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FUSION Thinks | MAR 24 : Evolution of Home Automation & Integrated Systems

18 March 2024  /  Karan Shah

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This month’s Fusion Thinks is brought to us by Karan Shah, our Functional Design Lead. Fusion Thinks is a monthly initiative where different members of the Fusion team consider important issues that effect our industry.




In the following document we will explore topics such as home automation and integrated systems, including the importance of a strong and reliable network, the evolution of AV with technology and the benefits of an integrated centralised system.

In 1975, the first general purpose home automation network, X10, was developed. After years of research and advancement in technology, these systems are now paired with a secure and dependable network infrastructure, and it has changed the game!

The days of having of a local source in a designated TV room are in the past. Systems today are simple, intuitive, and built to be expanded, negating the need to redesign the existing set up – simply plug and play. Video and audio sources (such as Apple TV and Sonos) are broadcasted through the network, allowing content to be streamed to any television or speaker throughout the property. This means, whether you are in the bedroom, living room or office, all sources are available and can follow you through the property. As the end user, complete control over your entire home is at your fingertips.


What Is Home Automation & Integration Systems?


Home integration is the incorporation of entertainment, climate control, security, and other technologies within a residential environment to create a unified and immersive experience. “Home automation” and “integrated systems” are related concepts in the realm of smart home technology, but they refer to various categories within a connected home.

Home Automation focuses on completing everyday tasks within the property, such as lighting or climate control to create ease of use. However, an integrated system involves the coordination of various subsystems to talk to each other. For example, the heating tells the cooling that it has been activated, therefore the cooling must de-active creating a conflict free, cohesive system. Home automation can be part of an integrated system, but an integrated system may go beyond automation to incorporate the coordination of diverse technologies. Key components of integrated systems may include:

  • Network & Connectivity: A robust network infrastructure to support the seamless operation of both wired and wireless devices.
  • Centralised Control Systems: Allows you to manage and control multiple AV and smart home components from one device simplifying the user experience and providing easy access to all connected devices.
  • Multi-room Audio Systems: Distributing audio throughout different zones in the house, allowing individuals to enjoy music or other audio content from a centralised source.
  • Multi-room Video Systems: Distributing video throughout different zones in the house, allowing individuals to enjoy video content from a centralised source.
  • Lighting and Shade Control: Integration of smart lighting systems that can be controlled through stylized keypads or smart devices. Further control can be provided based on time, occupancy, or other factors, enhancing the ambience of different rooms.
  • HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning): Commonly regulated through a building management system (BMS), known for its typically less user-friendly interface. By integrating the control into a unified system, the user experience is significantly improved and easy to access.
  • Home Theatre/ Media Room Systems: The integration of high-quality audio and video components to create a dedicated home theatre experience. This includes large screen displays or projectors, surround sound systems, acoustic treatment and (let’s not forget) comfortable seating.

In recent years, an IT network has become increasingly important in systems integration as it provides a way for information to pass between various systems. As the network now forms a communication backbone, it is imperative that it is both strong and resilient.


What Makes An IT Network Strong & Resilient? Why Is This Important?


When we refer to the strength of a network, we are talking about the free flow communication between devices within an infrastructure. A strong network allows information to pass without interruption as all the components in the chain can cope with the volume of information passed between them. Resilience, sometimes referred to as reliability, ensures that networks components are stable, less likely to develop faults and can recover quickly and without issue from unforeseen issues, such as disruptions to power or cables being accidently cut and then repaired. For example, a resilient network can respond quickly when disrupted, leading to less network downtime, avoiding miscommunication, and ensuring everything is working as it should; it is more equipped to face risks. A strong and reliable network is crucial for the successful implementation and optimal performance of any home integration system. This is because it provides the foundation for all IT services needed to effectively run the connected devices within the residence; Below are several reasons highlighting the importance of a robust network:

  • Content Streaming and Distribution: Ensures smooth streaming and distribution of audio and video content throughout the home. Whether you are watching a movie, streaming music, or accessing content from different devices, a reliable network is essential for uninterrupted playback.
  • AV over IP Systems: Many AV home integration setups, especially those involving multi-room audio and video, rely on AV over IP technology. A robust network infrastructure is necessary to support the transmission of high-quality audio and video signals over the network. (More on this below!)
  • Scalability: Allows for the easy scalability of home integration systems. As you add more devices or expand the system, a strong network ensures that the additional load is handled without compromising performance.
  • Security: Security is a critical consideration when integrating AV systems with the network. A strong network infrastructure with proper security measures helps protect against unauthorized access and ensures the privacy and integrity of your data.
  • Maintenance: All AV devices and components receive firmware updates over the network. A strong network enables reliable and efficient updates, ensuring that your AV system stays up to date with the latest features and security patches.
  • Reliability and Consistency: AV home integration systems require a consistent and reliable network to deliver a high-quality user experience. Network interruptions, dropouts, or slow connections can result in degraded performance and frustration.

