Today’s “smart” home capabilities provide many benefits, including significant time savings and lower utility bills. Devices such as thermostats that “learn” our preferences save even more time, but the concept of the device “knowing” and “listening” can be a bit off-putting. What keeps more people from diving into smart home technology, however, is how difficult it can be to figure out, connect, and optimize.
Raphaela O’Brien (“Ella” to her friends) can help. She can custom-automate your home’s operating systems, appliances, and entertainment equipment to your precise needs and preferences. She understands what simple conveniences can do for one’s quality of life, “I want to make people’s lives easier by helping them use automation in their homes, in their business, and in their life in general,” she says. Her company, AIVI Global (where AIVI stands for Automation, Integration, Visual and Infrastructure) is 100% woman-owned and has a mission to utilize every technological advantage to make our homes work with us and for us to reduce stress.
AIVI began as a security firm focused on cameras and security systems for businesses, Ella’s appreciation of the difficulty in deploying some of the popular automated systems led her to reach out to assist homeowners experiencing the same frustrations. Now, most of her clients are families looking to conserve energy or those looking to utilize technology to help themselves or a loved one “age in place.” Some of the most helpful advancements for the elderly or infirm include refrigerator sensors to monitor grocery needs, motion sensors in the bedroom or bathroom to make sure folks are still getting around, or even hidden cameras to monitor in-home health-care providers or companions.
Ella typically begins with a client by asking them what problem they want to address. While some issues are universal—such as folks with young children being frustrated with lights being left one—clients with the same problem may want different solutions. For example, Ella offers, “We look at whether they’d find it easier to have motion sensors installed or lightbulbs that they can turn on and off via an app on their phones. Do they want analytics to find out when there is no one in the room the lights turn off so they can address the problem with a click, or do they want the system to regulate itself?” What about the eponymous temperature conflict? So many couples say, “I’m always cold but he’s always hot and we’re trying to sleep in the same room together.” Ella offers couples a compromise, where one part of the house is warmer, and another is cooler. Basically, AIVI Global can focus and help fix what drives you “most insane at home.”
It may sound simple, but the key to Ella’s success is making sure that the automation put in place to solve a problem doesn’t become an annoyance itself. “You have to find what works best for each family,” Ella says. “Some people like to get the pop-up alerts; other people just want the lights to go off, they don’t want to think about it or press anything.... You also don’t want to put in a solution that forces someone to always have to call their kids or grandkids to help them figure out how to work it. We always consider how tech-savvy the person is and how much they’re willing to learn, and find a solution that will work for them.”
AIVI Global (https://www.aiviglobal.com/) offers a few generic packages using a short list of best-in-breed autonomous tools (e.g., smart locks, lights, and plugs; apps and sensors) that work for most people but is willing to customize solutions based on the lifestyles of any family.
“Depending on what you’re interested in automating and integrating, we can pull that together for you,” she says; even if it’s as simple as configuring that Google Nest you decided to buy. “We do that all day, every day!”
Written by Lana Hunanian