Automated shades: Save energy without sacrificing workplace happiness

office roller shadesIn early 2003, the New York Times Company approached the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory with a problem. The paper’s new corporate headquarters – an all-glass structure in Manhattan – was intended to be an architectural symbol of the paper’s commitment to “transparency.” But all that glass – in addition to providing a compelling metaphor – presented unique architectural challenges. The company wished to keep the building as “open” as possible, while still ensuring employees’ comfort and minimizing energy costs.

 

The company used this challenge as an opportunity to push the envelope in terms of sustainable design. The system they eventually developed – which combined automated shades with dimmable lighting and an underfloor air distribution system – consumed 24 percent less electricity and 51 percent less heating energy than a comparably sized building designed just to code. It also provided a tangible embodiment of the paper’s commitment to its readership.

 

Chances are you aren’t interested in the metaphorical implications of this anecdote. However, if you are responsible for managing a large space – whether it be a school, hospital or office building – the New York Times project has a lot to teach about good window design – a vital component in any energy saving strategy.

 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that nearly three-quarters of all U.S. commercial energy usage comes from lighting and HVAC systems. In this context, windows represent both a challenge and an opportunity.

 

Windows can save energy by reducing our dependence on artificial light and heating – to say nothing of the increased productivity that comes with plentiful sunshine and good views. Still, if not managed properly, windows can also increase glare and drive up cooling costs.

 

Increasingly, facilities managers are relying on building automation systems to help strike the appropriate balance. These systems range in price and complexity – with more advanced models integrating lighting controls, automatic shades, photocell daylight dimmers near windows and occupancy sensors.

 

Despite the promise these systems hold, one persistently annoying quirk is the lack in many of effective manual override controls. This point was driven home in a post-occupancy study of the New York Times’ offices. The study, in addition to demonstrating the environmental and economic merits of the experiment – highlighted some of the challenges inherent in daylighting schemes.

One of the most persistent of these is the inability of most systems, no matter how intelligent, to control for confounding factors like glare. For this, there is still no substitute for human intelligence. Studies have consistently found that workers in buildings with automated shade systems want to be able to manually override the system when necessary, and are frustrated when they cannot do so.

Knowing this back in 2003, the paper’s management insisted their system incorporate such an option. The company that eventually won the bid for the New York Times office relied on local switches and touch screens to override the controls.

 

QMotion has found a much more elegant and intuitive solution in its patented manual override feature, which allows shades to be raised or lowered with a simple tug, as well as from users’ smart phones, tablets, or home automation systems. The QMotion system – unique among its peers – can minimize workers’ frustration, ensuring that energy savings don’t come at the expense of workplace happiness.

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Smart outlets, talking toasters and Jetsons reruns: Home-tech trends to watch in 2015

qmotion honeycomb kitchen

It looks as if 2015 might be the year smart-home technology finally goes mainstream.

 

At least, that’s the conclusion of many industry analysts who attended this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, where smart-home tech abounded.

Past experience proves many of these gizmos – no matter how glittering or innovative – will never make it from the show room to the shelves.

Still, some will, and we’re excited to see what the new year brings. From power outlets that won’t burn your finger to talking ovens that will stop you from burning your dinner, our homes are getting wittier by the day.

 

Here’s our roundup of home trends to watch in the year ahead:

 

  1. Knowledge is power.

 

Earlier this year, Digital Trends predicted smart-home giant Nest’s next project would be to build a smarter power outlet. Unlike other products already on the market, they predicted these outlets would do more than allow users to remotely control their homes energy usage. Instead, they would learn from users’ behavior – cutting power to inactive, vampiric devices so they don’t drain power, for instance.

 

Recent innovations suggest they might not be far off. Just this year, Brio applied itself to the smart-outlet problem, releasing a line of outlets that eliminate the risk of electrocution by discerning between a plug and a foreign object (like a finger).

 

  1. You’ll spend more time talking to the walls. (And they might talk back.)

 

By now, we’ve grown accustomed to people talking to their phones. However, natural language processing technology is slowly creeping its way from our handsets to our homes.

