Tech advice from the Builders’ Show

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Tech advice from the Builders’ Show

By Ken Clark - 01/22/2020
LAS VEGAS — Builders can’t control the surge of technology options that stream into existence from Silicon Valley or the Consumer Electronics Show. But they can control how they react to the surge.

That’s one of the takeaways from a panel presentation here during the International Builders’ Show. The panel, called “Best in Show, the latest trends for housing from the Consumer Electronics Show,” pointed to a number of gadgets and gizmos that should be on the radar of the homebuilding industry.

A panel of experts encouraged the industry to be focused on solutions, as opposed to technology for technology’s sake.

“Technology is inescapable, but you should stay away from it if there’s no purpose behind it,” said Jason Mathew, general manager of Global IoT for Whirlpool. “If it’s not consumer-driven, if it’s just tech for the sake of tech, then just stay away.”

Jacob Atalla, VP of sustainability for KB Home agreed with that idea, and pointed to an example in the kitchen. Technology that allows a home owner to turn on the faucet with his or her voice is nice, but it doesn’t really solve a problem. A more thoughtful use of technology, he said, is a faucet that gives the home owner the ability to dispense precise amounts of water at a touch. (He pointed to Kohler as an example of a company that provides that solution.)

Suppliers are providing more thoughtful solutions than in years past, Atalla added.

The session Smart tech trends from the Consumer Electronics Show, as discovered by the panel’s moderator Melissa Morman, chief experience officer of BDX (Builders Digital Experience). The findings include everything from practical fingerprint-activated door locks to Eksoskeleton suits that could conceivably be used on the job site to reduce fatigue of workers.

CES also showcased solutions for garages of the future. Instead of cumbersome docking stations for cars, wireless charging solutions could change the shape of garage design.

“I think we’re at a moment where there are more options, where the tech actually works, and things actually have purpose,” said Mathew. “And it’s not just about getting lights turned on in the home, it’s about service. It’s about making sure the consumer actually has a solution on day one.”

Atalla’s advice: Start small and act fast, and retool every year as you see more [innovations].”

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