The challenges and opportunities of bringing awareness of health and wellness, security and safety technologies to homeowners was the springboard topic for a discussion panel brought to CEDIA Expo’s “Smart Stage” Sept. 14, and organized by Connected Design and Dealerscope parent CT Lab Global Media.
On the panel, emceed by Erik Listou (standing at right), co-founder of the Living in Place Institute (LIPI), were, left to right: Alex Capecelatro, CEO and co-founder of home control system company Josh.ai; Toni Sabatino, owner of the design firm Toni Sabatino Style and president of the Manhattan (NYC) chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA); and Mike Restrepo, owner of New Jersey-based connected-home integration firm Restrepo Innovations.
Capecelatro noted that the market growth simple voice control devices has become one path to awareness among buyers of what is possible – particularly, among older, tech-averse consumers who “want it easy and have a hard time with smaller screens.” Sabatino said that from her perspective as a designer, it’s a matter of learning first to understand her clients, and then partner them with the right tech specialist: “The conversation with the client starts with, ‘How do you use technology?’”
Restrepo is a proponent of what he called the “military philosophy of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple),” regardless of the client’s age or how tech-savvy that client is.
Moderator Listou offered that one of the greatest benefits of voice control could be realized among the over-60 age demographic, which, he noted, “needs three times the amount of light than when they were 20 years old.” That need, suggested Capecelatro, can be met expertly through the nuances the tech integration industry is capable of engineering in lighting’s color temperatures and vibrancy – elements of lighting that his company, through its product line, has made adjustable by voice.
Progression in the area of control in the service of wellness and safety, Capecelatro noted, is about eventually tweaking technology the point where “we move from digital interfaces, to voice interfaces, to no interface… how do we remove the interface, the barriers?”
“As designers,” Sabatino said, “where we’re going is where LIPI is going. The sociology of interior design is about creating spaces where people live well – living in a state of beauty versus living in a state of stress.” Conversations about design, she added, need to gravitate to both the longevity of the space being designed, and to the occupant’s long-term needs in that space. Also, she said, “people tend to fear obsolescence” when it comes to signing on with technology in the home, so it’s important to emphasize that technology can be upgraded seamlessly, behind the scenes.
“Technology is a living, breathing organism,” added Capecelatro, “and the average client isn’t aware of that. Making that clear helps.”
Restrepo suggested that conversations with clients needed to include tasking them to “review their day and tell me where I can take a button away – taking buttons away rather than adding them is what real control is.”
“Find out what your clients’ pain points and what their goals are,” added Capecelatro. “It isn’t about pushing technologies – it’s about figuring out the right [technology] solution for them.”
Wellness-promoting technologies that embellish clients’ quality of life – such as lighting that adjusts to the body’s daily circadian rhythms, must be logically presented, he suggested. He noted that even smartphones now have features that dim down and change their screen lighting’s color and intensity at night. “What’s the cost of such technologies [in the home]? Well, what is your sleep worth?” Paying attention to these aspects of home technology means “changing the way we sell to our clients. The future of where we are going isn’t just entertainment.”