 

Nest and Apple are positioned to be leaders in this field, making use of existing smartphone capabilities. However, other companies are hopping aboard, also. Among these pioneers is Dacor, which this year debuted an oven that responds to voice commands.

 

  1. Forget home visits, your home will become your healthcare provider. 

 

This year saw the intersection between mobile technology and health grow more crowded, with wearables blowing up in a big way. In 2015, expect this trend to spill over into the smart home field. Among the things you might see hit the shelves in coming months: Smart air purifiers that alert you when your allergies are at risk of flaring, motion detectors that track your activity and appliances that tell you when you need to lay off the cookies and pick up an apple.

 

  1. Besides talking to you, your appliances will get better at talking with each other, too. 

 

In many people’s minds, the word “smart-home” still evokes a Jetsons-like world where any domestic task – whether it be dimming the lights, cooking dinner or taking out the garbage – is only a command away.

 

Flights of fancy (and flying cars) aside, the smart-home field has more often resembled a clutter of systems with communication problems.

 

Standing on the cusp of 2015, more and more people are putting their mind to the task of addressing this problem, with Nest and Apple again poised to be leaders.
With technology moving at such a breakneck pace, it might not be long before you can control your entire domain from your Apple TV. Until then, there’s always Jetsons reruns.

 

You know what they say about glass houses …

 

Despite what people say, the annals of modern architecture are full of bold statements in glass.

It’s been nearly a century since architects first began deconstructing the traditional notion of the home as a box for living.

 

Today – inspired by their minimalist aesthetic and a growing emphasis on sustainability – architects continue to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor space.

 

One of the most famous examples of this aesthetic is architect Philip Johnson’s “Glass House,” in New Canaan, Conn.

 

The hilltop abode – built in the late 1940s on Johnson’s sprawling, 47-acre estate – overturned nearly every convention about what a home should look like, enveloping residents in 365-degree views of the surrounding countryside. It also gave the surrounding countryside 365-degree views of the residents.

 

While this bold artistic statement earned a place in the textbooks, it wouldn’t make an ideal home for those of us who prefer a little privacy now and again. All that glass, if not managed carefully, can also create a greenhouse effect that drives up energy bills – an impractical proposition in our increasingly energy-sensitive society

 

For those who want to bring the outdoors inside – with the option of letting it back out when a bit more discretion, or cool air, is warranted – automated window shades provide an ideal solution.

 

QMotion manufactures whisper-quiet shades that can be controlled from your iPhone of tablet or integrated with other home automation systems for maximum efficiency.

 

These shades can be set to automatically adjust throughout the day – so that glare and heat are minimized and your views are maximized – and, with our patented manual override feature, can be adjusted with a simple tug.

 

We can’t help you with the stones.

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Six interior design tips that will help you get the most from your windows

Motorized Drapery Rods

“The eyes are windows to the soul” might be a truism, but in the world of interior design, the windows are the eyes of the home, and your home says more than most things about who you are. That’s reason enough to put some thought into what they look like. But what, exactly, are the elements of good window design?

 

We’ve been thinking about this and put together a short list of tips to help. As with most design questions, the answer lies somewhere at the intersection of form and function:

 

  1. Function: Control natural light to maximize comfort. 

 

At a purely utilitarian level, windows are nature’s light fixtures. That said, your lighting needs will differ depending on whether you are designing a studio, a home theatre or a bedroom. In all cases, you should consider geography and celestial rhythms when making design decisions. A good rule of thumb is to work with nature, not against it.

 

Case in point: A wall of glass in your east-facing bedroom might seem like a great idea when you’re choosing blueprints in your architect’s office, but not so brilliant six months later when the sun comes blazing over the horizon.

 

  1. Form: Make your windows complement your style. 

 

Not all windows are created equal, and when choosing, you should consider the context. An antique, leaded glass window with a wooden casing might look right at home in a craftsman-style bungalow in the suburbs, but would be out of place in a modern condo in the city.

 

  1. Function: Control natural light to maximize energy savings. 

 

Comfort and style aside, window design also can impact your bottom line. If you have the luxury of designing your own home, you should keep this in mind from the very beginning, as you orient the building. Once again, work with nature, not against it.

