Expert in easy living, working and caring.
You don’t become an home automation expert overnight. Kariem Makhlouf was interested in electronics and software from an early age. It started when he took apart the computer of his father, after which his father thought him how to rebuild it. In no-time Kariem became the local computer helpdesk for his family and friends.
During his college study Business Informatics, Kariem became intrigued by the rapidly developing world of smart home automation. Since there were hardly any companies focused on smart home solutions, Kariem decided to start his own smart home automation company in 2014, Comfortica.
Smart home solutions are personal
Many smart home solutions that Kariem and his team offer, are solutions to problems they faced themselves in day-to-day life. For instance, when Kariem and his girlfriend moved in together, he realized that it would be smart to have one button that could switch off all appliances at once. So, discussions like ‘did you turn off the heat and locked the doors’ would be avoided. When his young boy started to crawl and thus discover the world, he found it reassuring he could cut off the power to outlets.
Comfortica offers a great variety of smart home & business solutions. Reason for this extensive package of services has to do with the simple fact that many smart home services interact with one another. A wireless smart home system, for instance, needs good network coverage. And many security systems not only integrate very well in smart home systems, these systems also complement each other. Therefore, Comfortica started to specialize in security systems and wireless networks as well.
From private to business and care solutions
As customers saw what smart home solutions could offer them at home, more and more of them were interested to know whether Comfortica could apply these solutions to their business as well. The technique being the same, this of course was no problem. The variety of smart home and smart business solutions is what actually makes the job interesting for Comfortica. That they are able to support care facilities with smart home solutions nowadays, makes the job even more rewarding.
Comfortica’s mission is to find the best smart home solution. Whether that is for at home, at the office or to improve care. Want to live and work as comfortable, safe and sustainable as possible? Comfortica makes it happen.
No day is the same
At college Peter Witkamp started enthusiastically with Creative Technology, switched to Advanced Technology, to end up with Electrical Engineering. One thing became very clear to him when attending college: it was lagging behind the industry. Peter: ‘If you want to learn anything when it comes to modern technology, you learn more on the job.’ Thanks to this brother Comfortica crossed his path.
No house the same
Like his colleagues, the best part of his job is that no day is the same when working with smart home automation. ‘Every client, every house is different. Where one client is all about energy efficiency and sustainability, the other client is struggling with a disability and needs help to live independently for as long as possible. That last part is something I really like about my work, that I can help people make life easier.”
‘And sometimes it’s just plain cool what I do. Like for a client that had an electric turntable in his garage, for which we had to integrate the control into the FIBARO app. Or that we turned 8 smart home automation controllers into 1 system for a large company, so you didn’t have to switch between the different controllers within the app. But I find being able to turn off all your lights at once still cool as well.’
Peter finds the most rewarding challenge helping people in need of extra support to be able to live independently. ‘A door for instance has to open automatically. End of discussion. When a door closer doesn’t open automatically sufficiently, we don’t stop until it does.’
Another project he really enjoyed, was making the police station of the Dutch city Oldenzaal more sustainable. ‘The blinds now go down automatically when the temperature reaches a certain point. Because of this it’s like we created automated cooling without an air con.’
At home only his lighting is smart. ‘My house is a rental and I only want to seriously invest in a complete smart home system when I have property of my own. However, I truly enjoy having the possibility to turn off any light in my house even when in bed. Each time I accidently forget the lights downstairs for instance – I can simply turn them off using the button on my nightstand. I also created two lighting scenes: standard and movie.’
Peter’s tips for starters
Want to start creating a smart home as well? Peter’s tips for starters –
Tip 1: Start with your lights. Smart dimmers are rnot much more expensive than regular ones, however they are way easier to adjust when you, later down the road, want to upgrade your lighting to smart lighting.
Tip 2: Not completely convinced you want a smart home? Start with a cheap(er) product. If you however are convinced you want to go big when going smart, choose one system: FIBARO. Not only because it is a very stable system thanks to the Z-Wave protocol, but also because it ‘plays’ well with other systems.
Tip 3: Already have several different brands and/or protocols? The Homey works well with a lot of different brands and systems.
Being persistent pays off
Every day a new challenge, that’s what employee Marco ter Weeme loves about smart home automation. No challenge is impossible to him. On the contrary, when somebody says something can’t be done, his first question is ‘why not’? Followed by ‘how can we make it happen anyway?’
After his study metal and electrical engineering Marco started working for theater productions. He was the man behind the technique for the shows of world-known magician Hans Klok and worked for theatre producer Joop van den Ende. The theatre years were a lot of fun, but also stressful in which he was on the road constantly. So, after years of being away from home a lot and his wife having a “bun in the oven”, Marco decided it was time to go back to his first love: to install. Being at home again in the evenings and weekends being a welcoming bonus.
Every day a new challenge
The career switch Marco was looking for, meant a lucky break for Comfortica’s owner Kariem Makhlouf, who already had tried to persuade Marco several times to come work for him. Now, happily working for Comfortica, Marco finds the most fun part of his job that he gets to find a solution for a different challenge each and every day. Marco: ‘We had a homeowner who wanted a 100% voice-controlled, switch-free house, which was quite the challenge. But we made it happen. Even the temperature of the shower can now be changed by voice demand.’
At the same time, Marco thinks it’s just as cool that he can ensure that a disabled person in a mobility scooter can now open a door automatically from a distance without having to get out of their scooter first to be able to unlock a door. ‘I love it that smart home automation makes life way easier for people in need of extra help and that it enables you to live independently and stay at home longer. Thanks to smart home automation I was able to have Google remind my parents to take their meds.’
It shows how a simple smart solution can make a world of difference.
In his own house Marco of course also implemented smart solutions. He did so for his curtains, lights, access to his shed (‘Great when a package gets delivered when I’m not at home’.) and his heating. The lights in his house automatically turn it down a notch after 8 pm, and he can also turn off the lights by voice control. ‘Which comes in handy when you already are in bed and realize the lights in the hallway are still on.’ The latest smart home solutions will of course be geared towards baby monitoring and kid safety solutions.
Everything can be automated
On the bridge of creating a smart home? Marco has two tips:
1. You can automate everything as long as you know the right people.
2. Stick to one system – this way you can control everything with one single app.
Marco ter Weeme
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