I’m often asked at trade shows what is the most interesting thing I’ve seen while walking the show floor. Well, the Kitchen & Bath/Builders Show kicked off Monday, and here are some trends that caught my eye:
Next Generation of Plumbing/HVAC Products Are Here
Anybody remember when you had to actually get up and change the channel on your TV? Anybody remember when you actually had to push buttons on a remote control to change the channel on your TV. Voice activation, baby. It’s here, plumbing-style.
Kohler Co. has unveiled KOHLER Konnect, a new platform that allows consumers to conveniently personalize their experience with KOHLER products through app presets, and automate everyday tasks in the kitchen and bath through voice-control. “Voice services and connected devices have become integrated into every facet of the home—with the notable exception of the bathroom, until now,” said David Kohler, President and CEO of Kohler Co.
Toilets, bathroom accessories and HVAC t-stats are now on the Amazon Alexa and Apple Home Platforms. Kohler, for example, introduced a lighting levels on a bathroom mirror that can be activated by Alexa. Kohler’s Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror is the first announced bathroom mirror that has Amazon Alexa built-in. I’m told that the company’s Numi toilet is also Alexa compatible.
The U by Moen is a Wi-Fi/cloud-based digital showering system that offers mobile connectivity and personalization. With Moen’s customizable shower technology and smartphone integration, you can control time, temperature and how your day begins. Use your smartphone to set your shower to the perfect wake-up temperature and your evening shower to the perfect wind-down retreat. Warm up the shower to your desired settings and pause it until you are ready to get in. The app and controller tells you when your shower is ready according to your personalized preferences. Also compatible with the Amazon Alexa platform, you can have Alexa tell Moen to start preset “Morning Shower.”
Now, I didn’t see all of the HVAC offerings on day 1, but over at the Lennox Booth, the iComfort S30 Smart Thermostat doesn’t just control the temperature, it learns lifestyles by adapting and anticipating what homeowners want their home temperature to feel like. The T-stat monitors air quality and pollen levels in a homeowner’s zip code and automatically turns the fan on to clean the home’s air when outdoor levels are high. Also, its “Feels Like” Temperature, similar to a weather report, takes into account indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity to make the home feel exactly like the homeowner wants it to.
This brave new connected world has some contractors a little uncertain about the future of plumbing fixtures. For example, Jeff@ModzGarage responded to our tweet: While I’ve experimented with RF and custom commands to manage “unenlightened” products, #AlexaFlush was completely off the radar. No longer sure about this brave new world we’re entering. #ToiletTalk