Master Of Your Domain

How many executives does it take to turn off a light switch? None, if it were up to Tyrie Jamerson, partner and CEO of Near Future, an integrator at the forefront of the burgeoning field of office automation. His Dallas-based firm is responding to a growing demand to transform workplaces into “smart offices,” with computerized features, such as programmed light switches, voice command systems, and remote security cameras.

Nationwide, integrators such as Near Future are blazing new trails by creating office automation solutions that barely existed a few years ago. Now affordable, futuristic offices are available to owners and property managers of commercial, medical, educational, and industrial facilities.

“The primary benefit of automating your office would be to streamline your operations, which should lead to some cost benefit,” says Jamerson, whose company specializes in integrating audiovisual, computer, voice, and surveillance systems in commercial buildings. “For example, when I travel, I’ll automate my lighting so that I don’t use up valuable electricity while I’m out of the office.” According to Jamerson, office automation prices range from $85,000 to $350,000.

Near Future, which generated revenues of $1.2 million in 2005 and expects $2 million in 2006, has been providing automation technology to the upscale W Hotel in Dallas.

Automation technology is not just available for high-end offices. Homeowners are tapping into residential market automation systems to control household functions, including lighting, heating and cooling, entertainment equipment, security systems, and even window shades.

Anthony Smalls, president and CEO of SmartHOME Solutions L.L.C. (, expects choices for home automation systems to expand as new models become available. “Today, anything from thermostats to energy controls, cameras, and speech enhancements can be done to automate your home,” says Smalls, who estimates the price tag on a fully-automated home at $3,500 to $15,000. “Before calling anyone, think about what things you would like your home to do to enhance its usefulness to you and the needs of your family.”

Interested in buying a home automation system? Here are five steps you can follow to find the right technology:
1. Do your homework. Learn about the types of automation systems available for your home or office. Peruse copies of Electronic House and TecHome Builder magazines or check out their Websites to learn about installation requirements.

2. Calculate your budget. The benefits of your home automation system will depend on what your budget will allow. The cost of home automation ranges from $2,000 for a basic system to more than $100,000 for state-of-the-art equipment, according to information featured on

3. Consider the right wiring packages. Since the best time to introduce automation into the home is during construction or renovation, ask your builder about wiring packages that will help you get the most out of your technology.

4. Wire with the future in mind. As you consider wiring a living room for your multimedia center or fitting out your whole house with the deluxe automation system, take into account that you may want to incorporate security, lighting, audio, and video in the future. Adding networking, audio, video,