Hotels Are Transforming Into Your Smart Home Away From Home
Mitchell Klein, Executive Director
I think it's fair to say that Amazon has become a sort of bellwether in the smart home market. In early 2015, the leading e-commerce and cloud computing brand introduced us to Alexa, a digital voice assistant that would eventually be among the most popular buzzwords of the smart home.
Alexa may be an even more useful assistant in your hotel it seems, with the Marriott deployment
including a host of guest features like hotel information, in-room dining, housekeeping requests, concierge questions and more. On top of that, if the room has connected devices like shades, thermostats, lights or even the TV, Alexa can be used to create a comfortable environment for each individual guest without the guesswork of learning the climate controls or trying to find the correct light switch.
In fact, Marriott and one of its big rivals Hilton created entire laboratories
to test out technologies that may some day make it into their hotel rooms, allowing them to experiment with products and solutions that anticipate guest needs and personalize their experience.
Consumers want familiar experiences and to enjoy the same comforts they get at home - in fact, most want it to be even more convenient and relaxing. (That's why we order room service even though the prices most times are absurd.) I've talked to many colleagues and friends who said while they were staying in a hotel in the past year forgot that their room didn't have an Echo device and went to say "Alexa...." followed by some familiar command they used at home - turn on the living room, play the news, what's the weather like today?
That's why we wanted to focus our summer newsletter on ways the smart home is moving into hospitality and into the MDU market. We focus a lot on the "homes" of the smart home - the single residential dwellings - but the fact is, there's been enormous growth in smart offices, smart apartments and yup, even smart hotels.
Hope you're all enjoying the summer and have taken a vacation or two, even if the accommodations weren't as smart as your own home.
P.S. We are busy preparing for our September Fall Summit
in Philadelphia and our Z-Wave house band (that's right!), The Interoperables, are looking for some band members in the U.S. We especially need a keyboardist and vocalists - shoot me a note (mitch at z-wavealliance dot org) if you're interested!
September 6 - September 8, 2018, San Diego, CA
Click here to receive free attendee pass for non-manufacturers
Z-Wave Promo Code: EXIV840613
September 12 - September 14, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
Receive complimentary Silver Pass with code FEPSBUKART
September 24 - September 26, 2018, Philadelphia, PA
September 25 - September 26, 2018, London, UK
October 16 - October 19, 2018 Tokyo, Japan
Member Pavilion Space Available
October 16 - October 17, 2018 Dallas, TX
Receive 20% off conference passes with code ZWAVE20
January 8 - January 11, 2019 Las Vegas, NV
Member Pavilion Space Available
February 5 - February 8, 2019 Amsterdam
Member Pavilion Space Available
Property Management Companies Are Discovering the Benefits of Smart Home Technology Integration
Bill Scheffler, Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Business Development at eZLO
Property managers have weighed the benefits of upgrades to their rental units for years. Previous trends pushed for modern kitchens with all stainless appliances or granite countertops. Many of these amenities, however, leave question as to whether the effort is worth the payback. Unlike previous demands driven mostly by aesthetic appeal, smart home technology is becoming increasingly valuable as more and more property managers recognize the growth opportunity it lends to building management and renter satisfaction.
Today's rental market is expanding outside of urban environments, college and university towns and the general 'transitional' appeal of renting. Millennials today are renting longer into adulthood than previous generations as more are delaying marriage and first home ownership. Likewise, recent trends show an increase in older demographics leaving behind the responsibilities of maintaining a home and instead opting to age in place with the advantages of renting and shared property management. The technology behind smart home automation allows for a deeper connection between property managers, the units they manage and maintain and the renters that call them home. Below I've outlined some of the ways that property managers can take advantage of what smart home technology has to offer, and how it can help mature the rental relationship.
Renter convenience through smart control
A recent study conducted by PwC indicates that participants ranging in age from 35 to 49 desire to feel more in control of the environment around them. Smart home automation allows users to tap into their surrounding environment through customized control of the climate, lighting, sound and safety; as well as the convenience to build around their usage schedules. Additionally, smart homes can be controlled from a mobile device, a PC or through voice function.
Low-cost investment for high-value perception
A common hesitation for user implementation of smart home technology is the misconception that convenience equals high costs. This is in part due to the market entry introduction of smart home technology as a luxury amenity. That's simply not the case in today's market. Property managers can build-in systems to control thermostats, locks, lighting, sound, etc., at very low cost per unit for big payouts on renter perception. Integration is very cost-effective with plug-and-play systems, such as the one offered by eZLO's four-pillar platform, while maintaining user perception that equates to luxury, and in turn a more desirable unit on the market.
