Every year, more consumers add technology to their homes. They do so because most believe those technologies will add value to their lives and lifestyles–unlocking new experiences, making their homes more efficient, or any number of reasons. While consumers make these decisions with clear goals in mind, we all know how often they fall short of those plans. There are many reasons for this, but one of the most common includes a lack of interoperability. When technologies are limited and each device and system requires constant manual intervention, the expected impacts are drowned out, as occupants are forced to engage in more hands-on management, adding complexities to their homes.
We’ve all been there: some new piece of technology we bought gets used a ton in the first few days or weeks but then we get tired of constantly messing with the app and having to push a lot of buttons to get the benefits we want. A few months later, we hardly use that tech. The device or system might be awesome but because it’s designed to react to the consumer’s use, it may never reach the point of actually doing what we intended.
One of the most important roles a professional installer can play in all of this includes simplifying technologies within the home by providing expertise in systems design and product selection. A professional eye can select technologies that are highly interoperable and deliver on the consumer’s objectives. Among the best ways to do this is by providing consumers with a single app or one interface for controlling all of the devices and systems in their home. Historically, this type of service required professionals to invest significant time into “programming” the systems they install in order to make the experience simple for consumers. But that no longer has to be the case.
If we look at the two issues above together, there’s one common thread between them: Someone has to spend considerable time tinkering with that device or system. Especially as more active sensors become part of our homes, the question is–why isn’t more technology proactively taking care of ‘basic’ tasks for us and without our input? Tasks like turning on and off lights, intelligently adjusting temperatures, locking doors when we leave, and so on. While some brands do many of the basics in these departments, few go far enough in their efforts or spend enough time thinking about the technologies they build through this lens.
Let’s go back to the professional installer.
When considering larger, high-end homes, installers put in home-wide automation systems and one of the most popular devices from these systems you find scattered across homes are “scenes keypads.” These keypads are light-switch-sized boxes you find on a wall that give consumers “magic buttons” to trigger various pieces of technology in unison, in order to do something with one click of a button. For example, a “Welcome Home” button at the front door might turn on some music, raise motorized shades, turn on multiple sets of lights, and more. The experience this creates for the customer is awesome, but, why does an installer need to spend hours programming this type of magic? Why can’t those magic buttons get triggered proactively–and automatically–when someone walks into their home?
You may say to yourself, “Well yeah, that makes sense. But can technology reliably make that happen?” In short, the answer is: Yes. It’s not cut and dry (Is anything with technology?) but with the right context, expectations and execution, it’s already possible and can be fairly easy. It’s all based on “inputs,” such as time of day, knowing when someone is in a room or not, consumer preferences, science and much more. Take the company I work for, Orro. We use a number of sensors built into our light switches, along with time of day, sunlight and consumer preferences, to automatically turn lights on and off as you move around your home, providing the right light level for your body–automatically. What we do isn’t easy, but we and other brands, like Nest with thermostats, are proving that technology is far enough along to where we can start to get the benefits in our homes without having to think about it.
I write this to draw attention to a problem and an even bigger opportunity for brands to evolve the technologies they create. We can do it in ways that truly enhance customers’ lives and simplify the install process for professionals. What other brands out there are ready to start making this shift?
Patrick Gall (pg) is the head of channel development at Orro.