Hot Trends in Home Technology

Mills team members Bryan, Brendan and Jack attended the CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design & Installation Association) Expo earlier this month. The CEDIA Expo is THE event for home tech professionals. With over 500 exhibitors, it allows home tech pros complete access to new products and breakthrough innovations in home technology. So, we asked them to share some key highlights from the show:

What product/technology that is available now did you see at the show that you feel can benefit our clients?

Bryan: Tunable white lighting.  “Our bodies have evolved to respond to natural light.”  Throughout the day, natural sunlight changes color temperature – from reddish orange in the morning, to blue mid-day, back again to soft yellows in the afternoon.  Our bodies take cues from this natural lighting.

What if we could change the color of our indoor lights just like sunlight – whenever we want, based on our moods or needs? At the touch of a button, we could transform our Kitchen from workspace to cozy sanctuary? And, we could bring attention to select decor with colored light that accentuates the features of these items?  The demonstrations we observed using what is generically referred to as “tunable white lighting” was compelling to say the least.

In 2019, working with our lighting design and electrical partners, Mills will begin to offer solutions in this new area.  We are very excited about this technology! And how it can be combined with some of our lighting control and smart home features to make the home even more enjoyable.  A short demonstration of this technology can be found here:

Ketra lighting

Kitchen lighting during the day (L) and Kitchen Lighting at dusk (R).  Photos courtesy of Ketra



Photo courtesy of Sonnen

Brendan: The Sonnen Energy Management System. An innovative solution that combines home automation and clean energy to create a smart home powered by solar energy. By combining intelligent energy management and storage system with energy automation software and smart circuit breakers, you can create the ultimate smart home. (and more on this below in trending)

What did you see that you think will be trending in the next 5 years?

Bryan: Home battery storage and DC microgrids. Brendan mentioned the Sonnen Energy Management System available today; this is the first of many products and solutions we will see in this area.  There are many reasons to re-examine the way we power homes.  Over the next 5-10 years, we are likely to see the convergence of several trends:

  • Increase in solar and other renewable energy sources
  • Decrease in power reliability due to an aging grid
  • More devices requiring low voltage, direct current power (lights, TVs, computers – anything with a “wall wart”), and fewer that need 120 volts
  • “On Demand” pricing from electrical companies – meaning you pay more for electricity when it is higher in demand
  • Smarter homes that monitor energy consumption of devices

Put together, these things point to the need to store energy in the home and have an intelligent system optimize power.  While Elon Musk’s “Powerwall” and “Solar City” projects are the best-known examples of this new technology, there are other companies offering solutions in this space.  The Mills team saw working demonstrations of a power storage product from Sonnen, working with Control4 and Crestron systems, to reduce energy consumption and costs.  These systems are deployed today in places like Puerto Rico to solve power issues but are starting to become more common in the United States.

Brendan: Video over IP. Live video “signals” being pushed over Ethernet as a replacement for baseband SDI. Video over IP promises to take full advantage of the convergence of AV and IT, with the ability to distribute video, audio and control signals over traditional network infrastructure.

What was the most unusual or outlandish thing you saw at the show?

Bryan (and Brendan agrees): Digital Projection 8K Laser Projector.  Every now and then, you see a picture so good, you simply shake your head and laugh.  At 25,000 lumens for brightness (10x more than most home projectors) and 33 million pixels (compared to the scant 2 million we’ve been watching in high definition), this is the most amazing image I’ve ever seen.  This is a production product, so for a mere $400,000, you too can watch the most unbelievable projector made today.

What product/technology did you see that you would love to have in your own home?

Photo courtesy of Screen Innovations

Bryan: Screen Innovations “Sail” Shade. Like many Chicagoans, I love being outside when we have nice weather.  However, on my patio, there are times I want bright sunshine, and times I could really use some shade.  Yes, I have a small umbrella for my table, but it would be really awesome if I could make a giant umbrella to cover all of my patio – over 100 square feet – and open and close it at the press of a button.  Enter Screen Innovation’s “Sail” shade.  Simply put, it’s a giant automated shade umbrella that is really, really cool.




Photo courtesy of Lutron

Brendan: Lutron RA2 select lights and shades. RA2 Select is a wireless system ideal for retrofit applications and new construction. Personalized smart lighting and shade control provide convenience and peace of mind and allows you to stay in control of your home, even when you’re not there.