Transparency into rental usage patterns
Smart home technology permits a deeper look into the performance of the whole building. By tracking usage patterns of each unit, it becomes easier to discover gaps in efficiencies and energy expenditures. Perhaps the middle floors of a building don't cool as fast and renters are running their AC units at lower temps; or a heavier shaded side of the building requires more frequent use of lights in daylight hours.
More connected property maintenance and management
The convenience of secure cloud ticket management to report and track issues makes for a better experience for both renters and property managers. Users are more likely to report problems in a timely manner with the added convenience of reporting via their mobile app or computer. This allows property management to address any problems at the onset and avoid costly issues down the line. Additionally, with more rental transparency, property managers are tuned in to usage patterns and can more easily recognize when typical usage is disrupted.
Safeguarding building investment
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, smart home technology offers a self-monitored insurance policy for rental properties. It's not feasible to be at every unit every day, so the remote capability to check in on building functions allows for greater monitoring and control of maintenance. Smart technology can be fitted to just about every aspect of a building, from the boiler in the basement to the HVAC units on the roof, and can be set up to send operation reports or alerts in real time of disruptions in service. This can help avoid costly flooding, fire, disgruntled renters, as well as early discovery of aging systems.
As IoT becomes more common in everyday life across all industries, property managers are primed to offer appealing amenities through smart home automation. This makes smart home upgrades perhaps one of the few added amenities that equally serves purpose for both property manager and renter.
About Bill Scheffler
Bill has spent 30+ years developing and advancing technologies that make present day smart homes a reality. He has worked with many industry-leading companies and maintains a strong relationship with the Z-Wave Alliance and its partners within the ecosystem.
eZLO is a global innovator of home automation solutions, engineering a world-class software platform that brings variety and scale to the home automation market. Building on its proven team of leaders in IoT and security software development, eZLO provides high-quality, innovative software engineering through its first-to-market four-pillar SaaS ecosystem to allow OEMs and B2Bs to enter and compete in their respective markets with smart home technology. eZLO's global headquarters is in Clifton, New Jersey, with international offices in the Philippines and Ukraine. For more information, visit www.ezlo.com.
Connected Tech Isn't Just for the Home:
Hotels, Grocery Stores and Cars are Smartening Up
As more and more people bring smart home technology into their lives, they're becoming used to a daily routine filled with connected tech. This means it's time for the other spaces in our lives to catch up and also get smart. Connected tech is making its way into our hotels, grocery stores, and cars.
Here's how connected tech is making its way outside of the home:
Use Amazon Alexa in your hotel room
Now when you travel, Amazon Alexa can go with you.
This month, Amazon announced its partnership with Marriott International and their new plans to deploy Echo devices in many of Marriott's standard guestrooms. They're calling it Alexa for Hospitality.
The venture launches this summer, so you will soon be able to use Amazon's virtual assistant as a kind of extension of Marriott's concierge services. Guests will be able to ask Alexa to connect them to the front desk, order room service, check hours of operation for in-hotel services (like the spa or gym), and even extend their stay.
Many are wondering if they will be able to log into their personal Amazon account in the hotel to gain access to their own repository of music, T.V. shows, etc. Amazon says these features aren't yet available but may be coming soon. Until then, guests will still enjoy a breadth of connected control, like adjusting the lights in their rooms, changing the temperature, watching T.V., and more.
Amazon isn't the only one bringing smart technology to hotels. Some hoteliers, like the Aloft boutique chain, have been incorporating Apple's Siri technology since 2016, and others are currently experimenting with Google Assistant.
Check-out at the grocery store without the lines
If you're not a frequent traveler, connected tech in hotels may not make much of an impact on you. But how often do you go to the grocery store? Tech powerhouses Microsoft and Amazon are looking to improve your weekly shopping routine by using new tech to eliminate the checkout lines.
- Microsoft is working on a cart-based technology. Using camera sensors and artificial intelligence, its plan is to create a shopping cart smart enough to know exactly what you're putting into it, so you can check-out without the lines.
Similar technologies have been attempted several years ago by Kroger and Stop & Shop without success, but Microsoft is giving it another go and is supposedly in talks with Walmart to adopt the technology.
- Amazon has already made its foray into smartening up the grocery store.
Its Amazon Go store in Seattle uses cameras and sensors to track everything customers pick up and put in their bags or pockets, so they can "Just Walk Out" (as their slogan states) without every making a purchase. The Amazon Go app digitally keeps track of what customers are taking and bills them later.
So far, there's only one Amazon Go store in Seattle, but the tech giant may later expand to cities like Chicago or San Francisco.
Bring your virtual assistant on your daily commute
Having virtual assistants in the home has certainly made life a lot easier. But for many with a long commute to work every day, they want to bring that automated convenience into their cars.
