44 ELECTRICALCONTRACTOR | MAR. 17 | WWW.ECMAG.COM
TECHNOLOGY BY JIM ROMEO
The investigation continues, but this
event may foreshadow the role that smart
home devices play as they continue to
change lifestyles as well the technology
frontier for today’s contractors.
Home devices are becoming an asset in
“We are already there,” said Rob
Martens, vice president of strategy and
partnerships for Allegion, parent com-
pany of lockmaker Schlage, Carmel, Ind.
“That is why how you implement the
technology is just as important as what
Smart home elements can have
multiple functions. For interconnected
devices, there is debate as to how much
control is needed to capture its benefits
and meet any challenges they pose.
“We are seeing multiple sensors,
microphones, speakers all being incorporated into single product solutions
in hopes of delivering greater bundled
value such as a home security device
that provides remote viewing, notifications on air quality and energy savings,
audio entertainment and even shopping
list creation,” said Fritz Werder, vice
president and general manager, Nuvo
and On-Q product lines, Legrand, Hartford, Conn.
Martens said contractors are going to
begin to see Wi-Fi-certified homes.
“This demand will extend to existing homes, as more and more connected
devices become common, so electrical
contractors could benefit by understanding and potentially providing some
services around it,” he said.
Better technology, better value
Within smart home technology, many
see an emergence of voice technology
and voice control.
“The hottest new technology in the
smart home is undoubtedly voice control,” said Mitchell Klein, executive
director, Z-Wave Alliance, Fremont, Calif.
“Voice-control products such as Amazon
Alexa and Google Home are dominating
the market right now, and there is a lot of
consumer interest in using voice to control their homes. Beyond voice control,
AI [artificial or augmented intelligence]
is emerging as a trend in home control.”
Capability is not without cost, but
higher cost may be palatable to many if
it clearly translates to value.
“While smart home technology developments are continuing to improve the
quality of life for homeowners, they are
also continuing to improve in cost,” said
Greg Rhoades, director of marketing for
Leviton’s energy management, controls
and automation business division.
“With newer technologies having
cameras, thermostat, etc.—electrical
contractors can offer more affordable
and high-quality options together to
customers who want to make their
homes smarter in more ways than one,”
Rhoades said that, in addition to cost
for smart home solutions, ECs can provide even more value to homeowners by
teaching them how to customize their
smart home products upon initial install
and setup. Knowing which options are
on the market to expand a homeowner’s
control and ease of use over his or her
products enables contractors to improve
their own service value as well.
This year, electricians can create a
smart home without having to be an
integration or software expert. It’s getting easier for smart homes to become
the futuristic showcase of convenient
technology for living that has been in the
works for decades.
Smart home devices aren’t new.
The 1964 New York World’s Fair featured “picture phones,” underground
homes and a host of gadgets. However,
the utility of home devices in the age of
the Internet of Things has given way to
unforeseen capabilities and value, such
as unlocking our door, remotely monitoring our water usage, and possibly
solving murder mysteries.
For the EC with foresight, fertile
ground awaits in smart home technology,
with dividends to be reaped by those who
understand and embrace its potential.
A More Connected Tomorrow
Home devices and what they mean
WHEN A DEAD BODY WAS DISCOVERED in a hot tub in Bentonville, Ark., in
late 2015, detectives looked for forensic evidence in uncommon places. The home
was outfitted with smart devices, such as Apple’s Nest thermostat, an Amazon Echo
that responds to voice commands and a digital water metering system that could
be read remotely. The investigators thought the Echo might provide clues if they
could analyze a log of any commands it received. Detectives reached out to some
smart-device providers to gather forensics that could help solve the crime in a
ROMEO is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, Va. He focuses on business and
technology topics. Find him at www. JimRomeo.net. I S T