Advancing technology has brought home cinema into everyday life. But as the smart home gets smarter, movie night is just the beginning
As winter draws near and the days become shorter, there is nothing quite like being at home with your loved ones, snuggled in front of your own home cinema. Where previously this technology was available exclusively to the superrich, today’s digitised living has made home cinemas more accessible to everyone — and more in demand than ever before.
“Home cinemas are very popular in the Algarve and across the market,” says Duncan Ellis, founder and owner of Ellis Audio Visual Technology, an Algarve-based home intelligence company specialising in installing home cinemas, security and automation technology into homes across the region, Europe and beyond. “As a result, we’re now seeing more choice and more suppliers, which of course has brought more competitive pricing. Today, a simple cinema room with a good-quality project can be done for around €15,000, whereas previously this would have been €40,000-50,000.”
In fact, when the IMAX home cinema came out in 2017, it cost more than £1 million to install. In its original format, the home cinema was a dedicated room, built like a snug with plush red velvet seats, mimicking the traditional theatre and used exclusively for home entertainment. But with the dawn of the Netflix era, home entertainment is no longer saved for special occasions. Now, home cinemas are multi-functional rooms, kitted out to the highest specifications and designed to compliment the modern families’ lifestyle.
“What has grown in popularity are family rooms that have hidden cinema features. On a day to day basis, a large TV is used, but when there is a film to watch or sports event, a hidden screen and projector can be activated for big-screen entertainment,” explains Duncan.
The experience is enhanced by automation that, with the click of a button, will draw the blackout curtains, set ambient lighting and connect the wireless, crystal-clear audio speakers. “With home automation installed, the experience is very elegant, but it’s practical too; we generally find that cinemas without automation aren’t often used,” he says. This is because people tend to lack patience for rooms that need multiple remotes to operate them.
“Automation solves all of this and gives you a simple interface to use. As integrators, our goal is to take away the complication so you can enjoy your cinema without having to worry about how to use it,” Duncan explains. “A well designed, dual-purpose family cinema room will get lots of use, especially if it’s easy to use. The room is created to be part of day to day life, rather than just watching films at the weekend or when friends visit,” he states.
According to eMarketer — a market research company focusing on trends related to digital marketing, media and commerce — the number of smart speaker users in the United Kingdom will grow 31.6% to 12.6 million in 2019. So, while most home cinemas are currently controlled using a device such as an iPad, the technology is there to ask your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to “activate cinema mode” whenever your favourite TV series is released. But the home cinema is just one aspect of the modern smart home. As technology develops and digitises our everyday lives, home automation becomes more intelligent, useful and elegant in offering an enhanced modern lifestyle.
“Home cinema is simply a part of the whole system. It completes the loop of the smart home — and smart homes are here to stay,” says Duncan. “They offer great convenience and can save you money by monitoring rooms that are not being used and turning them off, scheduling pool pumps to save energy, detecting leaks to save water, but most of all, they give security to your home to protect your family.”
Just as technology has brought incredible lifestyle advantages, it has also brought threats to our privacy and information. It’s no surprise then, that intelligent home security systems are becoming homeowners’ first and foremost priority when installing home automation. “It’s important to be able to use the technology to your advantage and ensure non-authorised personnel cannot use it to theirs,” Duncan explains. “In the Algarve, there is a lax attitude to both network (Internet) security and security monitoring, and in reality people should focus on this a primary concern.”
From enhancing our everyday, to protecting us while we sleep, the modern home is adapting at full speed to keep up with our digital lifestyles. But, as advanced as our world becomes, it is still the cosy family movie nights that are the most special.