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31 Jan - 03 Feb 2023

Work to live, live to work

The pandemic has fuelled the desire for intuitive, adaptable, and responsive smart buildings

The pandemic has profoundly changed the way many of us think about how we live and work. Health, safety, and sustainability – powerful concepts reflected at the Smart Building Conference at ISE 2022 – are driving the global smart building market toward $265.37 billion by 2028.

Frost & Sullivan reported that, before Covid-19, out of the nearly 90 million meeting rooms worldwide, only 7.8% are video-enabled. That is quickly changing: with hybrid work becoming more dominant. Adding video conferencing and collaboration technology to every space, large or small, is now a requirement. It’s also key to retaining a workforce and ensuring that them remain productive.

Thanks to the combination of smart sensor technology and the expertise of integrators, homeowners and building managers can create smart systems enabling their buildings to be increasingly intuitive, adaptable, and responsive.

Matt Nimmons, MD, CEDIA EMEA says: “In the past eighteen months, we’ve witnessed a real expansion in the trend for technologies to facilitate working from home, or as some are calling it, living at work.”

As such, the home is now a multi-functional space that provides a place of comfort, rest, and relaxation as well as a secure and practical home office, a learning environment, a cinema, gaming room and fitness suite.

“The biggest developments are not so much in new smart tech, but more in the deployment of it,” says Stuart Tickle, MD at custom integration distribution company AWE. “Now that people are spending more time at home, things previously thought of as luxury have become more standard such as security cameras and lighting control.”

Health and wellness remain in sharp focus as we approach the end of 2021. ‘Well-tech’ is creating new ways for people to achieve their desired health outcomes. Says CEDIA’s Senior Director Strategic Partnerships, Ian Bryant: “Well-tech fits right into the consultative model embraced by many in the CI industry, as they pivot from ‘selling tech’ to improving and enhancing customers’ lives in their homes.”

Giles Sutton, CEDIA Interim CEO, even calls these technology solutions “truly lifechanging… and they are no long reserved for early adopters or the ultra-wealthy.”

The convenience and sanitary nature of voice control is further driving demand for smart appliances. “In particular the growth of dedicated control systems that bring all these devices together and make it easy for customers to navigate and operate via a single platform across multiple control methods, automated, voice and button,” says Tickle.

In this context, remote monitoring and management (RMM) has become more critical for integrators than ever. RMM is one of the key industry evolutions in recent times and, increasingly, becoming a necessity for today’s smart home installation business, says Mark Reynolds, Senior Director EMEA, Snap One.

“The ability to access the right tools (Control, Notifications and Monitoring) and having these fundamental resources available in the convenience of one location only enhances the pre and post installation experience,” says Reynolds. Aside from saving the cost of a site visit, the ability to resolve tech issues remotely, often without even the need to visit the site, is a bonus during a pandemic.

There’s an opportunity here for vendors and integrators who can pull together media management alongside the networking, audio, video cores. “With so many different content providers, most of us have issues in easily accessing what we want to watch content,” says Walt Zerbe, CEDIA’s Senior Director of Technology and Standards. “So, the next big wave is going to be getting someone in who can manage your media for you and make it simple to use.”

The seismic shift for many organisations from on-site working to remote working was an enforced one, but the return to work is unlikely to be a simple reversal of this. Companies are instead looking at long-term ways they can use their buildings more intelligently.

“To battle meeting fatigue, more and more companies are providing dedicated meeting devices that can be used at the home office,” says Stijn Ooms, Director Product Strategy AV and Digital Workplace at Crestron. “Businesses need to make sure that the IT department can track everything and is able to keep the products working and updated no matter what, or where. That can be done through the cloud.”

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