TEN YEARS AGO, we conceived the idea of honoring home systems integration firms for their stellar smart home projects. As was the industry back then, the awards-program started out small, with most companies submitting information about and photos of home theaters. Very few homes with comprehensive control and automation systems ended up in my inbox. Still, we gathered enough fodder to complete our first-ever Home of the Year issue, which we affectionately called “HOTY,” and it quickly became a favorite among readers of Electronic House magazine. As we suspected, home technology enthusiasts seemed to like reading about other people’s smart homes. They liked learning about innovative ways to install and use technology. Both then and now, learning how integrators and homeowners can come together to create something special puts into perspective the process of producing a smart, automated home.
The popularity of our HOTY issue has blossomed over the years. So has the number and quality of submissions. Over the course of HOTY’s 10-year existence, skilled integration companies have kept the Electronic House editorial staff—and our readers—constantly amazed by introducing to us completely new ways of implementing technology into residential settings and crafting some truly novel applications. I still remember winning projects from years back that took home technology to a whole new level of sophistication. There’s the John Madden-esque theater, where its sports-viewing owners used a telestrator to diagram plays right on a 14-foot-wide projection screen. And how can I forget about the our Gold winner of 2011, where a touch of a keypad button at the owner’s bedside activated the iron in the laundry room so that it was good and hot for her to press the kids’ clothes before school. As a mom with kids in multiple school activities, that application really spoke to me.
Although clever implementations of technology have run the gamut, there’s one element that has remained consistent throughout 10 years of HOTY: practicality. Sure, our winners of yesteryear and today exude a certain level of frivolity, but fundamentally, the owners of these smart homes have taken the plunge into high-tech homeownership for practical reasons: efficiency, comfort, convenience, and safety. You’ll hear about these four core concepts story upon story throughout this issue, just as our readers did in our HOTY issues of year’s past. While technology changes at a frenetic pace, the value that homeowners gain from it remains that same now as it did 10 years ago.
If you’d like to see just how much smart home technology has changed—yet remained remarkably the same—check out the award-winners from past HOTY issue on our website.