Innovation in the Arena of Smart Homes

Voice command capabilities are leading the way for innovation in the home

by Anza Akram

Will technology become a major driver behind how builders and developers market their homes?

Yes. Today’s buyers expect to have state-of-the-art technology incorporated into nearly every product they buy, and the home is certainly no exception. Builders and developers that fail to offer compelling technology in their homes are certainly at a disadvantage compared to those who do. The technology that is expected in a home, and the features and experiences it provides, vary widely at the moment, but are slowly standardizing, providing builders with a chance to get in on the ground floor.

How innovative are Smart Homes?

The real innovations occurring right now are not in the technology and devices within the homes, but in interfacing. According to surveys, voice command capabilities, such as those offered by Amazon and Google, are the most rapidly adopted technologies seen in recent decades. The basic technology behind voice control has existed for many years, having long been used to automate lighting, security, video, and audio. The big change is how we interact with it now. What voice command offers is simply a better way for homeowners to interface with their technology. Additionally, the appeal of its simplicity — talking to a device instead of typing or pushing buttons — is another the reason for its rapid acceptance.

Voice has finally given home technology the “wow” factor that was missing from pushing buttons on wall panels, remotes and phone apps. Its rapid consumer acceptance has been met by a rapid introduction of even newer devices and new abilities within existing devices. Successful devices can be accessed by voice commands but still offer legacy methods to control. For example, a light switch that can be controlled via voice, but also be simply switched on or off by hand.

How are product manufacturers adapting to Smart Home challenges?

Successful manufacturers are developing products that deliver lasting benefits to the homeowner in an ongoing and consistent manner. Good products are those that go beyond the trends and will stand the test of time as a permanent part of the home. The latest IoT gadget may do some cool things, but, if it is not reliable or it needs frequent firmware updates, it can quickly become a problem. Builders and developers should look towards products and services provided by manufactures and integrators that have decades of experience in providing reliable solutions. One such industry is the Custom Design and Installation Association (CEDIA). CEDIA manufacturers and integrators are not new to the challenges of creating beneficial products and services without the pitfalls of bleeding-edge technology.

Many manufacturers, such as The DaVinci Group, are taking their decades of experience in providing reliable products and combining it with the benefits of newer technology. For example, as explained earlier, the integration of voice command capability has become an important part of product development. Technology providers such as Amazon are rapidly licensing these abilities, and good manufactures are coupling these interfaces with real benefits. At The DaVinci Group, we have always been focused on providing the joy of music and audio in the home. We focus not on the technology itself, but on how it better helps us to provide that joy to the homeowner.

What is there to be afraid of?

Builders, developers, and homeowners are all justifiably right to be concerned about problems with technology in the home. Most of us have come to be familiar with technology giving us nearly as many problems as benefits. Of course, not many of us could make it through the day without it. The real concern within the home often focuses on a solution becoming its own problem. When this happens, solving it isn’t always as easy as walking to the return counter at Best Buy.

The best approach for builders is to work on relationships centered on technology providers and servicers, not the products. This approach leads to lasting business relationships that are capable of providing the best solutions while avoiding pitfalls. Relationships built around ideas can create unique and synergistic experiences which can go a very long way in the home.

Anza Akram is an Executive Vice President with The DaVinci Group Inc., manufacturer of architectural loudspeakers and electronics. She may be reached at

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