At the beginning of April, we put guest and sponsorship outreach efforts on hold and focused on researching changes in sales and marketing practices in our client base and on what home tech applications might be on the rise in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are about done collecting results from this 2020 Re-Vision survey and will soon report in full.
On the home tech front, I’m seeing what I call the “Big Four” applications emerge:
- Healthy Home
We will dive deeper into each of these four topics through a webcast series starting in the middle of May. Sign-up to receive our newsletter for updates!
Work/Learn-From-Home is a no brainer. A recent CNBC/Change Research survey found 42% of Americans working from home as of mid-April vs. just 9% pre-pandemic. Among those forced to work from home, 1 in 4 want to continue doing so after COVID-19 and another 1 in 5 might. Clearly working from home is on the rise, likely doubling, tripling or more, especially considering the unemployed who are likely to be job searching and part-timing from home online.
What’s different about WFH vs. the past is the full-fledged arrival of collaboration technologies, especially video conferencing. You can get by with a laptop and its integrated camera and mic for a while in WFH, but the ergonomics are exhausting and the UX on video conferencing isn’t ideal. So we need bigger, high-resolution displays, more sophisticated cameras and microphones, maybe even acoustic treatments, lighting, backdrops and white boards as well. And when you have souped-up collaboration technology you need high bandwidth, secure and potentially remotely managed and monitored network gear. Multiple solution stacks like these may need to be established in a home for a working couple and kids whose distance learning needs have similar requirements.
For multifamily builders and operators, dedicating more shared space video conferencing rooms, managing use of those rooms with conference scheduling technology and adding more business center amenities makes sense.
Play-At-Home is another application sector on the rise. Along with WFH, it represents the re-ascendance of AV and networking products in the home tech pecking order. PAH is about the uptick in media consumption that’s ensued during the pandemic—binge watching of series, increased plays of streaming and on-demand movies, streaming and on-demand live performing arts like Met HD, NTL, Broadway HD and Stage Russia, live collaborative performances with friends and family, E-socializing like Zoom reunions and watch parties, happy hours, dinner parties, etc. Media consumption of all sorts is driving demand for upsized, high res. displays, better audio and accessories like lighting and shade control to go with the AV gear.
Safe-At-Home puts the emphasis on security in smart home security—video doorbells, more exterior surveillance, outdoor perimeter protection, panic buttons. Security systems and accessories that contribute to the sense of well-being while in the home are all on the rise. People are at home, and they’re worried about a crime wave that could follow the economic dislocation and social divisions the pandemic is precipitating.
Interest in Healthy Homes is the perhaps the most obvious need in a health crisis, but maybe the least well-defined category in terms of product and feature set. Think air and water quality, lighting tuned to biorhythms and other wellness design factors. It’s about tech and design for touchless experiences with delivery services and other service providers, particularly so in multifamily.
Here’s a visual of the Big 4 categories and the main product and feature sets that go with each…