Whether your assistant of choice is Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa, there's a way for you to bring your smart assistant along for your daily ride.
With CarPlay, Apple made Siri the first mobile artificial intelligence introduced to cars in 2014. Since then, Android Auto has brought Google Assistant to your passenger seat, where you can issue commands like "Play my driving playlist," and "Tell me the weather," simply by saying, "Hey, Google."
Amazon has joined the commuting game, too, using Alexa to help blur the lines between your daily drive and your life at home. As you pull into the driveway, for example, you can tell Amazon's virtual assistant to open your driveway gate, turn on the porch lights, and unlock the front door. Some car manufacturers (like BMW and Mini) have even gone so far as to integrate Alexa directly into their infotainment systems.
For additional ideas and helpful tips on how to use Z-Wave for consumers, visit www.z-wave.com
Integrators Are Expecting More at CEDIA Expo 2018
This year at CEDIA Expo 2018, the Z-Wave Pavilion will host Alliance members along with their latest smart home innovations in booth 2715. The Z-Wave Pavilion provides an opportunity for members to showcase their new IoT solutions for the integrator market and discuss changing consumer needs as smart home adoption accelerates.
This month, we caught up with integrator members A.I. Home Automation, LLC and Right at Home Technologies to find out about new products they are hoping to see at CEDIA Expo and their predictions on emerging smart home trends through 2018.
Right at Home Technologies provides smart solutions for older adults and families with special needs. Their caregivers implement water detection sensors and smart locks to keep their clients safe. This year, Ric Johnson, President/CEO of Right at Home Technologies, hopes to find new motion sensors that can be used to monitor individual devices such as wheel chairs and walkers, that are small enough to sense motion in a confined area. Additionally, they hope to discover new temperature sensors and smart thermostats, along with aggressive geo fencing systems that will prevent patients from wandering off their property. "We are also looking to find a valve controller that is code complaint with fuel gas systems to provide a positive shut off of gas feeds during medical emergencies and other traumatic events."
Brian Esarove, Sr. Design Engineer at A.I. Home Automation, LLC is expecting to see more certified Z-Wave Plus devices that are compatible with current offerings including smart door locks, smart thermostats, light switches, and window coverings. With more certified Z-Wave devices on the market, there is potential to offer more solutions to be included into the greater smart home ecosystem. A.I. Home Automation systems are large and cover a wide range of subsystems, and Brian acknowledges this: "trying to find alarm systems that will work with an existing control platform has been a major challenge for my company and many others that I have spoken with."
All CEDIA attendees will have the opportunity to experience new technology first-hand and talk with Alliance members about new products, integrations, and what the rest of the year holds for the smart home industry. The Z-Wave Alliance will also be conducting several CEDIA training sessions for integrators and other interested industry professionals to learn more about designing and implementing systems with Z-Wave.
The schedule includes:
The Ah-Ha Moments with Z-Wave; What You Need to Know to Become the Z-Wave Expert: Design, Installation, Maintenance and Using the Certified Installer Toolkit
With Technology Director, Rick Tinker
Wednesday, September 5
Thursday, September 6
Friday, September 7
2:00 - 3:00 p.m. Room 10
2:30- 4:00 p.m.
10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth - Oh My!
With Executive Director, Mitchell Klein
Thursday, September 6
3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Show attendees can register here.
Differentiating Commercial vs. Residential Messaging
Smart home products improve and simplify the lives of those that use them - that's a top-level message that all marketers in the IoT and connected home realm can agree upon. However, there are specific benefits that are unique to both residential and commercial applications of connected technology that are important for marketers to communicate to their specific audiences. Below are key benefits of automation that your company should keep in mind when developing messaging for either commercial or residential Z-Wave products or installations.
Business owners of small or large commercial buildings can save energy and monitor energy expenditures with smart home devices. Lights, electronics and climate can automatically be adjusted or turned off in unoccupied meeting rooms, retail stores, or after business hours resulting in major savings on utility costs.
Smart home devices can work together as a system to monitor and secure an office building, hotel or retail space. Locations can be armed and disarmed remotely and will send notifications via phone, text or email if there is unusual activity detected.
Smart home technology makes day to day operation of commercial businesses more efficient. With just one touch of a tablet, smartphone or computer, business owners can turn on the lights, open the shades, adjust the temperature, arm security, lock the doors and more, optimizing efficiencies and streamlining operations. Smart devices also help to set a welcoming environment and optimal comfort for staff and employees.
Smart home products make coming home and leaving for the day easier. Residents can use voice control to operate lights, locks, alarms, sensors and more making their homes more comfortable and functional. They can also set schedules for when they want their devices to turn on and off, making daily tasks like making a pot of coffee or watering the lawn systematic.
