From Dan on May 15th, 2009 in Electrical
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Thinner. Smarter. More Efficient. These are a few adjectives that represent the future of home electronics, and home improvement as well. The undeniable reality is that homeowners do not want to sell (or buy) homes at present. Instead they are opting for upgrades and home improvement projects that serve at least one of two purposes: to increase the value of their home when the market rebounds, and to make living there more comfortable in the meantime.
Electronics — with their growing intelligence, affordability, and home integration potential — are expected to make up a sizable portion of home expenditures over the next few years. The Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) sees several reasons for continued growth of home electronics.
Going Green has become both environmentally and economically contagious. Here in the digital age we use more power-sucking devices than ever; meanwhile energy prices are rising and the environment is struggling. Therefore manufacturers of everything from dishwashers to DVD players are cutting down on size and energy consumption. Homeowners understand that paying a bit more now for a green product will save money over the life of that product; now electronics manufacturers do, too.
The CEDIA report also points to solar photovoltaic (PV) systems as a substantial piece of the electronics pie. The growing affordability of solar electric systems is motivating homeowners to take this green and energy independent route. Not only that, but PV systems greatly increase home value.
Cell phones are smarter than ever. They are already serving as communication devices, computers and soon, remote controls. According to CEDIA, new systems allow homeowners to control a wide variety of home systems remotely. For instance, with only a cell phone (and from any location) you could turn on the air conditioning, open the garage door, or start the oven.
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LCD televisions have been rising in popularity consistently in recent years and, says CEDIA CEO Utz Baldwin, such thin technologies will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. New products will be even thinner, lighter, more energy efficient, and eco-friendly. While LCDs are expected to dominate the market in 2009, Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) televisions will grow significantly as well. These LED TVs are thinner and more energy efficient than LCDs and have an even better picture quality.
It’s all going digital. Analog televisions will soon be obsolete once and for all. Yet TVs are not the limits of the digital age. Digital media hubs are the wave of the future, such as Internet-ready televisions which allow viewers to watch shows on demand online at their own discretion.
Wires, Games, and the Telecommute
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Other important product trends include the advancement of wireless technologies (wireless speakers, security systems, etc.), gaming, and telecommuting. Gaming systems are themselves turning into media hubs, allowing gamers to play other gamers online in real time on the other side of the world; as well as watch movies, download pictures, and chat online. Gaming “environments” are even being designed into homes as gaming (i.e., Nintendo Wii) become more interactive and integrated into family life.
Higher fuel prices and electronic advancement are creating a telecommuting revolution among today’s workforce. Home office technologies that make this easier are a growing trend among home improvements — homeworkers can now access files remotely or host virtual meetings without leaving the house.
While many of these electronics can be installed by the homeowner, their increasing complexity and integration are creating a major force in home remodeling. Home electronics will become as integral to a remodeling upgrade as conventional electricity, plumbing, even the very walls themselves.
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