As I write this, I am sitting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., it is snowing – making it hard to believe that it’s nearly spring! As the snow melts and the flowers begin to bloom, it’s time to begin enjoying our outdoor spaces. Pools are being readied for the season, BBQ’s are being scrubbed clean and awaiting that sizzle, and outdoor furniture is emerging from hibernation topped with cushions. What are we missing? The outdoor technology that makes it all that much better!
The options for music, movies, lighting, shading and network connectivity are just as plentiful in outdoor spaces as they are indoor. Special consideration, materials and placement are all required when using technology outdoors. When done correctly, it is possible to achieve amazing results with beautiful aesthetics.
While it is still possible to buy a “rock speaker,” why would you? They don’t even look like rocks! Instead, take a look at the fantastic landscape systems by James and Sonance. The speakers look like landscape lights and come in various finishes to match the styling of your outdoor space. They can be mounted in planters or hung like pendants from the trellis. The bass portion of the speaker is buried in-ground and out of sight. These systems scale infinitely, allowing for coverage of even the largest spaces. Another outdoor music favorite is the Bollard line from Coastal Source. It’s a different approach than landscape, and the sound is impeccable. For the price conscious, the team at Sonos have made battery-powered options like the Move and Roam. Think about it like owning one lightbulb and taking it room to room.
Movies by Moonlight (or Sunlight!)
Outdoor entertainment is not limited to music. When you want to turn your backyard into a sports haven or watch movies by the pool, there are more options than ever. The great folks at Seura have multiple options for bringing the viewing experience outdoors year-round! For areas that are sheltered they have a more affordable approach and when the display must compete in direct sunlight, they have a premium UltaBright range. For the cost-no-object solution, look no further than C-Seed. This massive screen hides underground and emerges like a missile launching before unfolding in truly theatrical fashion. It’s one of those products where watching it operate might be just as cool as what you are watching on it.
Light The Night
Once you have experienced proper landscape lighting you will never go without. The lighting products by Coastal Source are beautiful solid brass objects but what they bring to your outdoor space in a visual capacity is truly magical. What you choose to shine light on and how makes all the difference. The layering that can be achieved with illuminating the structures, foliage, pathways, decking, stairs, water features, etc. is nothing short of stunning. You’ll need a specialist to help you achieve the desired effect, but it’s well worth it.
A Shade Above
Sometimes we need a bit of a break from the sun. Outdoor shading options allow for much needed respite from the rays – and also the bugs! Exterior living spaces can be open on multiple sides and, with the push of a button, immediately screened in. The ability to still have the breeze and sunlight fill a space comes with the added benefit of reducing UV exposure and protecting you from insects. These can also be integrated with wind sensors to raise and protect the shades in heavy wind or hurricanes.
In an “always on” world, it is necessary to have access to the internet – everywhere. Besides, how would we get the kids to join us outside if we didn’t have rock solid internet in the backyard? Solutions from Ruckus and the network nerds at Access Networks allow you to have the same great speeds and reliability outside that you have grown accustomed to inside. These products can be concealed and placed to provide seamless “hopping” as you navigate throughout a property both inside and out.
I have been around consumer technology for twenty years, and I can honestly say that the current crop (pun very much intended) of outdoor technology solutions has never been better. The qualitative performance is unparalleled while the design aspects of finish, materials and concealment are nothing short of beautiful. Enjoy time outside with all of the comforts of inside.