 

If the foundation is already poured, you can still save the environment – and money – by installing energy-efficient windows. If a total overhaul is out of range, don’t fret. Thoughtfully selected window coverings can go a long way in saving energy, too.

 

Shutters and cellular shades – like QMotion’s very own honeycomb collection – are among the most energy-efficient options, because they provide an insulating barrier of air between the window and your interior. Automated shades also can help make your space more efficient, by dynamically adjusting to the sun’s rhythms to maximize energy savings.

 

  1. Form: Don’t neglect the view. 

 

Point No. 1 aside, windows are more than just light fixtures. They are our outlets to the world. So orient your home and windows to take advantage of the best views. Also, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Design your interior to complement the living artwork on your walls.

 

  1. Function: Consider your privacy needs when making window design decisions. 

 

Windows might be our eyes on the world, but they are also the world’s eyes on us. Bathrooms are a perfect example of spaces in which the needs for privacy and illumination often conflict. There are many ways to solve this problem.

You can use frosted, rather than transparent, glass; install clearstory windows by the roofline to admit light, while keeping out peeping toms; or, for more flexibility, install semi-transparent shades.

 

  1. Form: Make your windows a focal point. 

 

Sometimes, a departure from the norm is what is needed. If you want to give your windows that extra “ op,” try thinking outside the box. Manufacturers today make windows in all sorts of varieties that can add visual interest to an otherwise dull space.

 

Other ways to liven up your windows include painting the trim – Black-edged windows are all the rage these days – or experimenting with various window treatments.

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The road to enlightenment: Five daylighting retrofits that will help you rein in office energy costs

motorized roller shade

When considering how to cut energy use at your office, lighting is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle, accounting for roughly one quarter of total energy use, on average.

 

Technological advances are rapidly making lighting more efficient. However, technology is only one piece of the energy efficiency puzzle. Being attuned to nature – and making best use of sunlight – is just as important. After all, light didn’t first come on the scene when Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb.

 

Daylighting – the controlled use of sunshine to reduce artificial lighting – is a rapidly expanding corner of the sustainable building movement. The environmental benefits of this trend are obvious, but it’s not just a solid land ethic that has so many people invested.

 

According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, daylighting techniques can reduce energy costs by up to one-third. And the benefits don’t stop there.

 

Studies also have shown that natural light can increase worker productivity and decrease absenteeism, further contributing to the bottom line.

 

Today, architects are designing offices from the ground up to maximize these benefits, but you don’t have to start from scratch to see the light. Here are five retrofitting ideas that can help you cut energy consumption, increase productivity and save money:

 

  1. Install skylights. 

 

Skylights – though not possible in every space – can dramatically increase the amount of natural light in your office, eliminating the need for row after row of fluorescent tubes.

 

More advanced solutions – known as “active” skylights – incorporate a mirror system to track the movement of the sun and capture the optimum amount of light. Some systems even absorb less light during summer, to help balance daylighting and cooling needs.

 

As an added bonus, you’ll be able to host awesome stargazing office parties.

 

  1. Install daylight redirection devices. 

 

These devices take direct-beam sunlight and redirect it, generally onto the ceiling of a space. Doing so reduces glare by directing light away from workers’ eyes, while also ensuring light penetrates the space more deeply.

 

  1. Install automated shades. 

 

A successful daylighting strategy must balance the sometimes competing needs for light, comfort, aesthetics and efficiency. Automated shades help achieve this balance by minimizing solar heat gain, reducing glare and maximizing views without constant manual adjustment.

 

  1. Install an automated lighting system. 

 

Installing skylights, automated shades and expensive light redirection devices would be pointless if no one bothered to turn off the lights. There are many systems on the market today that use sensors, dimmers and predictive models to adjust to changing environmental conditions and make the best use of available natural light.

 

  1. Optimize your interior design. 

 

This final element of daylighting, though often overlooked, can make a big difference in your lighting needs. To maximize the use of available light, office partitions should be kept low, enclosed offices should be minimized, and walls and ceilings should be as reflective as possible.

 

Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way toward a healthier, more productive and more energy-efficient workplace.

