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Archive for Technology

Feb 22 2018

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Kitchen & Bath Tech Trends You Can’t Afford to Miss

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.

Sep 11 2017

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Journeying into the Future

This past weekend I went down to San Diego to check out our newest sister show: CEDIA 2017. This show focused on smart tech and in particular, the smart home. Having just bought my first home recently, I was excited to see what the market had to offer now and what is coming next. There will be much more in products and trends in a news feature next week, but meanwhile here were some highlights I picked up on.

Multi-Tasking Decor. We are all about multi-tasking at home today, so it shouldn’t have surprised me to see a TV that turns into an art piece or a mirror, like this one from Electric Mirror. According to the exhibitor, no one wants just an ugly black box anymore when you can have a piece of art.

                                        Electric Mirror TV

Bigger, Better Entertainment. If the plethora of extremely high-definition, well-made speakers at the show is any indicator, consumers are all for an in-house entertainment experience. On top of that, not seeing the elements that create that experience makes it all the more luxurious to the homeowner. I saw this at Stealth Acoustics, which can simply hide the speaker behind a specially constructed ceiling panel.
                            Invisible Speakers from Stealth Acoustics

Virtual Reality. In a session I attended on misconceptions about the smart home, I learned that virtual reality (VR) might be going in a different direction than into the home. While it might work well for video games, it is unlikely to make much of an impact on daily life in the home. However, it will continue to evolve into a very efficient tool for designers and sales teams, as I saw myself at Modus VR. The demo showed how easy it would be to create a design inside VR itself, instead of having to set up the design separately and then create the VR scene in a different program. This would save designers a lot of time, and it would allow clients to have a bigger part in the design process.

                              Virtual Reality glasses (on me)


If you attended CEDIA as well, let us know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter @KBBconnect.

Jul 31 2017

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Cracking the Technology Myth


One of the most difficult tasks a designer faces is convincing their client to invest in something with which they may not be familiar. Often that challenge comes when it comes to technology, and unless the client is a tech-savvy millennial, they are often skeptical of why a smart home would be worthwhile.

This past week the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) presented a webinar entitled, “Smart Technology in the Kitchen and Bath,” which was moderated by John Morgan, a past president for the NKBA. The webinar focused on developing comfort in discussing smart technology, understanding the smart-home concept and identifying ways to incorporate smart-tech solutions.

One of the key points the panel discussed were the beliefs clients tend to have when it comes to smart home technology. These “myths” include:

•    It is not necessary.
•    It will break the budget.
•    Current technology will become obsolete as new technology evolves.
•    Technology breaks easily and requires more maintenance.
•    Technology is only a luxury.

The panel also agreed that many designers shy away from offering technology because it sounds complicated. However, bringing that discussion to the table early with a client can truly pay out. Before the walls are put up, find out how your client might save time and energy with smart-home solutions.

Today’s solutions are often linked to apps, which all ages can easily use and relate to, without a user manual or learning curve. These apps and other communicative technology can control everything from lighting to heating and cooling and security systems in a home. A client can have a more secure peace of mind knowing who has entered and left their house remotely and whether any appliances were accidentally left on. They can more easily focus on entertaining their guests by checking on meals from their phone. It is more than convenience; it is also ideal for today’s multitasking society.

Resale value is another selling point. While consumers will probably always consider the way a house looks first, the advantage of smart technology can make the difference in how fast a home sells. In addition, new home builds often are being specced with the wiring for smart technology, so it makes sense to be ahead of the curve and include it in a redesign.

Despite the fears both designers and clients might have about smart-home technology, it is coming into our homes no matter what. During this tech boom, however, designers can get ahead by educating themselves. Be sure to attend CEDIA, the smart home industry show, which is taking place September 5-9 in San Diego. We will continue to cover CEDIA and the connected home, so stay tuned – our homes are about to be a part of the future.

Apr 21 2017

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Delta Faucet Event Unveils New Products

KBB was recently invited to attend a press event at Delta Faucet Co.’s new Manoogian Center, a $15,000-million addition to the company’s headquarters in Indianapolis that celebrates its founder, Alex Manoogian.

We were given a look behind the scenes to see where the inspiration for the company’s designs originates, how they test packaging to ensure the products are getting to their customers safe and sound, how they incorporate new technology into their collections and how they test products for various certifications.

“We think faucets are of the utmost importance,” said Brian Noble, senior director, Brizo and marketing services. “After all, people interact with them multiple times a day.”

The Model Shop in the Innovation/Research Lab on the lower level

In terms of inspiration, Judd Lord, senior director of industrial design, and his team do a lot of traveling to national and international events to study various trends, including furniture and even automotive.

“We want to get out there and activate our senses,” he explained, adding that the creation of entire collections from start to finish takes anywhere from 18 months to two years.

My personal favorite was the RSVP Collection – a very literal, elegant take on the female figure.

Regarding new technology, it is helpful to keep looking forward to determine future needs.

“I started working on our H2O Kinetic technology in 2001 because I knew water regulations and the green movement were coming,” said Paul Patton, senior R&D/regulatory manager. “It’s important to pay attention to regulations coming down the road.”

What’s New for Delta and Brizo

Whereas research points to aesthetics being first on consumers’ lists of requirements, function/performance is following along closely. Brizo takes both seriously with its fashion-forward approach, as well as tech elements that include an electronic proportioning valve offered in some of its collections.

The Litze Bathroom Collection was introduced at KBIS 2016, and now the brand offers the Litze Kitchen Collection (above), which will be available later this year. It is available with three different spout options, two choices of handles and five finishes. When asked during KBIS 2017, attendees were most enamored with the black and gold split-finish option.

Brizo is also introducing the Vettis Bath Collection (above), which was inspired by the Vettisfossen waterfall in Norway, and both brands have created new display systems to elevate their products in the showroom setting (Delta below left, Brizo below right).