It is increasingly important for design professionals to recognise the impact that smart home technology can have on a project.

As part of its outreach programme, CEDIA (the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) has recently hosted two focus group, involving architects and interior designers, in order to better understand their needs when planning Smart Home Technology Integration.

It is increasingly important for design professionals to recognise the impact that smart home technology can have on a project, so holding an open forum which allowed CEDIA representatives to discuss this, was hugely beneficial. At the same time, it is essential that home technology professionals recognise what is needed from design and architecture professionals, to enable technology to be considered at the early stages of a project.

"We asked both groups whether they would prefer working with a CEDIA member and were pleased that we received such a positive response" commented Wendy Griffiths, CEDIA's Executive Director. "They understand that our members are trained professionals, who have a good reputation and complete each job to a high standard. This feedback is extremely encouraging."

Both discussions covered the importance of installing cabling at the beginning of a project. In particular, the interior designer group mentioned that many of their clients are interested in technology, but can only afford a certain level to begin with. For this reason, they want to ensure that it is possible to have the correct infrastructure in place to allow more technology to be added to the property in the future. It was explained that CEDIA has developed a Recommended Wiring Guidelines document. This received a positive reaction from those present.

The conversations moved on to talk about relationships with AV specialists. Both groups expressed how important it is to have a professional who has a good reputation, is up to date on the latest technologies, and will think about the client's requirements, rather than over spec a project. It appeared that both groups require support from a home technology professional when talking to the client about their requirements. The constant development of new products and regulations is daunting, especially when being asked more in-depth questions.

Where there was a difference between the two design professionals is that the architects expect their client to bring up the topic of technology. In contrast, the interior designers believe that they wouldn't be doing their job properly if they didn't start the technology conversation. This feedback confirms the requirement for the home technology professional to work closely with these two industries.

It was useful to find out what consumers are requesting. There were different opinions in both discussions with some comments that clients don't want 'too much' technology. As one attendee commented; "Our clients don't want to not be able to simply close their curtains themselves, instead having to press a button on a remote to do so". This makes it clear that all design needs to be client-centric when considering the specific tech requirements of each individual project.

Following these focus groups, CEDIA is looking at ways to provide new resources which will aid these professionals when working with technology. In turn, this will be beneficial to our members by further improving relationships between our professions.

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