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K&B Brands Respond to Today’s Residential Technology Needs

March 27, 2024

There’s a quote from author, consultant and former ad exec John Emmerling worth noting: “Innovation is creativity with a job to do.” It’s a great way to frame what we do when we’re thinking about what’s next in the residential technology space. How can we best create the solutions for today’s residential technology needs that can handle the jobs we need to do?

From End User to Engineering

The key to understanding what the job is, is keeping an open feedback loop. We’re very much in touch with the end users of our products and systems. We are constantly looking for education and insight from the NKBA – especially its members on the local level. During the monthly meetings, the annual KBIS and all the training sessions we’re able to attend, we find ourselves consistently abreast of all the latest trends in the sector.

That, of course, is just the start. It’s essential that our engineering and product development teams are open to these ideas – and they are. It’s incredibly satisfying to see a question that’s been asked by an end user – a thought, a concept, a need or a want – come to fruition as a concrete solution. Nine times out of 10, our team’s response to any request is, “Yes, we can.”

The Challenges

Technology in kitchens and bathrooms comes with its own unique set of issues. Let’s use a common ask: More homeowners are looking for TVs and touch screens that can rise out of a countertop on a motorized lift – and then be tucked out of sight when they’re not in use. While modern displays generate lower temps than their predecessors, there’s still a need to dissipate the heat they do create. And perhaps most importantly, these solutions need accessibility. Should service be required, one wants to avoid tearing into expensive cabinetry to get to the device. That’s why it’s never too soon to get a technology professional involved.

Kitchen Specifics

The kitchen has really evolved as the heart of the home. The family gathers there, and it often becomes a destination for guests when a homeowner is entertaining. Lighting is critical to these projects. You want task lighting that makes meal prep easy, but an overall illumination solution should be able to adapt to mealtime or entertaining. Color temperature and brightness come into play here, and it takes a pro to understand what scheduling and effects work best in that space for that particular family.

The Bath As a Retreat

We’ve seen greater demand for baths that connect with nature; more and larger windows are a trend. This also drives demand for shading solutions that can offer privacy and views at once. The “bathroom as spa” trend is also rounded out brilliantly with the right lighting and ambient music solutions.

Mirrors with built-in video displays have become more popular in recent years – it’s a way to stay informed on weather, traffic and other news as one is getting ready for the day. Sensors and astronomical clocks also come in handy in certain bath solutions. It’s incredibly helpful to have automated lighting when one needs to use that room in the middle of the night.

Voice Control

Kitchen and bath spaces are two areas where voice control can be most effective. Changing lighting or music options while your hands are occupied with food prep can be much more convenient with voice interfaces, and the usefulness of these solutions when one is bathing is readily apparent.

Again, all these systems require careful planning at the earliest design stages. Wi-Fi connectivity is fine for mobile devices, but a hardwired connection is essential for the most effective tech solutions. Treating these systems with the same kind of forethought one might give plumbing and high-voltage infrastructure will yield the best results.

Lastly, it’s important to think of these systems holistically – that’s why companies like Crestron rely on dealers to help create whole-home solutions. A disparate array of devices cobbled together from a big-box store won’t begin to provide the same kind of frictionless experience that a complete, carefully planned system will bring to the homeowner.

By JoAnn Arcenal, Director, Business Development (Residential), Crestron

Photo credit: 2rogan/Adobe Stock