What is a Smart Home? By definition it is a home equipped with lighting, heating, and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by phone or computer. At the recent Kitchen and Bath Industry show (KBIS), Kitchen and bath appliances for the home were featured showing connectivity to communication centers like Home Connect and Alexa. Designers like myself were very excited about these new steps in technology for the home and see the potential of not only making our clients lives easier but also saving time so family and friends can be the priority.

For example, Thermador’s Connected Experience is your gateway to “exceptional culinary experiences.” With the Home Connect app you can control your dishwasher, refrigerator, wine refrigerator or coffee machine, and access a world of culinary inspiration with recipes and product tutorials.  At the show, I asked Alexa to make me a cappuccino. Can you imagine doing that at home? This also would be great for aging hands. Samsung’s family hub incorporates cameras inside your refrigerator to capture images and transmit the images to your smartphone. You then know what to order if you are at the store. Or order directly from your refrigerator panel.  This saves you a trip to the market since your food will be shipped right to your home….Talk about saving time and helping people who are not feeling well. Signature Kitchen Suites True Sommelier App makes wine recommendations, including food and wine pairings based on the wines stored in your collections. Become a real wine expert!

Unlimited personalization possibilities heighten entertaining and cooking at home. But will our clients embrace this technology? There are always budget concerns since these appliances are more expensive than your typical appliances. However, I think budget concerns may be a cloaking devise for a true technology fear.  These systems rely on the Internet connection, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Questions have come up like, “what if something will happen with the Internet or if your Bluetooth isn’t working?  What if the system fails in the middle of a dishwashing cycle? What if my grocery information gets lost in the hub? These are true fears that our clients, especially the baby boomers are thinking about and maybe they may feel more secure with the typical home versus the smart home.  

Unless there are clear answers to these fears, what is supposed to amplify our lives for the better may turn into a headache that needs constant user attention. We live in a connected world and I think each company should calm the nerves of homeowners with product assistance. I know Thermador offers remote diagnostics within their app when product assistance is needed. However, knowing that there will be a human being on the other end to help may calm the nerves of folks who are on the fence about buying smart home technology. As a designer who believes in innovation, I will not only be speaking to the kitchen and bath brands about human assistance but also educating my clients the benefits of technology in the home outweigh the fears.