The smart home has come a long way over the last few years and the recent Covid pandemic has served to accelerate the innovation and adoption of smart home technologies. When we started cyberManor a little over 20 years ago, a smart home consisted of a router, a couple of microcomputers, a printer, and maybe a storage drive. It was really just a smart office inside of a “dumb” home. Fast forward two decades later and the trickle of intelligent products into the home in the early 2000s has turned into a tsunami of smart home innovation and products. Every room inside and outside the home has been affected by technology’s influence.
The breadth of solutions today is staggering, and every major consumer electronic manufacturer has a network-connected solution in its product lineup.
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The opportunity to customize and personalize a smart home experience has never been greater — or more daunting. In almost every intelligent product category there are dozens of solutions, and they almost all can be controlled by a remote, keypad, touchscreen, gesture, and voice. The greatest challenge for the homeowner is navigating through all of these options and selecting and integrating these products in their home to achieve a reliable, high-quality, and easy-to-use experience over the long term.
In this complex and changing environment there is really only one way to deliver a long-term exceptional smart home experience — someone or some company has to take charge, or ownership, over the homeowner’s integrated technology experience. In the automotive world, a great smart car experience is relatively easy to obtain compared to the home. Tesla, for example, is a car that really is a smart home on wheels. Its cars have intelligent door locking, heating controls, entertainment, gaming and music, motorized windows, security cameras, and communications — almost all controlled by app, voice, or touchscreen.
Sounds very similar to the smart home installations we perform for our clients, with one very big difference. Tesla manufactures, purchases, and integrates every item that goes into building its cars. Every intelligent product has been vetted and extensively tested to ensure that the car owner will have a reliable and long-term repeatable smart car experience. Additionally, with its frequent software updates, Tesla continues to add wonderful new features to its cars at no charge — to the delight of customers.
The smart home needs a “Tesla-like” manufacturer or custom integrator brand to guarantee the long-term satisfaction of smart home technologies to the homeowner. We are close to having that kind of manufacturer/brand in the production build and/or prefab home construction market — whereby a Lennar or a Plant PreFab can handpick their preferred best-of-breed technology products and add the same product suite and control interface to all the makes and models of their home. It’s sort of a “walled garden” of selected, generally affordable products that make up their smart home solutions. These packaged solutions work well until the homeowner who doesn’t have technology expertise tries to add new products to their smart home framework — then the integrated smart home solution can easily be compromised and the customer’s control experience degrades.
Enter the custom home electronics integrator — truly the only professional channel on the planet that can ensure the long-term, reliable success of the smart home experience. Only the professional channel can vet, integrate, and support best-of-breed smart home products over the many years that homeowners live in their homes. The smart home brand to the homeowner becomes the name of their custom integrator company — and the integrator’s brand reputation is directly tied to their long-term expertise and support of the homeowner.
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For our clients we create a cyberManor Smart Home, which happens to have Control4, Lutron, Sonos, and Sony products inside, to name just a few. But to enjoy the “Tesla-like” brand experience for their home, they count on us to be their total home technology experts.
Today, total home technology support means that our clients turn to us for general expertise on all of the home’s smart home solutions (which is one of the main reasons that we built our New Home Technology showroom home behind our office). Clearly our clients need us for audio/video expertise, lighting, comfort, communications, and security expertise — but now irrigation, skylights, appliances, water fixtures, picture frames, door locks, floor heaters, pianos, are all smart! Our residential clients will expect all of these networked, intelligent systems to be seamlessly connected to the home’s control system — one that that is easy and reliable to use (see the Connected Home Ecosystem graphic in figure 1).
Just as the custom integrator was able to make complex AV solutions easier to use with universal remotes, we are now in the same position to make the whole home easier to use with universal home control systems, touch screens, and voice controls. And only the custom electronics integrator, in partnership with the builder and other trades in the home, can perform this leadership role. When we assume this holistic approach toward understanding and supporting all of the smart technologies in the home, we will be in the best position to serve our client’s needs for today and tomorrow.
At the end of the day, isn’t that what makes our jobs fun?