Homeowners try their best to stay organized and prepared, but the craziness of life can sometimes get in the way. With smart home devices, homeowners can close the garage door on their way to work, unlock the house for the plumber, adjust the air conditioning as the kids get home from school, turn off the lights right from their bed, and more. Smart home devices can help owners essentially be in two places at once by allowing them to remotely monitor and manage their home from a smartphone, tablet or computer.
With a product ecosystem of over 2,400 certified smart home devices, Z-Wave offers consumers product choice flexibility to add any Z-Wave enabled devices to their existing system. With numerous devices available on the market today, homeowners can easily get confused and frustrated trying to determine what brands and products work together. Interoperability eliminates frustration and makes it easy for homeowners to grow their home automation system, hassle-free.
Introducing Our New Smart Home Firesides
It's never been a better time to be a Z-Wave Alliance member - did you know that membership has grown over 60% since 2015? The Alliance membership is currently made up of over 700 manufacturers, integrators, and service providers all supporting Z-Wave and we're constantly growing. With so many exciting product developments, installations and initiatives in the Z-Wave ecosystem, we wanted to start conversations with our members that would dive into the work they're doing. To that end, we're excited to announce our new member video series, the Smart Home Firesides. Each video podcast
is a half hour or less in a Q+A format with Alliance Executive Director, Mitchell Klein tracking the work that our diverse membership is contributing to the smart home and other IoT verticals.
We'll explore topics pertinent to the market including security or energy, as well as general smart home/IoT trends, and also ask questions about your company's legacy and history. Videos will be published a few times a month and will be posted directly to
Z-WaveAlliance.org, as well as promoted through our various social media channels. This is a great opportunity to educate the industry about your company and gain exposure through the lens of Z-Wave Alliance.
If you're a Z-Wave Alliance member or an industry influencer and are interested in participating, please fill out this Google Form.
We look forward to hearing from you - we've already lined up and completed a few fireside videos, so be sure to reach out to get on the schedule. Next month, we'll share where you can watch and listen to our new podcast series. Stay tuned!
The Evolution of Smart Technology in Hospitality
Scott Brennan, VP of Operations and Service, Evolve Controls
The fast-moving adoption of smart technology in homes has trajected the expectation of the same type of experience within hotel guest rooms. However, the hospitality industry faces a unique challenge: balancing bleeding edge technology for the new generation of customers, while keeping privacy and simplicity in place for the "late-adopter" generations. Behind the scenes, hotels are faced with increased energy conservation regulations, optimized room utilization metrics, and proactive fault detection. With new requirements, fixed budgets, and demanding customers, how do we assist the hospitality market address the multitude of challenges they face?
The guests' expectation for their hotel room is that it is as good or better than their own home. Technology such as voice activated controls, interactive technology with personal smart devices (BYOD), and smart AI to be one's own personal assistant/butler has set the bar for the hospitality industry to meet. As hotels are being renovated or built from the ground up, buildings are being fitted with devices to automate the interaction between the guest and the room experience. In essence, build a relationship between the room and the guest, which in turn, develops brand loyalty. Automating the lighting, climate control, and window treatments-once a functionality only found in high end hotels- is now being utilized on a broader basis. Since a majority of these devices are guest-facing, the demand for sleek, minimalistic, and simple to use formats are imperative for technology providers.
The owners/operators of hotels have come to expect more than just the guest "WOW" experience from smart technology in the rooms. They expect accurate data, to determine how efficient rooms are being utilized, reduce room energy spend, and proactively address problems before the guests enters the room. This expectation drives the need for an array of sensing devices. Energy meters, air quality meters, and differential pressure meters-once used mainly in larger common areas-are becoming a standard requirement for guest rooms. Metrics for sensors include minimal latency, battery life of two years or better, calibratable, and low cost per data point. The data must be able to drive efficient, proactive decision making to optimize the operations of the hotel.
The hospitality market is continuing to adapt with the fast pace of smart, in-room technology. Technology companies must be prepared to deliver accurate and meaningful data, with devices that are reliable. The devices that the hotel guests interact with must be visually appealing while remaining flexible to meet the expectations of all customer generations. In spirit of the current trends of the hospitality market, Evolve Controls recently launched an innovative guest-facing device, Evolve Guest Interface (eGI). eGi is a guestroom interface device with sleek, modern touch-screen navigation that places the power in the guests' hands. Guests are enabled to operate room controls with the touch of a button, while addressing the hotel's need for a seamless implementation, minimalist design, ease-of-use, data insights, security, and added ability to incorporate branding elements.