Smart Home Technology Trends in 2017

“The future of housewares and appliances is quickly moving toward the smart home,” said Doreen Schofield, CR, CKBR, designer with Callen Construction. “Connectivity is being incorporated into products all around the home – from light bulbs to coffee brewers, from thermostats to ovens – connected products, once only a dream, are quickly becoming reality.”

Smart Home Technology Trends in 2017This year, the smart home movement includes the emergence of five key trends. Leak detection sensors, including fire alarms, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, radon detectors, and moisture detectors are devices that help keep a home’s environment safe. “There are even air quality devices that measure the air inside a home and detect dangerous toxins,” Doreen said. Perhaps the most useful of these devices is the smart leak detection sensor, which monitor plumbing in a home’s walls to ensure there are no major leaks or malfunctions. “Leak detections sensors also help prevent serious water damage or the buildup of mold and mildew inside walls caused by a slow leak,” she said. “They are a game-changer, especially for older homes.”

For homeowners, energy consumption is a primary concern because it is necessary to manage how much energy you’re using. This involves monitoring many different facets of your home, including lighting usage and air conditioning dependence. “Connected or smart thermostats can help alleviate this problem by conserving energy over time,” said Doreen. They are far more advanced than programmable thermostats, as they are capable of learning habits and preferences and they can even detect your presence. “This allows for scenarios such as leaving the air off while you’re away from home and letting it auto-adjust to a comfortable setting when you’re on your way back,” she said.

How many times have you left home and realized you left your garage door wide open? A traditional door requires you to return home to close it. Conversely, a smart garage door enables you to monitor your garage door from anywhere. You simply have to check the open or closed status from an app on your smartphone and, if it’s open, you can close it remotely. “This feature offers a world of possibilities,” Doreen said. “For instance, you could let the dog or house sitters in through your garage or open your home to emergency services or neighbors when you’re gone. Smart garage doors offer homeowners both convenience and increased security.”

Homeowners also need to be concerned about water usage, as it is another form of consumption. Clean water for drinking, cleaning, or bathing are important, but so too is the water used to irrigate your land. This is where smart watering systems come into play. “On one hand, if you live in a deed-restricted community, you are required to maintain a healthy lawn; otherwise you risk fines and other penalties,” said Doreen. “On the other hand, shortages and droughts can restrict the amount of water you can use.” Smart watering systems make this process simple and efficient, allowing you to schedule watering sessions and also keep track of how much water you’re using, which will likely save you money over time.

According to Safewise, a burglary occurs every 18 seconds in the United States and a report by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology shows that about 60 percent of convicted burglars were deterred by the presence of a home security system. By installing a smart home security camera, you pay for the equipment once, with service fees typically lower than conventional security plans.

“As the demand for smart home technology continues to rise, it’s important for homeowners to stay up to date on the latest trends not only for added savings and convenience, but also for peace of mind,” said Doreen.

For more information or to arrange an initial showroom consultation, call Callen at 414-529-5509.



How Technology Is Changing Home Design

The increased availability of and access to technology has changed the way that homeowners work with remodeling contractors, as well as changed the types of amenities that are included in remodeling projects. Designers with Callen explain how increased technology has impacted home remodeling.

Marie Owens, a Callen designer, said the biggest change for her is in how she physically designs projects. “I have been in the industry long enough to have been doing hand drawings to show and illustrate my designs,” Marie said. “Now with computer design software, I can help the client feel like they are almost in their new space before we construct it. This is not only helpful when I am designing, but particularly when I am explaining the design to the client. It also becomes easy to explore and show alternative design options. All of this really helps to eliminate surprises throughout the process.”

According to Paulette Sodemann, Senior Designer for Callen, the ease of communicating with clients has been enhanced through technology. “Drawing designs on the computer and showing a visual of the client’s space is huge,” Paulette said. “It really makes it easier as a designer to show your vision. It is amazing how the computer generated programs look so much like the final result.”

Paulette also said it is much easier to communicate with clients before, during, and after the project. “Most people have very hectic schedules and they are not always able to return a phone call during normal business hours,” she said. “E-mail is a nice form of connecting with a client, as it allows them to get back to me at a time when it is convenient for them to respond. For example, you can send change orders via e-mail to keep the job moving forward if something is modified during the project. The ability to text or e-mail the client at the home to get a quicker response is beneficial to all involved.”

In addition to making it easier to communicate with homeowners, working with suppliers, vendors, and installers has also been improved. Said Marie, “Communication with the tradespeople, supplier vendors, and installers is fast and immediate. Technology has sped up the process of finding products and specifying the details of products. It is so easy to search for products and instantly have the necessary specifications.”

“Most tradespeople are in the field during the day, so sending an e-mail or text gives them a chance to get to it when they can without playing ‘phone tag,’” Paulette said. “Being able to look up specs and products online also reduces time trying to find answers, allowing me to get back to the vendor or client faster.”

The advent of social media technology and more detailed websites has also influenced the design process, as it gives both clients and designers inspiration. “Social media outlets such as Houzz and Pinterest, as well as manufacturer websites, helps homeowners see styles to which they are attracted, which helps narrow down a desired look,” Paulette said. “Being able to visualize something is huge for people, so having those types of websites can also help to explain the vision of the designer. Social media and websites also give us an outlet to show our work to people regardless of where they reside. You are no longer limited to magazines to garner inspiration.”