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QMotion’s Innovative Wireless Drapery Rod Receives CE Pro 2014 BEST Award

QMotion Advanced Shading Systems released the industry’s first and only track-less, wireless motorized drapery rod which was recognized September 12th as one of CE Pro’s 2014 Best Electronic Systems Technologies.

The automated drapery rods are operated via remote control and each rod is equipped with an exclusive manual override feature, Touch Wand Activation, allowing users to gently ‘tap’ the wand to open or close draperies via movement sensing technology.

The battery-operated motorized drapery rod was chosen as one of 2014’s Best Electronic Systems Technologies by a panel of accomplished industry leaders and editors. Products were awarded based on innovation, functionality, competitive advantages and benefits for the end user. The groundbreaking technology behind these wireless drapery rods highlights QMotion’s dedication to offering quality window fashions while keeping ease of use for end users in mind.

To learn more about QMotion’s innovative, automated shades and window treatments visit www.QMotionShades.com.

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Smart Home Trends – Motorized Shading Control

Rising energy costs and the trend to “go green” have increased demands for products that reduce energy consumption. Installing motorized shades or blinds in your home or commercial space will allow ease of light management and help reduce utility bills while better controlling indoor temperatures.

“Smart” motorized shades can be programmed to adjust automatically throughout the day, so there is no need to remember to lower or raise shades. QMotion’s automated roller shade and cellular shade collections are a great addition to any eco-conscious home. These easy to install, battery-operated shades add a sleek and elegant look in homes or commercial workspaces.

Want even more savings? Try QMotion’s roller shade fabrics with KOOLBLACK™ technology. These advanced fabrics are patented to enhance dark colored yarn’s heat reflectivity for a 23% improvement in solar heat gain reduction.

Both automated roller shade and honeycomb collections are available with intuitive timing systems that automatically raise and lower with your local sunrise and sunset times. Use the timer remote to create a customized schedule or enter your ZIP code for smart control.

Because QMotion’s window fashions are battery-powered, there is no need for re-wiring or an electrician for installation. You can incorporate stylish automated shadins in your home within minutes. Lean more about QMotion Advanced Shading System’s eco-friendly shades here.

 

Automated Roller Shades with KOOLBLACK™ technology fabric.

QMotion automated roller shades with KOOLBLACK™ technology fabrics.

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September 23, 2014 · 5:00 pm

QMotion’s Innovative Products Receive Multiple 2014 WCMA Awards

QMotion Advanced Shading Systems is proud to announce its recent recognition at the 2014 Window Coverings Manufacturing Association Awards. Our innovative window fashions are developed with simplicity, function and elegance in mind. The annual WCMA Awards recognizes the industry’s best window coverings products and merchandising programs. This year, QMotion was recognized in four categories for best new technical enhancements, best technical innovation, best new style concept and most innovative overall.

 

Cellular-Shades-Best-New-TechEnHM-6Cellular Shades – Our innovative automated honeycomb shade collection won the Best New Technical Enhancement Award. These elegant and energy efficient window shades run on standard, alkaline batteries hidden within the headrail, which means no exposed wires and battery packs. Because all of QMotion honeycomb shades are spring counterbalanced, the motors move very easily and quietly.

 

MotoMotorization-Best-Tech-Inn-6rization – Our motorized Venetian blinds were recognized in motorization for the Best Technical Innovation in 2014. This new line operates via remote, smart phone or tablet and is scheduled for release Fall 2014. QMotion automated venetian blinds are the only battery-operated motorized blinds that not only have the tilt function operated by remote control, but also can be raised and lowered with the remote.

 

Motorization-Best-New-Style-Con-6Motorization – QMotion’s motorized drapery rod collection took home the 2014 WCMA Best New Style Concept Award. These automated drapery rods are the industry’s first track-less design. We removed the external wires and motors to create an elegant drapery rod that will add elegance to your residential or commercial space.

 

MotorizaMotorization-Most-Inn-Overall-6tion – Our motorized drapery rods were also recognized as the 2014 WCMA Most Innovative Overall product. This groundbreaking technology uses touch to open or close draperies with our patent-pending Touch Wand Activation.

 

Stay tuned for the latest from QMotion Advanced Shading Systems!

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