If 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, it’s that the normal we once knew will never be fully realized again. These changes and realizations may have created the biggest boom to the home technology industry we have ever seen. Homeowners now realize that at the drop of a hat their favorite past time may be shut down, their favorite places to go may be closed, and they and their families might have to work and school from home. This has placed a new heartfelt need for quality entertainment, convenience and communications in the home. Fortunately for us manufacturers of residential technology have been working tirelessly to fill these gaps. Here’s just a few of what I consider the most important technology advances and product opportunities for 2022.
The Importance of MATTER
It’s only fitting that I start with Matter. Some of you are aware of Matter because the large tech companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are touting this as the universal method for interoperability between personal and home technologies.
I know you are thinking that this is just another “weave” or “thread,” but I would argue to not dismiss this one so easily. Not only was Matter started by the folks you all know from Zigbee, not only did they make this communication protocol totally open source, but it’s already being backed by some of the biggest names that have real influence in our industry. Brands we know like Assa Abloy, Legrand, Resideo and Somfy are already on board and just recently Samsung has dived in head first adding this technology to not only their entertainment segment but also their appliance side of things. For 2022, with all the big brands and money behind it, Matter WILL MATTER. I would assume it’s only a “matter” of time before our favorite flavor of control systems (Control4, Crestron, Savant, RTI, Elan, etc.) show us full interoperability.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Mass media, science fiction and tinfoil hat people have been shoving the impending doom of AI down our throats for longer than I have walked this earth. And have we really seen a compelling demonstration for use in the home yet? I didn’t think so either until I had recently watched the Amazon/Ring press event. When you looked at all the sensor technology and machine learning opportunities it was obvious 2022 will be the year AI hits you and your clients homes. The reason I am leaning in this direction is the obvious shift in how the manufacturers, programmers and end users perceive AI today. Companies like Amazon, Google and Apple are teaching our audience that the way it worked in “iRobot” is not how it really works at all.
For machine learning AI to work it has to “experience life,” or at least your life. Just like when my dad told me to look both ways before crossing the street (programming), I later learned (machine learning) that he was right by experiencing a squirrel that didn’t look both ways! The hold up all this time with AI for our homes was the lack of multiple input devices to get these “learned experiences” into a database to run its own “conditional outcomes.” This is why I believe 2022 will be the year we really start to see this in action. Amazon all by themselves proved this to me once I added up all the backend technologies they announced in their press event. This coming year your home will know if it’s you in a room, if you’re alone, if you’re with another “saved family member,” what your body temperature is and even if you’re slouching. Put all this together in a learning profile, and a room could be set up to create an environment to change itself, but maybe even to change you.
Lutron Palladiom and Ra3:
Lutron is constantly evolving with the demands of the market and its users. In the last five or so years we have seen Lutron evolve and create even more exciting opportunities for homeowners and dealers and they continue to do so. 2022 will be no different.
While we all get caught up in tech and product announcements I want to bring out the bigger picture for 2022 when it comes to Lutron. I feel like Lutron is stepping up by giving us all a subliminal brand promise, and what they are saying I kinda like. And with Ra3 and Palladium Wireless Shades, I think they are even promising to make it more accessible to homeowners. The increased accessibility is why in 2022 Lutron is going to be an even bigger part of your arsenal.
Alarm Pro with Router/Eero and Web Security:
Being a residential network expert today has its ups and downs. We wish we could put true enterprise network gear in every home we do, even when the client only has an “Office Max” budget for the network. So there’s got to be a safe middle ground product that can cover a ton of bases for us, right? Until recently I would’ve said it was unlikely.
Then along comes a partnership between Ring and eero for the Ring Alarm Pro Base Station. For under $300 you get the best combo device since the TV/VCR — or arguably better than even that. The big deal in this “combo device” is the Advanced Network Security platform that can be user managed through the app. Now I know this isn’t the enterprise level-security I’d like to use on my clients’ homes, but without them having to buy an expensive security appliance, licenses, subscriptions and service plans, it’s honestly the best thing available to us right now.
My reasoning why this product stands out has nothing to do with Enterprise networking — because honestly that’s not what this product is for — but it has a few items that should be built into the typical small business grade-residential network products we are used to and deploy today.
The first reason is an obvious one: it has a built-in battery back up. This is a total no brainer. Why aren’t we already providing network products with this feature? And my second reason is actually the most important. The Ring and eero for the Ring Alarm Pro Base Station has a built-in, optional redundant cellular internet connection. That’s right, your work Zoom call goes down because of your dumb ISP and you don’t miss out on the rest of your meeting. Or anything else for that matter requiring internet, because it has redundant internet and a battery. Seriously, why isn’t everyone doing this? Welcome to 2022.