Be a Tech Trendsetter

The hot buttons of home technology today

If anyone knows what’s hot in the world of home technology, it’s the contractor who installs electronic products and systems into homes as his profession. Through day-to-day contact with homeowners, they’re able to gauge the popularity of solutions and applications. Several shared their impressions recently at the Home Technology Specialists of America Fall Conference in Chicago.

If you consider yourself a trendsetter, take note:

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1. Outdoor entertainment spaces.
What used to be an environment void of technology has become an increasingly popular area to load up with speakers, TVs, WAPs and other gear. “We’ve been experiencing triple growth every year in projects involving outdoor entertainment systems,” says Joe Barrett, Barrett’s Technology Solutions, Naperville, Ill. Naturally, people will think TVs and speakers for the outdoors, but gaining more importance, adds Leon Shaw of Audio Advice, Raleigh, N.C., are outdoor-rated wireless access points. These devices, explains Shaw, are critical to ensure that commands transmitted by mobile devices from outside the house are able to reach the intended components (like audio and video components) inside the house.

2. Main floor theaters.
Basements are still a popular place to put a home theater, but homeowners are realizing the benefits of placing their media masterpiece in a room on the main floor, observes Shaw. Located here, families tend to use their theaters more often, he says. However, because it’s easy for sound from the theater to drift into other rooms, adding sound isolation becomes important.

3. iPads.
With the proliferation of apps to control just about every electronic device under the sun, the iPad has established a firm foothold as the control device in high tech homes. Even homeowners who have been using dedicated home control touchpanels are making the switch to the iPad. “At the request of many of our existing customers we’ve been removing touchpanels from the wall and replacing them with docks for iPads,” says Shaw.

4. Automation.

National TV commercials from companies like ADT could be attributed to the growing interest in home automation, but consumers are contacting more than just their local ADT rep for systems. Jon Robbins of HiFi House Group, Broomall, Penn., notes that automation has become a top customer request of his custom electronics design and installation firm. Check out this award-winning system done my HiFi House.

5. Streaming music.
Number 2 on Robbins list of top consumer requests is streaming music. It’s easy, it’s accessible and people continue to gravitate toward wireless streaming systems, although he and other custom electronics professionals still advice customers to consider hardwired whole-house audio systems for the best audio quality. Read more about wireless music systems here.

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