Why a CI (Custom Integration) Home is Different than a Mass Market Home

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When you hear people say that the smart home has yet to arrive, they are referring to a smart home for the masses. As we outlined last week, the smart home has already been here for years — for the high-end luxury custom homeowner. But what exactly does that mean? What makes a setup for luxury homeowners different than for the regular homeowner? By understanding the differences, we can create products aimed at solving specific problems unique to one group over another.


Scale

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For the most part, a luxury custom home is larger in size. A 10,000 square foot home in Beverly Hills, for example, has more rooms and therefore more devices and systems that need to be easily accessible, properly managed, and intuitively controlled.

Complication

The wiring in a custom house can get complicated (Photo credit)

Because of the scale of the home, the electronic systems are typically installed by a home electronics professional (integrator). This professional must design and carefully plan the layout and interactions of all the electronics in the home. For example, a custom home may have an audio system that distributes different music to different parts of the home from one central source along with a Lutron lighting system that allows the homeowner to enjoy pre-programmed lighting scenes throughout. Among other things to consider, the professional installer must meticulously assess and understand the network load, and make sure that the home network is powerful enough to handle these distributed systems. These sorts of considerations are typically not needed in a smaller home with minimal devices installed.

Perfection

Since a home electronics professional has to be hired to orchestrate all the systems in the home, the cost to add this automation can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars, often going north of one hundred thousand dollars. If the homeowner is going to pay this much for something, you better believe that homeowner will expect the technology to work all the time. The tolerance for failure after this sort of money is spent is extremely low. The mass smart home would likely use DIY devices, which, at this stage, are unreliable. The mass smart home today would also likely be installed by the homeowner himself as a side project or fun hobby in his extra time. In that case, failure in the system is much more acceptable.


Because of the complexity, cost, failure tolerance, and sheer size of the home, the high-end smart home is very different than what a mass smart home setup would look like. As technology progresses, becomes cheaper, and more reliable, this gap will close. The difference between these two markets will blur and we will start to see many of the complicated setups become simplified and ubiquitous.

That’s not to say that a home electronics professional will no longer be needed. Indeed, as technology becomes simpler, the number of systems installed will likely grow. In these large homes, there will always be a need for someone to professionally manage and install the electronics. It is just the specific functions that will likely change.


This post was written by Nader who heads Business Development at Josh.ai. Previously, Nader was managing partner at GenYrator and before that he was Vice President / Supervising Execution Trader at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Nader has an MBA from USC and a BS in Electrical Engineering from UT Austin. He likes to play volleyball, travel, and rock out to pop music.


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