The HTSA Spring 2018 conference got under way this week from Orlando, and, as is typically the case with this association, there was a very clear focus on training and education.
HTSA Executive Director Jon Robbins, here just days after the passing of his father Saul, kicked things off by delivering his standard State of the Union address. Since the Fall meeting in Chicago, HTSA has held eight different Masterclass sessions—three member specific ones, two vendor specific ones, a standardization Masterclass, and two lighting specific Masterclasses—which truly demonstrates the group’s commitment to training and educating its members. Beyond that, they’ve issued the second version of the group’s Tech Guide for members, entered into the energy management channel thanks to a partnership with Rosewater Energy, launched a curated email repository system for members, and they’ve done extensive research into the wellness space, which we’ll get into shortly.
From a business standpoint, Robbins reported that 2017 saw nearly 37 percent growth of overall vendor partner purchases made by members. “Our people are busy,” Robbins said.
That said, they weren’t so busy that they couldn’t find the time in their schedules for a little romp to Orlando for the Spring HTSA meeting. This event, according to Robbins, welcomed some 319 people to the Ritz-Carlton property here, which is a record-setting attendance for the group.
Finding Their Voice
Voice has been a major topic of conversation in nearly every technology circle for the past year or so. Retailers, integrators, manufacturers—everyone is trying to figure voice control out, why it matters to them, and how to develop a strategy around this quickly emerging service.
To help its member navigate these tricky waters, HTSA invited Josh.ai founder Alex Capecelatro to talk about his company’s efforts in the space, as well as how we’ve arrived at the current state of voice, why it’s the platform of the future, and how businesses can make money with the service.
The reason why voice—services like Josh.ai, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri—have made inroads today, according to Capecelatro, is because the accuracy of these services has reached a tipping point. When Apple launched Siri in 2011, voice accuracy was roughly 83 percent. That was much improved from the very early days of voice, but it still meant one out of every five words spoken to the service was interpreted incorrectly. Since then, voice services have improved to an accuracy level that is now beyond 95 percent. That, combined with wider cultural acceptance, the rise of IoT products, and the massive trove of data that’s been collected have all contributed to voice’s rise as a platform.
The most compelling point Capecelatro made about the platform’s future was grounded in the basic efficiency of voice over type interfaces. The typical human can speak around 150 words per minute, but they only type at roughly 40 words per minute. That speed and efficiency—especially when it’s translated accurately—makes for an ideal experience. And that experience can be a real cash cow for integrators and retailers if positioned correctly. Benefits Capecelatro pointed to include upsetting potential around devices integrated into a voice platform, that wow factor for the customer when things just work, service plans as add ons, and the ease of use of the system.
And looking ahead, voice is only going to improve as a platform. Some of the things that Capecelatro sees coming in the not-so-distant future include voice control everywhere (likely tied to a reliable 5G network), local voice processing that doesn’t rely on an internet connection to work, speaker detection (meaning being able to distinguish who is actually talking to the voice assistant), and more.
This is a topic that we plan to dive deeper on, but the cliff notes themselves are worth the read. HTSA is incredibly close to making official a partnership with Delos, a company that’s been making headlines for developing a building wellness program. As the U.S. Green Building Council made tremendous inroads with their LEED certification program, which gauges the building’s impact on the environment, Delos is focused on how the space between those four walls impacts the inhabitants within.
The company focuses on design that improves personal wellness in several key areas: air quality, water quality, lighting quality, and thermal and acoustical comfort.
To date, founder Paul Scialla and his team have been focused on the commercial space. But the pending partnership with HTSA will bring them front and center with the high-end residential community that Delos believes to be even more critical to its mission. And, unlike the LEED program, which added a premium of 10 to 15 percent when the program first launched, Delos has been able to keep the WELL program’s standards at a level where the premium added to any given project is less than 1 percent of normal construction costs.
At the Spring Conference, Scialla introduced to HTSA members the Darwin platform, which is a piece of software that he said “sits at the intersection of quantified space and quantified self.” Spoken plainly, the platform allows all connected technology in a resident’s home to speak and share data, and then output that data to the user—the goal being to provide information about the current conditions within the home.
The in-home experience that Delos dreams of creating is one where this Darwin home health monitoring system will be able to tap into data provided by a user’s fitness band, for example, and adjust the in-home conditions—things like temperature, the HVAC unit, and lighting—to improve that person’s physical wellbeing.
“We’re getting so good at measuring the quantifiable self” through these health and wellness wearables, Scialla said. The next step then is to track the environment’s impact on that, and make adjustments accordingly. And that’s the real paradigm shift: For so long, humans have adapted to our environment. Here, Delos is asking that Darwin take the environment we’re living and working in, understand its impact on our health, and make it adapt to us.
At the end of the day, that provides the integrator with a completely different narrative that they can go and pitch a client on. And when it’s their health that you’re talking about, you’re more likely to get their attention and ultimately their business.