A strong network is the backbone of an integrated system, supporting continuous communication, distribution of content, and centralised control. Investing in a reliable network infrastructure ensures that your AV system operates smoothly and meets the demands of a connected and integrated home environment.


How Has The AV World Evolved With Technology?


Other than how we consume media, the main difference between AV systems today, compared to a decade ago, is the use of network communication to transmit and distribute audio and video signals. This new generation of AV is called AV over IP (Audio-Visual over Internet Protocol).

Traditionally AV systems would use Point-to-Point Wiring. Audio and video signals are transmitted through dedicated cables and connectors directly between the source device (e.g., Apple TV, Sky Q) via a matrix switch, sending content to the display device (e.g., TV, projector). Each connection typically requires its own set of cables. Matrix switching is used to distribute signals to multiple displays or speakers. However, this often involves complex cabling, and the distance over which signals can be transmitted may be limited. Generally, the number of inputs and outputs within a matrix are fixed. When the limit is reached, adding another source or display would be quite cost heavy as the only solution is to increase the matrix to the next fixed size up.

AV over IP setups primarily use the network infrastructure to transmit high-quality audio and video content. This allows for more flexibility in signal distribution over longer distances as multiple network components can be used to extend them. Unlike the matrix systems of previous years, AV over IP allows several sources to be routed to a near unlimited number of display devices through the network, which makes the system easy to scale. An added benefit, most of the new generation systems require less equipment and that equipment is of a smaller size, resulting in less space, power draw and cabling required in the central racks. Now, any outlet with data cabling round the home can have a source, display or amplifier connected to it so devices can be added or removed with ease. AV over IP supports multicast transmission, meaning that a single source can efficiently broadcast to multiple endpoints simultaneously. Although centralised management of AV devices allows for more streamlined control and monitoring, it is now possible to decentralise systems without any impact to the users’ experience.


Traditional AV System Topology



AV Over IP System Topology




What Are The Benefits of AV Integration?


AV home integration offers numerous benefits, enhancing the overall entertainment, comfort, and convenience of your living space. As well as the points mentioned above, other benefits of AV home integration include:

  • Multi-Room Entertainment: Allows users to watch and listen to content throughout the home, with the ability to pause in one room and resume in another.
  • Single User Interface: By integrating AV components and using centralised systems, you can reduce the clutter of multiple remotes, cables, and devices. This not only enhances the aesthetics of your living space but also simplifies the user experience.
  • Multiple Dwellings: All properties can use the same user interface, keeping familiarities when moving from home to home.
  • Out of Sight: Discreet solutions in the AV industry refer to technologies and installations that are unobtrusive, inconspicuous, and effortlessly integrated into the environment. These discreet solutions play a crucial role in enhancing the overall user experience and maintaining the aesthetic integrity of a space. Users can focus on the content and functionality without being distracted by visible cables, equipment, or intrusive devices. Most solutions can be tailored to fit various environments, from residential homes to commercial spaces. They can be adapted to different architectural styles and design preferences.
  • Futureproofing: Discreet installations can be designed with future technology upgrades in mind. This adaptability ensures that the AV system can evolve along with advancements in audio-visual technology without major disruptions.
  • Enhanced Connectivity: All devices are connected to the centralised system, allowing for easy sharing, and streaming of content. This can include connecting local devices such as gaming consoles, streaming devices, Blu-ray players, and more.
  • Increased Home Value: A well-designed AV integration system can add value to your home. Potential buyers may find the convenience and entertainment capabilities of a home automation systems appealing, making your property more attractive on the market.




In summary, home automation involves automating specific tasks in a home, while an integrated system brings together various technologies providing a centralised and unified control experience for the user. It aims to create a cohesive and user-friendly environment where individuals can enjoy entertainment, control various aspects of their home, and enhance overall comfort and convenience.

Traditional AV relies on point-to-point wiring and localised control. In contrast, AV over IP leverages the network infrastructure for a more flexible, scalable, and centralised distribution of audio and video signals. This allows for any simple network infrastructure to be turned into a high-end multi-media system, with the added benefit of less clutter. AV over IP has become increasingly popular as technology has advanced, offering solutions that meet the demands of modern multimedia environments. For interior designers and architects, discreet AV solutions allow them to maintain the intended design vision without compromising on technological capabilities. This is especially important in high-end residential or commercial projects.