So much has changed since Bethesda Systems President Jon Stovall built the Alexa smart home display for CEDIA 2016. Since then, he’s witnessed the continued explosion of smart devices and supporting Alexa skills. The opportunity today, he says, lies not in the individual devices but in creating seamless experiences for homeowners. It’s no surprise, then, that Brookfield Residential chose Bethesda Systems as the integrator for its Alexa-powered model home.
For Stovall, that effort underscored the fact that smart homes are no longer just the for custom homeowners. Homebuilders, though, aren’t experts on the electronics and the infrastructure necessary to provide a seamless smart home experience. Therein lies the new opportunity for integrators like Stovall: to design, install, and support standardized smart packages for builders to offer their buyers. And that’s exactly what Stovall is doing with his own distribution and service company Energy Squad with Alexa front and center.
From Custom Integration to Designing the Perfect Package
In addition to Brookfield, Energy Squad is now working with several high-volume builders to develop Alexa-enabled smart home packages of their own. Each package involves a specific selection of smart devices, controllers, and scenes, and often entails building one or more custom Alexa skills.
Integrators can help builders differentiate themselves with creative mix-and-match or multi-level packages. While standardized, each package provides the buyer an experience that feels custom, especially when combined with all the other information and capabilities Alexa brings.
An entry-level package might allow voice control of lights and fans in the most-used rooms like the living room, the kitchen, and the master suite. A higher-level package might add other bedrooms and the basement.
A green package could include smart thermostats, dynamic lighting, and automatic window shades to react to light and temperature. And high-end packages might provide a luxurious spa-like experience in the bath or a kitchen filled with voice-controlled appliances.
Home security packages could offer the keypads, entry sensors, and monitoring. Customers could choose to add automated lights, cameras, electronic door locks, and even the garage door opener.
With the growing number of smart devices available, the possibilities are limitless, especially if the installer also offers a la carte options. That means the opportunity for integrators who can help design these packages is also huge—and growing, says Stovall.
“We wanted to first start with devices and systems that are compatible with Alexa, and that list is growing every day,” says Stovall. “We may use apps to configure the experience to the users’ liking, but after that, homeowners want to control it with their voice.”
Opportunities Abound Before and After the Home Sale
Smart homebuilders also have to plan and incorporate the infrastructure into the home design to support the packages and their future expansion. But as Stovall points out, infrastructure isn’t in most builders’ toolkit. That’s why Stovall’s company also consults with home designers on the foundation infrastructure. That way, buyers can select the initial packages they’re comfortable with, then update or upgrade the home as their needs change.
The opportunities don’t stop there. Integrators can also contract to install and configure the packages to deliver an optimized user experience. Energy Squad performs these services for builders across the US. And he leverages his network of Energy Squad partners to provide customer support, much of it remotely.
“The ability to not only design and install these packages but to maintain them afterwards is a huge value to builders and homeowners alike,” says Stovall. “In today’s market, the opportunity is to provide bumper-to-bumper service for the network, devices, and overall experience long after the homebuyers receive their keys.”
Tour Bethesda Systems' Alexa-powered smart home display, as seen at CEDIA 2016:
Build for Alexa, Earn Perks
Add voice control to your own smart home devices and delight your customers. With the Alexa Skills Kit, you can easily teach Alexa how to control your cloud-controlled lights, thermostats, smart cameras, and entertainment devices. Learn more about Alexa's built-in smart home capabilities and start building your own integration. If you publish a new skill in July, we’ll send you an Echo Dot so you can experiment and daydream.