This past Friday, March 18th, Principal Wayne Turett had the opportunity to speak on a New York Times Design-sponsored panel at the 2016 Architectural Digest Design Show. Wayne, alongside other leading industry professionals from Jenn-Air, Nest, Sony and Gilmore Sound, discussed the integration of technology into residential design, and weighed in on the newest products and trends. The panel addressed many questions throughout, sharing their varying perspectives on issues such as product integration, user interfaces and security. Questions posed included: how many devices are too many? Are these apps and devices really making our lives easier? Are we becoming slaves to technology?
It seems that almost everything these days can be controlled at the click of a button, from our lights to window treatments to our appliances, and of course our entertainment systems. As consumers, we are bombarded with new products, and it can be overwhelming. The consensus amongst the panelist was that the biggest challenge facing the home technology industry is how to integrate all of this new technology and make it work together. As one panelist put it, the objective is for architects, designers and consultants integrate technology seamlessly into our homes, so that they operate in the background and are heard but not seen, and vice versa. One major obstacle is that companies use different software. The industry needs to find ways to streamline all of the apps and products that are being created to make our lives easier. Companies need to figure out how to work together. Product collaborations, such as between Nest and Jenn-Air, aim to do just that. Soon, the user will be able to control their respective Nest and Jenn-Air products from one app.
Consumers Driving Trends
Consumers are becoming more educated and expecting a certain degree of connectivity. In this regard, they are driving the home technology market to keep constantly innovating. But there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to integrate technology, which makes the industry confusing to navigate, and why it helps to have a professional on board to give advice when you are designing your home. The panelists agreed that flexibility is important, as users have different preferences. For example, some people prefer voice activation as opposed to typing on their screen. On the other side, perhaps voice activation is not practical for families who want to keep noise levels down after bedtime.
There is much more to integrating technology into home then what meets the eye. A plan needs to be made so that the electrical includes proper wiring and space for outlets, amongst other considerations. Additionally, there needs to coordination with other elements of residential design – from mechanical to HVAC, all the way down to the furniture placement.
From a product and app design standpoint, a high priority concern for many users in his digital age is privacy and security. As one audience member said, how do I know that Jenn-Air isn’t reporting the type of foods I am eating to my insurance provider? For the average homeowner, the panel felt that this should not be a concern, and stressed that the consumer can control how much information they choose to share. For those who are concerned, extra layers of security can be put into place, and for these scenarios it is better to hire an expert to advise. But, rest assured, improvements to security are on the forefront of these companies agendas as they develop new products.
The panel concluded with the question on everyone’s mind – what is next? Will life be like ‘The Jetsons’ where our food seemingly magically appears? Possibly delivered by drone? The panelists agreed it is hard to know, but Wayne raised an interesting point- is it possible these new products will cause us to rethink the way our homes are designed? Perhaps, these product advancements will change the way we design, and negate the need for defined living, dining or kitchen spaces as we know them.
As for everyones favorite new product? The panel almost unanimously agreed that it is their Amazon Echo Robot. It seems as though the Jetsons lifestyle may be closer than we think.