A recent National Kitchen & Bath Association webinar gave insight into this important industry topic. As consumer expectations are increasing where technology is concerned, it is important than ever to stay on top of the trends.
Moderated by Ed Wenck, CEDIA content marketing manager, the panel included Jamie Briesemeister, CEDIA’s integration controls, sales & marketing director; Adam Gibson, CMKBD, Adam Gibson Kitchen & Bath Designs; and Christopher Wright, owner of WrightWorks, a remodeling contractor firm.
The panel covered four learning outcomes during the webinar.
Explore Current and Emerging Tech Trends and Their Application to Current and Future Projects
Briesemeister and her team attended the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and were introduced to a plethora of connected appliances, as well as systems that allow users to access their homes remotely. She said voice control was huge, with many products including Alexa, and water leak detection products help homeowners save on their investment.
“We saw many ‘smart’ products, with smart meaning connected in some way to the internet or a mobile device – there is intelligence built in,” said Briesemeister. “I even saw a mirror with smart glass, which can display weather or a calendar and can also act as a touchscreen to control home devices and even email.”
KOHLER’s Verdera voice-lighted mirror with Amazon Alexa
She also said smart refrigerators add value by letting the homeowner view contents remotely (at a grocery store), and a smart stove can send alerts if it has been on too long. Gibson said the number one connected home need his clients specify is audio visual technology, followed by lighting, which can be controlled with a one-button press or a keypad.
Improve the Experience, Save Production Time, Gain Referrals
“I try to bring up the technology conversation early and ask what existing systems are in place,” said Wright. “I want to deliver options, not upselling or forcing anything on my clients, but rather adding to their quality of life. I find they are willing to pay more for the experience and the peace of mind.”
According to Gibson, every kitchen has some technological integration, but he recommends using an integration specialist to correctly do the install.
“I have learned not to be afraid because I have an integrator involved early,” he explained. “Really good electricians know their limits; they do not try anything they are not trained to do.”
The Bosch Built-in Coffee Machine with Home Connect features voice control through Amazon Alexa.
Establish a Comfort Level with Emerging Technologies
“In the past, integrations were costly, and it was hard to make multiple systems work,” said Wright. “The early step for me was building relationships with tech pros at events and working with them on my projects.”
CEDIA also offers a database of integrators based on zip code. A good integrator is someone who will not slow down a project, who knows exactly what is out there and who does a great job.
“There are different types – those who do faster installations and those who work with a designer,” said Briesemeister. “Find out what kind you are talking to; you may need to know both.”
Tricks of the Trade
There are several advancements that can hide the technology you install in your client’s home, such as faceplates that match the surrounding material. You can also port a subwoofer through a heating and cooling vent to disguise it.
In terms of maintaining the overall project budget, Wright said there is no need to replace all the current technology in a client’s home.
“This alleviates the fear of having to start over from scratch,” he explained. “We want to present options so our clients have the power to decide what they want. Some will want the latest and greatest, and some only need the bare minimum.