Being There: The importance of in-person design-build technology events.

WHEN ROALD DAHL BRILLIANTLY TOOK US ALONG WITH CHARLIE AS HE UNWRAPPED THE MAGICAL WONKA CANDY BAR CONTAINING A GOLDEN TICKET, he unknowingly painted an ideal analogy for why the in-person smart home experience has significant value for design-build communities. After attending a recent regional tech show, I was reminded of what differentiates the smart home market from other more commoditized business segments: the energy and passion that drive innovation. This spirit doesn’t just apply to manufacturers; technology design firms, architects, builders and designers find the most creative ways to serve the needs of clients by delivering unique solutions that in the end, are themselves a golden ticket.

And imagine the excitement for visionary manufacturers — working tirelessly on something new, all culminating in a frantic unveiling to a community of professionals who inevitably marry an assortment of widgets and design philosophies, all working in harmony, to tech-hungry users. But matching technology to consumers simply isn’t enough in our space. In most cases the design element will ultimately determine adoptability, which is why we have a channel that combines brilliant engineers with imaginative integrators and designers to ensure that the smart home is a beautiful home. As wonderful as flat panel TVs and architectural loudspeakers have been for home integration, the market has expanded dramatically to include architectural lighting, health and wellness solutions, energy management, and more— with new and exciting innovations appearing at a breathless pace. Rapid growth can seem daunting, but it is what makes modern design-build both challenging and so exciting.

I work with one manufacturer that devoted tremendous R&D to create amplifiers based on a brand-new type of output device — and most end users will never know anything about this exciting technology. But they will know that the sound emanating into their living spaces seems quite magical. Sharing space just a few feet away on the same tradeshow floor, brilliant engineers are creating smarter, greener living spaces that provide smart homeowners with control over their energy usage while reducing carbon foot-prints and easing burdens on an aging grid infrastructure.

As fortunate as we all were to safely navigate the pandemic with the support and creative application of video conferencing technologies, it is impossible to replace the visceral human-to-human experience that enables us to touch and feel the latest innovations. The presence of sales and marketing teams, integrators, engineers, architects and designers milling about together is what helps spark ideas and stimulate growth for all involved — which in the end, is most certainly the golden ticket. (published in Technology Designer Magazine, Winter 2023)