Friday, 15 January 2021

The Next Growth Opportunity For Home Technology? The Kitchen

For much of its existence, home technology association CEDIA members focused on big screens and booming speakers. Those still abound, as was evident at the annual expo’s show floor last week, but the realms of technology are expanding far beyond home theater into the home’s true hub: “Most consumers use technology in their kitchens (reading/sending emails, surfing the web, looking up recipes, online grocery shopping, etc.),” shares a just-released Kitchen Technology Awareness & Usage Report.

In an expanding partnership, the report’s National Kitchen & Bath Association creator had a presence at the 2018 CEDIA Expo, and CEDIA has had a presence at recent NKBA’s flagship Kitchen + Bath Industry Show expos, continuing into 2019 with a pavilion and expert speakers.

With the kitchen and bath slice of the construction industry expected to grow to $178 billion in 2018, according to NKBA, this is a true growth opportunity for the technology industry. (And with Millennials increasing their presence in the home buying and remodeling markets, technology is a knowledge area kitchen and bath pros need to be growing.) Designers are getting more questions on these topics from clients, and home technology specialists (often called integrators) are proving to be helpful in providing answers and guidance.

The report revealed, “Only one third of designers are always or frequently recommending technology in their kitchen designs because they are not knowledgeable about the wide array of tech solutions available.” They are also not always aware of all the planning considerations required by the components that can impact the success of a project. Those considerations need to be factored into the earliest planning stages, tech pros say.

With home automation extending throughout the residence, phones and tablets needing power and storage, and faucets and appliances gaining connectivity and voice control, technologists are now being added to the list of designers and trades involved in kitchen projects. These are the three most recommended features they’re specifying, according to the report:

  • Mobile device charging/storage (66%)
  • Centralized lighting controls (45%)
  • Automated faucets (43%)

Consumers are saying they want technology that makes their lives easier (57%), but don’t want their kitchens to have a “techy appearance.” That’s probably why automated faucets look like their non-wired contemporary cousins and why in-drawer chargers are becoming widespread.

Kohler showed off its connected collection tthis year at CEDIA ‘s 2018 Expo.Photo courtesy of Kohler Co.

Consumers also want their home automation technology products to be able to work together (54%), regardless of brand or platform, and are really embracing voice control (46%). There are definite advantages to telling your faucet to turn on and off when your hands are holding a hot roasting pan, for example.

Some features both designers and consumers are interested in include appliances and faucets that send failure and leak notices, cooking appliances that sense overcooking or being left on unintentionally, sensors that can track your food inventory, plus climate, security and children’s computer usage monitoring.

While not all of those features are available yet, consumers are saying they see added market value for their homes in kitchen technology (72%), time-saving (70%), safety (58%) and comfort (61%) improvements and even improvements to their cooking skills (52%). The drawbacks they’re experiencing include difficulty in discovering and comparing what’s available (38%), compatibility with other home technology (37%), expense (36%), reliability (32%) and difficulty in using it (28%).

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