Thursday, March 11, 2010

Your guide to live like Batman

An underground cave with a crime-solving computer, a supersonic jet, and a Batmobile may not be attainable, but revolving fireplaces and secret knock detecting door locks sure are.

Making a secret entrance is always the first step to creating your own superhero’s lair. Maybe this is just a Steve thing, but Steven Humble and Steve Hoefer have created two innovative pieces of technology that can make anyone feel like they’re about to enter Batman’s Batcave.

Humble began his Arizona-based business Creative Home Engineering in 2004 after researching and finding that many people desired either a revolving fireplace or a secret passage bookcase in their homes. With a mechanical engineering degree and $5,000 in the bank, Humble was able to begin a unique business.

Although copycat businesses have been created since then, Humble claims his company creates “high-dollar projects where they can twist a candlestick or rotate a fireplace.”

“My inspiration to making these features are a lot of movies, such as “Indiana Jones,” “The Saint” and “James Bond,” he said. “Everyone loves the bookcase that opens after you grab the book.” Bookcases start at $6,000, but the average price is about $10,000.

“Our cheapest feature starts at $2,000 and this is a secret door behind a mirror,” he said. If you’re looking to make a bigger investment, Humble admits that the rotating fireplace ranges from $30,000 to $50,000. The rotating fireplace allows you to enter into a whole new room. They even match any existing woodwork.

But this is not all the company has to offer. They have been known to build secret doors behind dressers, paintings, mirrors, wardrobes and grandfather clocks. The company’s motto is: “If you can dream it, we can build it.”

“Our customers usually buy these features to hide their high-security vault room or just something fun for their kids – it is 50/50,” Humble said. The company has provided service to people across the world and also to celebrities.

“Last week, we installed a feature for Bill Gates at his home in Seattle,” he said. He has also installed features for race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and movie producer J.J. Abrams.

Hoefer, of San Francisco, does things a bit differently from Humble. He provides DIY directions for creating one’s own secret knock detecting door lock.

The lock is a contraption placed inside of the door that connects to the handle and that records your secret knock pattern. The only way to get access through the door with this contraption is to perfectly mimic the knock you recorded.

“I was looking for a project that would help me learn more about physical computing,” Hoefer said, on how he became interested in making the lock. After figuring out how to create it, “I thought that would be the end of it, but I was surprised to find it struck a chord with so many people.”

Though he provides directions on how to make the lock on his blog, he recently decided to make a kit that is easy and affordable for people to purchase.
“It won’t be available until the summer, but in the meantime people have been creating their own,” he said.

Hoefer claims that using his contraption would go great with secret passage bookcases to provide extra security, which is where Humble comes in. “I’ve always wanted to do this since I was a kid,” he said.

In fact, Hoefer claims this may be a better choice than simply pulling a book from the bookcase to get access because “the unlock mechanism is completely invisible and only someone who knows where and how to knock can get in.”

So you’ve got the clandestine entrance, but there are other essential items you can add to your home to feel like you’re living in a superhero’s lair.

1) Lorex – Digital Wireless Video Monitoring System – - $129.99-149.99 – Surveying your lair from the evil villains of Gotham City is never a bad idea – This wireless video monitoring system features a micro receiver that plugs directly into the back of most DVRs, TVs or monitors and a surveillance camera with a CMOS image sensor for clear, detailed images.

2) Electric projector screen - - Starting at $175 – Batman owned a state-of-the-art hologram projector and well, this is close enough and of course, a lot cheaper. Hook it up to your digital system and see the a maximized version of what's going on around your lair. - Once the screen is pulled down, enjoy the screen's matte white viewing surface, which diffuses projected light uniformly over the screen creating ideal viewing from any angle.

3) 21.5” iMac computer- $1,199.00 - Maybe you won’t fight actual crime, but you can always pretend while playing crime-fighting video games on this PC. –
Comes with a 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4BG memory, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 500GB hard drive, big LED-backlit displays, wireless keyboard and magic mouse standard, environmentally friendly and the overall best iMac yet.

Meet Steve Humble:

and Steve Hoefer:

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