How They Did It: Digital Foresight

Apr 06, 2015

Nine years ago Graytek had the foresight to provide a good foundation for the future expansion of this home automation system. In anticipation of future technology advancements, they wired the home extensively, allowing for subsequent possible updates. They were then able to perform an extensive upgrade to bring the existing system to current standards with a very reasonable construction time and budget. By designing and programming a system that was exceptionally simple to navigate and troubleshoot, their work earned them the Level III Silver Technical Design award for Integrated Home in CEDIA’s 2014 Electronic Lifestyles® Awards competition.

This client required that the nine year-old analog system be upgraded to the digital era. They wanted a system that allowed them to more easily interact with the home, especially while entertaining guests. A system that could be controlled remotely through iOS devices and provide a feeling of security and peace of mind during the homeowners’ absence was extremely important. 

The physical layout of the game room was designed by the previous homeowners, and the current homeowners found the room was not conducive to entertaining (e.g. it was difficult to play pool and see the television at the same time). The clients wanted the game room system to be updated and moved to create better flow and functionality.

The System:

The primary objective of the new system was upgrading it from analog to digital. The existing component video matrix system could not accommodate today’s HDMI-specific equipment, such as the Blu-ray players and Apple TV requested by the client. The update to HDMI also required that they change the surround-sound receivers at every television location. 

An additional video zone was added in the kitchen where a legacy touch panel was located. The client specified they wanted to be able to control the system through their various iOS devices. In addition to adding three 10-inch Crestron touch panels, the system is also fully controllable through the client’s iOS devices.

Although the original system ran flawlessly, the homeowners wanted an updated distributed audio system that could be controlled by their iOS devices, with access to their iTunes, and streaming music services. As a cost-saving measure, Graytek retained the existing audio zones and wiring and used the existing amplifiers, but incorporated a Crestron audio matrix. They installed a 5-stream Mirage music server to allow the clients to stream music subscription services, local and internet radio, personal music libraries (iTunes), and AirPlay directly from their iOS devices. 

An alarm integration module and a dedicated QM-RMC processor allowed Graytek to integrate the existing HAI alarm system so the homeowners could access the alarm through touch panels and iOS devices to check on the home and arm/disarm the alarm system. The existing four cameras were tied into a DVR and integrated into the system so they could be viewed on the touch panels and iOS devices. 

The client wanted the ability to control the pool and hot tub lights, as well as monitor and adjust the temperatures. The pool waterfall feature is fully controllable through the Crestron system, even sensing when the pool cover is closed and overriding the power command to prevent flooding. 

Two speakers were added to the game room to upgrade it from 5.1 to 7.1 surround sound. The existing speakers remained in place but the wiring was altered to adjust for the two additional speakers and the new television location. 

The existing media room was transformed to include a racing simulator system. Graytek upgraded the receiver and television to accommodate the client’s high-res video game consoles and replaced discrete speakers with a custom speaker bar designed to fit a new 60” television.


The challenges Graytek faced in upgrading the system were minimal due to the existing infrastructure being extensive and all-encompassing. Nine years ago, when the original system was designed and installed, they had the foresight to rough-in wire to “future proof” the system against further advancements in technology. They wired for the future, anticipating the switch from analog to digital video. 

The game room setup had to be changed to meet the client’s needs. The television was moved from the east wall to the north wall, which meant that the existing 5.1 surround system had to be adjusted and expanded to accommodate a 7.1 surround system. 

The client had a past negative experience with a poorly executed home automation system and approached the project with skepticism. Graytek had to continually demonstrate the merits of their proposed system to reassure the client that the flaws in their previous home automation experience were not a reflection of home automation as a whole. By providing an extremely straightforward, intuitive system, they successfully proved to the homeowners that home automation, when done correctly, is not unmanageable or problematic. 

Integration & Automation Highlights:

Graytek converted this nine-year old analog system, comprising of standalone automation, to a sophisticated, easy-to-use Crestron system. Because the homeowners are very social, and entertaining is an important part of their daily lives, the system was designed for them to use the various functions, in different zones, simultaneously, without interfering with each other. They replaced first generation touch panels with high-resolution Crestron touch panels, significantly upgraded the legacy system, which could not be controlled remotely through personal electronic devices, and brought it into the age of personal remote access through the use of iOS devices and laptops. 

Project Partners:


Home Technology Professional
Coquitlam, BC

Margot Innes Design 
Vancouver, BC

Nexus Construction
Vancouver, BC


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CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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