JoAnn Arcenal, Business Development Manager
With the increased amount of time spent at home over the past year, our clients have become hyperaware of what they like (or want) in their personal space. The home has become a sanctuary, so more and more people are investing in improving the experience.
It’s little wonder that the most in-demand new features address wellness and the work/life balance:
1. Touchless technology
Voice and touchless technologies were already poised to thrive in the residential technology market prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they’re now on the fast track for adoption, as consumers spend more time in the safety of their homes.
While voice control has long been considered a convenience feature, there’s an increased demand for touchless control as a safety feature of the home. A recent Fortune Business Insights report reveals that the global speech and voice recognition market size stood at USD 6.9 Billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 28.3 Billion by 2026.
Contact-cautious homeowners are also looking for completely automated experiences in their homes. The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) most recent home design trends study found an increased interest in mudrooms or entryway “drop zones”– spaces to leave shoes, purses, backpacks, etc. These entry points can be outfitted with occupancy sensors to illuminate the space and nearest washroom, to encourage immediate hand washing with zero contact.
2. Adapted work-from-home spaces
Some of the work-from-home setups driven by the pandemic were makeshift at first, but now that they’re part of everyday life, there’s a need for a more elegant and permanent solution. In the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) 2020 Interior Design Resiliency Report, the top-ranked home feature was more defined workspaces, chosen by 75% of respondents.
The ideal home-office/classroom design also calls for technological enhancements, specifically infrastructure. There’s no question that most standard home networks were stretched to the limit during the pandemic with concurrent Zoom Rooms™ calls, demanding a more robust network.
Consumers have also called out the smaller infrastructure annoyances that became more apparent during the pandemic, such as the placement of power and data outlets. For example, in a recent Wall Street Journal article, one person quickly became irritated by the placement of electrical outlets in their apartment. “When I’d try to work from the dining room table, I’d find that I had to plug my laptop into the nearest safe socket: almost behind the refrigerator, at chest level,” creating a horizontal obstacle to constantly limbo underneath.
Homeowners are opting to embrace the new work environment and coordinating additional power and data receptacles with decorative keypads. The cohesive aesthetic accentuates the adapted space rather than suggest an “afterthought” addition.
3. Distributed audio and video
Audio and video content consumption soared in 2020, from an average of about 3 hours per day in 2019 to just under 7 hours per day in 2020, according to a report by Double Verify. With most of the globe under stay-at-home orders for much of the year, people working-from-home repurposed commuting hours by staying up later at night and waking up later in the morning to consume more entertainment.
According to Nielsen, streaming video accounted for 25% of total television viewing minutes, up from 19% in fourth quarter 2019. The cumulative weekly time spent with streaming video in second quarter 2019 was 142.5 billion minutes, an increase of nearly 75% from the 81.7 billion minutes during second quarter 2019.
Audio streaming has also been on the rise. Recent data from Comscore finds that U.S. households have increased their average daily audio streaming by almost one hour over the past 6 months.
These new behaviors, coupled with modular and adaptive homes, have created increased demand for higher quality distributed audio and video. Residents can move from one room to the next and bring their content with them without disruption.
Technology trends are ever-changing, so it’s more important than ever to prepare for what your clients’ need now and what they may want tomorrow. These are only a few of the features that have increased in popularity and should be considered a jumping off point towards the simplicity and convenience of true whole home integration.