“Houzz and Pinterest make the search for ideas easier with more results, plus these sites make it easier to exchange ideas,” Marie said. “Folders can be created to show ideas, once again making the ‘imagine this’ process much easier.  I frequently use these sites to explain overall design ideas as well as specific ideas such as lighting, hardware, backsplash tile, and more.”

Callen Blog Photo - How Technology is Changing Home Design 122815Marie and Paulette said there is a variety of new technology being incorporated into designs throughout the home. For example, in the kitchen USB ports for docking and charging stations are being added, with televisions being incorporated into the space. “Induction cooking unit are becoming very popular and setting all lighting on dimmers is a feature I’m putting in all of my designs,” Paulette said. A more recent feature in bathroom is an exhaust fan with sensors to turn the unit on when it sense humidity.

In terms of current technology, Marie believes there is one item that will soon become irrelevant. “Keyboards in general will be seldom used or obsolete,” she said. “I believe we will just be talking to our phones or other portable devices.”

Paulette said that with everything going wireless, it will continue to be easier to install technology in existing spaces. “As we move forward with home renovations, every part of the home will be impacted by technology. I’m excited to see what the future holds, and how I get to help people make their home perform to its full capacity,” she said.

Call Callen today at 414-765-2585 to schedule a no-obligation consultation. We’ll be happy to provide you with a FREE quote for your remodeling project.



The ‘Smart’ Kitchen Is Here as Appliances Go High-Tech

kitchen1By Doreen Schofield

My family considers me technically stifled for I choose not to hold my phone as if it were my lifeline and prefer the feel of a book to a tablet.  But little do they know that my tech obsession is in my favorite room in the house — the kitchen.  Appliances, plumbing, and even cabinets have become innovative, automated, and technically powerful.  Julia Child meets George Jetson!

Before I continue, please know that I don’t work for the companies I’m going to tell you about or claim one product to be better than the other.  I just want to share some of the tech savvy “smart” kitchen options that are on the market, for they are awesome.

Let’s begin with some innovative organization from our cabinet company, Starmark.  They offer hundreds of organization accessories like expandable racks, pull-out filler storage, and blind corner revolving shelves, all technically designed to maximize space within your standard cabinets.  Hands full of drippy egg shells?  The super convenient Motion Drive Waste Cabinet will open and close to access trash and recycle bins with a simple touch.

Plumbing has gone “smart” too.  It doesn’t matter if you have two full hands or 10 messy fingers, Delta Smart Solutions Touch2O® offers you the ability to tap the faucet anywhere on the spout or handle with your hand, wrist, or forearm to start and stop the flow of water.  Kohler takes touch-less to a whole new level as well.  The Sensate™ Touchless Faucet is in tune with your every move.  A simple wave of your hand or an object like a spoon or pan will turn the faucet on or off.

kitchen3The real space age fun is in the appliances.  We’ve all seen Kelly Ripa boil water in 90 seconds with the Electrolux Induction Range.  Induction ranges use electric current to produce a magnetic field that interacts with the pot and quickly heats the food.  Subsequently the area around the pot stays cool.

Thermador has created the first high-performance range with a built-in Steam + Convection Oven.  Steaming is a moist heat cooking method that cooks food quickly and maximizes taste, color, and nutrient retention.  The range also offers seven cooking options for a full culinary experience.

GE’s Advantium® microwave oven bakes, broils, browns, roasts, microwaves, and grills!  It’s also eight times faster than a conventional oven.  Using light above and below, the food is cooked like a conventional oven.  Then the food receives a boost of microwave energy to speed up the cooking process.  Voila! Hot and crispy.

Dacor® Company unveiled Discovery™ IQ controller for Android.  Integrated into Dacor’s Discovery™ Series wall ovens, this amazing feature connects the kitchen to the home via Wi-Fi, allowing the home chef to operate the oven from any room in the house using a smartphone or tablet.

Dacor has also introduced the Discovery™ WineStation®.   An argon-gas preservation system allows you to open, dispense, and enjoy a variety of wines for up to 60 days without the need to discard unused portions.

Sub-Zero refrigerator’s peak performance results from its microprocessor that continually monitors each section of the refrigerator’s compartments to enhance the food’s preservation, keeping food fresh up to 20 percent longer.  Subzero engineers were inspired by NASA when patenting their built in air purification system.  Every 20 minutes, the fridge scrubs the air of ethylene gas that is naturally emitted by food and causes spoilage.

GE’s newest refrigerators have hands-free filtered water dispensers.  Using multiple sensors to automatically measure bottles, pitchers, and cooking pots the laser-detecting hands-free auto-fill automatically turns itself off when the container reaches 90 percent full.  GE refrigerators also have LED screens that can display family photos and school art projects.  No more tape left on your fridge’s door.

And last but certainly not least, the Samsung RSG309 claims to keep your food cold and is the first refrigerator that allows you to go on the Internet using its eight-inch touch screen display that acts like a computer screen.  The fridge itself connects to your home wireless network.  You can play the radio, stream the news, send an email, organize your calendar, and leave a post-it note.  With the Internet and food so close together, your teen may never leave the kitchen.

There are hundreds of products and gadgets available for you to create your tech savvy kitchen.  Let me help integrate a few in your next remodeling project.  Your neighbor may think their phone is “smart” but wait until they see what your kitchen can do!