The following piece was written at the CES Tech Event in Las Vegas, NV in January 2024. Author: Tim Costello.

I’ve been observing this vertical of evolving solutions for several years and just hours into #CES 2024 here in Las Vegas it is clear that #robot home services are here to stay. This then poses the question of how new homebuilders can leverage this trend and the massive investments being made by some of the world’s largest brands to further their differentiation from used homes. If we fail to understand this new vertical of home solutions and adopt our home designs for them, we risk fumbling the future.

Robotic lawnmowers have been around for a while.  I remember seeing the Husqvarna robotic mower several years ago and thinking, ‘Wow! This technology might actually become mainstream!’  It was a combination of thoughtful design, led by an incredible brand, and the integration of multiple technologies which enabled it to surpass the MVP (minimum viable product) threshold. Since then, every year more and more brands have entered the robotic home services space.

We are now awash in new robotic home services: lawnmowers, snowblowers, pool cleaners, window washers, floor cleaners (mopping and vacuuming), home companions, pet management, health monitors, security monitoring, healthy air quality management, household energy management, even robotics that will cook for you and make you a drink at the end of the day. The list grows every year covering every aspect of our lives. This new wave of innovation is targeted on creating the “Zero Labor Home”, a phrase I have borrowed from a vision LG laid out for its robotic services.

What separates a simple product from a robotic service is the integration of intelligence (driven by AI), electrification (driven by battery energy density), advanced sensing (driven by Moore’s Law) and cloud services all served up on your very own smartphone. These aren’t things you turn on; these are thinking machines that know what needs to be done and how to do it on their own.

So, what do we as the new home industry do to leverage this new wave of innovation? How do we build for an automated home care environment? How do we use these new offerings to further differentiate between new and used homes? How do we force consumers into a choice between homes that suck their free time away and those that work for them?

I don’t pretend to have the answers for all of these questions but I want to start the discussion. We could build homes with hidden locations for these new devices. Could we build robotic vacuum “garages” under our kitchen cabinets? Can we ensure our floor plans are robot friendly? Can we design our homes to guarantee Wi-Fi coverage throughout the home and property? If consumers are forced to choose homes that allow for seamless robotic household maintenance vs homes that require them to do the work themselves, we can harvest the value created in such designs. If we apply our collective knowledge and skills to this issue, I believe we can continue to build the future together. So, let’s get the conversation started. How are you adapting your new home designs for this brave new world of robotic home services?

 

Resources:

Robotic Lawn Mowers: Husqvarna, Landroid, Yarbo, EcoFlow, Mammotion, Gardena, Greenworks, Aiper Horizon, Lymow, Segway

Robotic Snow Blowers: Yarbo, Snowbot

Robotic leaf blower: Yarbo, Heisenberg LawnMeister

Home Management/Companion: LG, Samsung Ballie, Loona ClickBot, Enabot

Pet Management: Oro, LG, Loona, Rocki

Senior & Health Management: Intuition Robotics ElliQ,

About Tim Costello

Tim Costello has been a pioneer his entire career. As the Technology Planning Manager for Advanced Vehicle Engineering at General Motors, Tim oversaw the launch of the first modern electric vehicle, the EV1. As VP of Global Operations at Applied Materials (the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductor equipment), he drove the transformation of the semiconductor industry’s manufacturing systems from a craft system to a lean, flow production system. Tim then founded the homebuilding industry’s technology consortium, BHI. For 22 years, Tim led BHI and the homebuilding industry’s digital transformation. BHI was the market leader in digital customer acquisition and experience, serving over 1,300 builders which built over 60% of the homes in the U.S. Tim retired from BHI in 2022, but stays connected sitting on the boards of several technology companies. Tim was inducted into the Shingo Prize Hall of Fame for his work in lean process transformation and is a sought-after speaker who challenges traditional thinking and the status quo.

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