Why Integrators Should Check Out Virtual International Builders Show

Integrators may not think much about the new home construction market, but this year’s International Builders Show will feature plenty of smart home technology worth inspecting.

Mark Jenner
Why Integrators Should Check Out Virtual International Builders Show

With the announcement of the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) IBSx 2021—an all-virtual event—homebuilders, residential construction companies and remodelers are curious about what to expect from the show this year—especially with so much change having occurred in 2020. The pandemic has largely sparked many different residential technology trends and products/features, which we can expect to see reflected throughout the event. And don’t worry if you’re attending Kitchen & Bath Industry Show at the same time, as attendees can visit both virtual events with a single registration.

From a product perspective, there will be no shortage of smart home technology again this year at IBSx. Homeowners have become increasingly reliant on products that offer ease of use, quality, and deliver seamless integrations for a maximum level of convenience within their residences.

That said, one of the most important features that homebuilders should be on the lookout for is ease of interoperability after the new owner moves in. Buyers do not want products that work with a limited number of home automation ecosystems or only integrate with the system a contractor chooses for them. Instead, they want flexibility and variety in the technology platforms they use in their homes, and builders should be prepared to meet this demand.

Expect to see new products that will help builders achieve bottom-line growth and success in a competitive marketplace. This includes more software and digital solutions that improve the builder’s ability to market and sell properties. Innovative solutions that provide virtual tours, or digital kiosks for purchasers to make product and material selections for their homes are just a couple of examples.

Considering continuous advancements in Augmented Reality (AR), new solutions for real estate showings and in turn the greater homebuying experience are on the horizon. AR will allow prospective buyers to experience interiors from a first-hand perspective. Rather than resorting to the traditional route of spending thousands on rental furniture, imagine being able to use augmented reality to stage the home so the purchaser can better visualize the size of the space as part of their viewing experience.

Post-Pandemic Trends to Watch for During IBSx

From a macro-perspective, the real estate industry at large will face new post-pandemic trends and demands from consumers beyond AR. Solutions for providing unattended showings for prospects will likely be one of the prominent implications on software in the future. Homebuilders were increasingly exploring these technologies prior to the pandemic, and we’ve observed an acceleration in the demand for this type of solution now more than ever because of the “contactless” nature of the buyer experience.

Booths at IBS often include multiple interactive or informational displays alongside products.

Beyond offering “contactless” tours, there are significant benefits from a marketing and sales perspective, as well as the ability to provide an improved home buyer experience. For example, purchasers can now tour homes at “off hours” when it is more convenient for their schedules. I’d recommend that CEDIA installers explore these different software solutions, as well as the associated access control hardware. In this way, they can increase their value to residential builders by providing consultation and services beyond just the “smart home” products.

Lastly, I’m particularly excited by the new “Home Tech Zone” that IBS is launching for this year’s event. I expect to see more smart home technology that relies upon WiFi as a primary means of communications. As WiFi continues to advance in terms of battery life performance and ease of commissioning and setup, this trend will only accelerate. There’s also an opportunity for CEDIA installers to advise residential builders around how to install robust home networking products (wired and/or wireless) to support the increasing demand for super reliable internet connectivity throughout the residence.

While the past year has affected many in profound ways, we can appreciate the positive evolution of our industry—particularly in the realms of innovation and ease of use. I’m looking forward to more effective and efficient solutions in 2021 and beyond.

Mark Jenner is the director of technology alliances at Allegion, maker of Schlage locks.