behind artwork, or inside the wall, ceiling, or floor. They want the technology but don’t want to see it. So we create a solution that works for the space.
AA: What new products are coming out in the near future?
OF: LED televisions don’t include audio, so we are designing in-ground speaker lifts that are similar to those of the televisions. The speakers will come out of the ground and create an entire entertainment setup that can be concealed when not in use.
The Secret Agents of Automation
AA: How has your technology influenced home automation in the South Florida market.
OF: Future Automation products specifically free up an architect to design fully glass buildings, offering completely unhindered creative freedom and really cool spaces.
AA: When did you first start working on projects with Acoustic Architects? How did the relationship form?
OF: We met Acoustic Architects at CEDIA 2012, in the US. They were able to see the quality of our product. We discussed some projects with them, and then met in Miami. The contractor for the Muse highrise build specified us as the vendor for the project, and Acoustic Architects were the integrator for the project.
AA: Describe the synergy between Future Automation and Acoustic Architects?
OF: They are very financially responsible and resourceful. As a big player in the competitive South Florida market, they’ve got the technical skill and scale to deliver large projects. From drawing to project management, they have the right people in the right jobs for a successful outcome.
AA: Can you give us a Case Study of the James Bond-style transformations we’ve seen on your website?
OF: Recently, we did a full cinema room that already had the interior decor of a standard U-shaped sofa and coffee table. However, the client desired additional seating. So we designed lift mechanisms that would allow the coffee table to drop into the floor, the original sofa to move forward, covering the hole, and then another sofa to come up out of the floor behind the U-shaped sofa. The entire room transforms seamlessly and stealthily.
AA: What is the most popular technology concealing product in the South Florida market?
OF: A ceiling mount flip-down hinge for large TVs, common in high-rise units.
AA: What are your predictions for the future of home automation?
OF: Voice control for everything! Also, 5G technology will allow every device to be connected. But with that, we will need to see better complex command control.
Responsive Living, the term coined by Acoustic Architects founders, Aaron Flint and Spencer Hauldren, is the concept of seamlessly enhancing the client’s unique lifestyle using smart home technology. Responsive Living allows you to interact with your space via touch input, voice command, and predictive automation, placing you in full control of your home.
If you would like to learn more about transformative home automation, feel free to connect with us. We will be happy to schedule a demo with you.
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