New innovations in technology designed to mitigate the risks in wet environments are pushing the boundaries of where AV equipment can be enjoyed in the home. Will Uttley of ProofVision looks at the latest products
Over the past two decades, developments in digital technology and the rise of the internet have had a phenomenal impact on our lives, changing the very fabric of our society as well as how we live day-to-day.
In recent years, smart home solutions have changed the face of domestic living, controlling everything from energy and security to audio-visual and home entertainment and offering a level of comfort, control and efficiency that meets the requirements of 21st century life.
In the 1970s, having a TV in the living room was somewhat of a luxury; fast-forward to today and nothing is off limits in terms of audio-visual installations. From bathrooms to gardens, TVs and integrated sound systems are popping up in the most unlikely of locations, adding a luxury element to renovation projects and new builds.
This trend is part of a wider movement towards home automation, a market which is expected to grow rapidly over the next five years. Despite initial resistance, most people now have a better understanding of internet- connected technology and around 30 per cent are planning to purchase a smart home device over the next two years, according to PwC. Unsurprisingly, young homeowners are the biggest adopters; around 59 per cent of them have already invested in smart entertainment.
The bathroom might not be the first room you think of when implementing smart technology into your home, however, a quick Google search will bring you up to speed on the sheer volume of smart tech designed specifically for the bathroom. Once a purely functional space, these innovative gadgets have transformed the bathroom into an integrated hub of connectivity, comfort and entertainment.
With advanced user recognition on the rise, homeowners’ expectations are changing. A personalised bathroom experience is becoming the norm, with pre-programmed settings to control vanity lighting, music and shower features such as temperature, timing and flow – some will even mist your favourite essential oils while you wash.
Japanese-style smart toilets are becoming more commonplace, offering heated seats, night lights, bidet functions and automated cleaning cycles, increasing hygiene and efficiency while reducing the domestic workload.
Binge-watch while you bathe
To meet growing demand for luxury bathroom installations, waterproof audio-visual solutions have been developed which allow homeowners to enjoy modern creature-comforts – the latest must-watch series or a calming playlist – while relaxing in a hot bubble bath.
However, getting it right in terms of technical specification is key. Home automation systems and integrated AV devices are a long-term investment. You need to make sure any products you buy are fit for purpose, future-proof, and ideally incorporated into the bathroom design from the outset.
For optimum performance in this challenging environment, certain technical features are essential. Water resistance is clearly up there with the most important features, so look for a high IP rating on all appliances. This stands for Ingress Protection and indicates the degree of protection from solid particles and moisture. For a bathroom TV, a rating of IP65 will ensure your TV is dust tight and able to withstand water projected from a nozzle. However, for a waterproof remote control a higher rating of IP67 is necessary, which will ensure protection even when fully submerged.
Aside from safety issues, your bathroom TV should have all the capabilities of a regular top-of-the-range TV: 4K Ultra HD and built-in amplifiers are available on some models now for the full cinematic experience. But even if you’re planning a more discreet installation, picture and sound quality should still be a top priority.
When it comes to luxurious bathroom design, less is definitely more. Minimalism is the order of the day and a professional AV installer will be able to help you achieve this by running cables though walls and behind tiling to ensure a smooth finish.
In terms of product features, look for ultra slim models that can be fitted flush with the wall, heated LED screens to prevent misting and a mirror finish; this way, the TV is disguised and functional when not in use.
Connectivity & integration
Even if you’re not planning a full home automation system now, it might be something you think about in the future. If your bathroom TV is to stand the test of time, it should feature extra connectivity through IR and RS232 over IP control. This allows the TV to be integrated with leading home automation systems, such as Crestron and Control4, and when you’re not watching, you can monitor your home security or manage other devices around the house. In addition to this, your TV should have all the usual spec: smart TV capabilities, built-in FreeView and a range of ports, including HDMI, USB and VGA.
Don’t overlook your bathroom – it has huge potential when it comes to introducing integrated smart technologies into your home. With the installation of a personalised network of smart services, your trip to the bathroom can be an ‘experience’ rather than a necessity. Innovative AV technology combining cutting-edge technical specification with a water-resistant shell adds the icing on the cake, bringing an element of luxury to the comfort of your own home.
Will Uttley is managing director of ProofVision