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Sat 4 Jul 2009 04:00 AM

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Green home automation

With the environment high on the region's agenda, developers may now avoid integrating luxury items into their buildings. But, Platinum Vision director Brocus Burrows explains how the lavish home automation system has never been greener.

Green home automation

With the environment high on the region's agenda, developers may now avoid integrating luxury items into their buildings. But, Platinum Vision director Brocus Burrows explains how the lavish home automation system has never been greener.

Why did you choose to set up business in the Middle East?

We came out here because we had some clients in the UK who were building villas in Emirates Hills but they couldn't find anyone with enough experience locally. They asked us to put a design together for their villas so we decided to move here to run projects and find some more business. Three months later, we were in talks with Nakheel to put together a design for the Trump Tower residencies. We designed a fully integrated design including home cinemas, multi room music, blind control and lighting control for the project but the contract was then put on hold in December 2008.

So did you have to rethink your business strategy?

Yes, we started to design our environmental system, which is a lighting, HVAC and blind control, door entry security system. This has possible upgrades to incorporate multi room music and home cinemas. We realised that this system gives the end user much more control of their energy consumption and it would save them money on bills. Our company has since been working with various developers in Abu Dhabi, Umm Al Quwain, Qatar and Bahrain designing these systems and they have been very well received.

But, amplifiers and home cinemas use a lot of energy. Now the UAE has become a member of the International Renewable Energy Agency, will this create a problem when trying to sell your systems?

People have them anyway. People will have a TV in the bedroom, a TV in their sitting room and they will leave them on when they are in a rush. With our system they can switch everything off when they walk out the door or they can call the system up using their mobile and switch everything off while they are at the office. Also, these systems aren't being plugged into the mains; they are running off plug sockets so your allocation for plug sockets in your apartment will remain the same. Having DVD players, amplifiers and multi room music systems is not going to be a talking point at an environmental conference about the draw of energy of Middle East. What we are worried about is that these systems are being left on when people are not using them.

Aren't you worried that with the down turn, more projects could be put on hold and your contracts stalled again?

There are still a lot of projects going ahead and there are new designs still going on. I believe that us moving here when we did, was probably the right time. A year ago developers could put their empty apartments on the market and they would sell. Now buyers are a bit wiser, they know an apartment won't disappear in a week and they have a lot of units to choose from. So, developers need something unique to make their buildings sell.

Are home automation systems expensive? Will there be a gap in the market for them during these hard times?

We don't try and sell products that the end user isn't going to use. We want to design something that is specific to the clientele at their purchasing price. The system we put in a one bedroom apartment on the first or second floor, is not going to be the same, as what we put in the penthouse. You might include the infrastructure in the one bedroom apartment to upgrade to a multi room music system and a home cinema. Then above floor 20 you would maybe put multi room music in as standard, and a home cinema for the penthouse.

So does the system have to be integrated before a buyer moves in and not before?

Not necessarily, we did a fit on The Palm, which had 16 zones of music and eight TVs. There was a certain amount of wiring but there was not a lot of building work involved. If there is no infrastructure in place the client will have to go through that process. But, we are predominantly positioning ourselves in the market to talk to developers before they start appointing an MEP contractor because our design infrastructure and cable system is different to that of an MEP contractor. We would need to get in at the design stage if developers want to future-proof their building.

BioBrocas' primary role within Platinum Vision was to set the company up, develop a new business and to work alongside clients to determine the best method of promoting and presenting home automation systems. He has vast experience in business development and marketing in the entertainment and service sectors, as well as rebranding and launching companies.

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