Innovation and Disruption

Innovation and Disruption | Dream Kitchen Builders

This article was originally posted in Kitchen & Bath Business.

Technology is changing the way business is done in the kitchen & bath industry. 

Game-changing innovations in technology like mobile computing, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and computer vision are providing new abilities and opportunities in our industry. All segments are deploying innovative technology on job sites and in manufacturing, communications, marketing and design.

Some changes are truly 180 degrees. For example, in some marketing departments the design of TV and print ads is rapidly being replaced with the design of interactive experiences for customers on social media. Home automation systems that are hardwired, expensive and installed by professionals are being replaced with wireless plug-and-play devices that use AI. 

Design software that was once labor intensive is now simpler and has the ability to “see” so we can import real images in the blink of an eye – and they are to scale. That’s disruptive technology.

Unbundling Projects

Kitchen and bath remodeling “all under one contract” is a service dealers sold a lot in the 1990s and 2000s. It was really convenient for customers to have one contract and person in charge of design, materials, labor, etc. It’s still a service homeowners want, but lately some are choosing to unbundle and have multiple contracts and people in charge and to even do some of the heavy lifting themselves. Technology makes it easier to be educated and more confident about taking on projects around the home. That’s what happens with disruptive technology, things get unbundled. 

Designers are unbundling services too and are offering them by the hour instead of requiring that design and materials be bundled together.

“The way we charge our clients and what makes the most balanced and fair monetary exchange between designer and client is an hourly rate,” said interior designer Mary Douglas Drysdale. “In my experience, clients are put on notice that if they can’t make up their minds or request frequent changes, there will be a cost. We have all sought to achieve a higher level of professionalism, so we should avoid conflicts of interest and charge as other professional consultants do.” 

 

Talking about Innovation

“People typically respond to change and technology by asking what is out there and how they can use it,” said Saul Kaplan, author of The Business Model Innovation Factory. “The right response to changing technology is “How do I use these new abilities to do things differently?” 

He says the way to approach innovation is to start with the lens of the customer and then map a customer experience to learn what they want. Next, you learn about the economics for the project. Then, take a blank piece of paper and think of ways to serve your customers that are better, faster and cheaper in every step. 

 

Industry Disruptors  

A disruptive innovator in the kitchen industry is Wood-Mode Fine Customer Cabinetry. The company is working with Virginia Tech on a project called FutureHAUS Dubai. Virginia Tech won first place for the project in The Solar Decathlon competition last November. Universities from around the world competed in this event to show innovative concepts about the future of home design and construction. 

 Jeff Wolfe, marketing director with WoodMode, said his company worked with Virginia Tech to design, build and install cabinetry that’s customized to fit new technology, such as adjustable-height cabinetry. The unitized walls or cartridges of the FutureHAUS smart home are dropped into a new home from above, one wall at a time. The technology is plug and play, and the assembly and construction is less labor intensive. We’ve always built on top of floors, so building things into walls is truly innovative.  

“Wood-Mode is also using disruptive programs by integrating LED lighting into the custom cabinetry design process,” said Wolfe, who explained that the light can be applied to almost any interior and can be operated with a switch, remote control or mobile app.  

The integration of lighting systems into cabinetry in a factory is disrupting the way homes are built. By combining mechanicals and cabinetry, the installation is simple and faster. 

“Kitchen cabinet installations are getting disrupted too,” according to Wolfe. “As the installation continues to see more integration of product and technology, it’s not just carpenters installing a box. Now designers and system technicians are involved in the installation plan, as cabinets become connected to the home’s central technology center.” 

Mobile App Innovation

AR has been around for a while, but it recently got a big boost when Apple launched the mobile AR platform ARKit. Anybody with an Apple mobile device can now experience and design with AR. Kavtek is a Canadian app start up using it to enable home design.

“Marketing and sales are the top reasons realtors use Kavtek,” said Chris Bellissimo, marketing manager with the company. “Realtors, builders and designers can easily design home-staging experiences and get different looks on the spot.” 

But many realtors are struggling to connect with millennials, according to Bellissimo. Some realtors prefer computers over mobile devices for business. They buy media ads to push their content the way they’ve always done it, and they don’t do inbound marketing. But social media and new technologies like AR are exactly what millennials want.

In the 1980s, PCs and CAD design were innovative game-changing tools that gave designers and image-centric business a competitive advantage. Back then, computer input was labor intensive, and the software was expensive. Thirty years later, we have tools like AR and computer vision that are free, easy to use, smarter and better. 

Smart Home Transparency and Trust

Smart Home Transparency and Trust  |  Dream Kitchen Builders

If you have smart devices in your home like a smart speaker or a smart appliance then you have given permission to a tech company to share your data. Consumers have given a level of trust to tech companies up until now but that may all be changing. The loss of trust and lack of transparency by Facebook will likely have far reaching effects and maybe none more than in the home automation and smart technology industry which is just in its infancy.

Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri and Samsung Bixby smart assistants all share personal data with app developers, it’s part of their user agreements. Some user agreements like Houzz' give ownership rights of your data to themselves — forever. Appliance companies like Samsung mine personal data from your smart devices like your refrigerator, washer/dryer and TV. In 2015 Samsung warned its SmartTV customers that every word they say in the same room as their SmartTV is being captured and sent over the Internet

Facebook and Instagram and other social media companies pass your personal data on to other entities such as app developers and you agreed to this in the user agreement. In some cases an honor system is in place between the software company and the app developer about sharing users’ data. We now know that that self-monitoring system isn't working out and tech companies’ sharing of personal data needs to be regulated. Facebook and their “partner” Cambridge Analytica, a data mining company, have misused personal data of 50 million Facebook users. Facebook has known about this issue for a long time but didn’t share it until this past weekend. This lack of transparency has compounded the negativity of the misuse of personal data and Facebook today is in crisis mode.

This Facebook debacle will hopefully shine a light on the need for a personal data bill of rights in the United States. This is particularly important for home automation and smart kitchens since this data is our most personal and intimate details of home life.

Mark Zuckerberg is being asked to appear in the US and the UK to answer for the misuse in sharing of the personal data of 50 million people. The European Union has a law on the books that will take effect on May 25, 2018. The USA has no one law — instead we have many laws and some conflict others.

Without up-to-date laws in place to guarantee the rights of individuals regarding their own personal data the home automation industry might find itself in a situation like the one Facebook finds itself in today. It’s time to open up dialogues about user rights and user agreements. It’s time to talk about and do something about trust and transparency in the home automation industry.

KBIS Announcement

I am really thrilled to be asked to do a presentation about "Designing a Smart Kitchen" at the Kitchen And Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Orlando in January. It's such an honor to be asked by The National Kitchen And Bath Association (NKBA) talk about my two passions, kitchens and technology.

If you are coming to the show please come by and let's chat about the latest in smart tech, voice input and artificial intelligence in the kitchen. We'll see you there!

KBIS Announcement  |  Dream Kitchen Builders

Galley Kitchen Fun

Our first Whispering Pines project! This galley kitchen is everything we love about galleys, like how easy they are to prep in and cook in and to clean up after a meal.

Check out the kitchen here:

Galley Kitchen Fun  |  Dream Kitchen Builders
Galley Kitchen Fun  |  Dream Kitchen Builders
Galley Kitchen Fun  |  Dream Kitchen Builders

This pretty kitchen is in need of some storage organizers, updated finishes and some smart technology. All of these objectives can be accomplished with the gut kitchen remodel but good options for a partial remodel as well as a kitchen makeover are available too...What will we do?

Follow along on Dream Kitchen's blog and see the inspiration boards, concept designs and finish selections as we navigate a kitchen remodel with our clients. Stay tuned! 


Dream Kitchen Builders serves Pinehurst, Southern Pines and all Sandhills communities.

Times are changing in the Kitchen and Bath Industry

It's striking to me how much has changed in the kitchen & bath industry over the past 10 years. 

There have been many changes in communications, product sourcing, smart technology and consumer awareness and they can all be traced back to the release of the first iPhone in 2007. Smartphones have changed the ways we communicate, shop, learn and they have changed the way we live in our kitchens. Mal Corboy, a well known Auckland NZ kitchen designer says that all of this evolution has changed the design process. 

Most residential design/build project communications used to be done in person, by phone and by email. Dream Kitchen Builders still uses those tools but now we also use messaging apps and social media apps and we use these business tools to communicate via mobile devices.

The amount of kitchen & bath information that's available to consumers is enormous and growing larger every day. This has made us all educated buyers and given consumers more control of each aspect of a design/build project.  

We're now experimenting with smart appliances and wireless devices in the kitchen and bathroom that use artificial intelligence to help us get things done. I cook so I give voice commands to Siri to set a timer adjust my music and more while I'm cooking. I'm hands free so I don't have to stop what I'm doing. Smart Technology hasn't gone mainstream yet but appliance makers and device makers are designing and producing amazing new kitchen and bath products and early adopters are trying them out and talking about them to their friends.

Last but not least every kitchen and bath product seems to have almost limitless options and price points and many include free shipping. Clients are now buying kitchen & bath products online and sourcing them internationally. 

Kitchens & bathrooms have always evolved but the changes we are now seeing are so revolutionary that they are disrupting the way kitchen and bath business is done, changing the relationship between professionals and consumers and changing the way we live.