The home technology business is tough to shake. Just when you think your time has run out in this industry, an inspiring new opportunity comes along and sucks you right back in. Lately, a growing number of once phased-out high-profile executives have found ways to return with innovative products and concepts for the future.
For example, former Boston Acoustics executive Eli Harary returned a few months ago with AudioXperts and its eye-catching take on speaker design. His start-up eschewed more traditional in-wall and on-wall speakers for creatively designed high-performance tabletop docking audio products, component speakers, and under-TV speakers, some of which were made from eco-friendly materials.
And right before CEDIA EXPO, long-time Lutron director Jeff Zemanek made a move to G2i, a company founded by Reed Stevens, that re-thinks how home integration can be tackled for a broader market. The company will offer exclusive dealer territories, a monthly recurring revenue stream from service contracts, and a turnkey system that offers strong margins, works out of the box without programming, and delivers “high-quality products at a price point not available before.”
Shortly after CEDIA EXPO, former Niles colleagues Frank Stearns and Mike Detmer reunited at NuLEDS, an LED lighting manufacturer with its sights set on the CI channel. I never doubted that both would find ways to reconnect to the CEDIA community in some way, but LED lighting is a refreshing surprise from two men who have spent most of their careers in audio. The move, however, brings instant credibility to the LED lighting category as a potential growth opportunity for integrators.
Then there was former CEDIA CEO Utz Baldwin returning to the home control business with a forward-looking concept called ube. His company’s product, called “myube,” is being designed less for the typical CI-channel “estate home” client and more for homes that cost in the $300,000 price range.
According to Baldwin, myube requires no central controller, no bridge, and no dongle to operate. It simply works with a smart phone and WiFi. The company’s software as a service (SaaS) monitors the status of devices, so a consumer can know what is connected to the network, how it’s configured, and how family members are interacting with devices in the home. The product is still in beta, but it’s notable for its broader market reach and lack of focus on the integration community.
With the rapid pace of technology evolution, there’s no telling where our industry is headed and what role integrators will play, but it’s reassuring to see many of its veteran leaders doubling down on the future of home technology integration in new and innovative ways.