What used to be in the realm of science fiction is becoming mainstream, according to Murat Erbatur, president of MCM Integrated Technologies, a player in the growing home automation market.
"I've always been involved in computers, going as far back as 1969, when they filled huge rooms," Erbatur notes.
After working as an engineer for more than 20 years, Erbatur decided to start his own business in 1994. The company evolved from software into hardware sales and services. As computers became a commodity,"we started looking into other ways to leverage our tech knowledge,"Erbatur explains. "About four or five years ago, we recognized that [we could] leverage that know-how into home automation and smart homes. We started exploring some of the new emerging technologies and products that were more vaporware than anything else. Vaporware is when a product is all talked about but really doesn't exist and hasn't been brought to market."
The company's information technology background and close partnership with Microsoft gave it an edge entering this market, he says. "Wealso recognized where Microsoft was heading with expansion into homeentertainment and have kind of grown in parallel with them," he says. "We saw the same potential they did."
Now, as more manufacturers have entered the arena and introduced components that are compatible with other systems, the opportunities have increased and prices have dropped, he says. Components for lighting, security and entertainment "can talk to each other," and be integrated with "new, open architecture systems." New communication standards are also boosting the market, he says.
"What used to be in the domain of multimillion-dollar homes in terms of smart homes has now become available and affordable for $200,000 to $300,000 homes and up," Erbatur states.
"And that, combined with Microsoft's Media Center entry in the marketplace, and all of a sudden, we've found ourselves with a much moreeconomical and reasonable way of creating smart home environments."
Technology, including lighting, security, audio and video, can allbe integrated intelligently into the home, he says. This might be something as simple as lights and music turning on in the hallway when the garage door is opened.
Or, rather than a light turning on and off when motion is detected, lights can come on in the house in a sequence that would indicate someone getting up out of bed and walking around to check it out and going back to bed, Erbatur explains.
MCM installed a simple lighting, camera and motion-detection system for less than $2,000 for a family going away for a few years. If cameras detected motion, the lights would come on and the cameras wouldrecord and "send an e-mail to the owner located halfway around the world through the Internet."
Erbatur says this comes in handy when an intruder is really a service person, such as pest control.
He anticipates strong growth in the home automation market, particularly with condo developers seeking an edge in their markets.
Erbatur says the technology can boost energy efficiency and help simplify wiring high-rises while making developments more attractive to consumers.
"We have successfully established some excellent working relationships with developers in British Columbia, as well as Phoenix, Arizona," he notes. "We will be implementing some smart home options for these condo developments, and, of course with the acquisition we are going through, we'll have the financial backing we need to expand further."
MCM is packaging wireless systems for condos and creating a franchise approach for installers in North America. Its primary target markets for the future include the greater Phoenix area, Atlanta, California and Toronto.
In September, MCM announced it had entered into a letter of intentto be acquired by Elgrande International. "Hopefully, that will giveus access to some public funding so we can grow and expand our business," Erbatur says.
RELATED ARTICLE: PROFILE
MCM Integrated Technologies Inc.
Projected sales $5 million
HQ Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Product Home automation
Murat Erbatur "Smart homes [have] now become available and affordable."
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