Posted by Leonard Steinberg on January 19th, 2013

This week the discussion arose again about electronics for AV systems and ‘smart homes’ at one of my meetings with a developer client developing a gorgeous luxury building in New York. What exactly does the consumer want delivered to-day in a brand new Manhattan luxury apartment in the way of electronics?

Above a certain price-point, the expectation now is for a minimum of pre-wiring for speakers so as to avoid the need to rip out walls after closing. Electronic power points for electronic shades are becoming more the norm too. After that the waters get muddy: do they want a fully integrated Crestron or Savant system that allows you to control lights, shades, music, TV, AC, heat, security, etc? Each consumer is different and there certainly are a few who want space-ship quality electronics. Usually these people are rocket scientists who know how to operate these systems fluidly. The other day I visited a client who had just completed the renovation of a mega-penthouse in Tribeca….they had installed ‘the works’……..but it was painful to see how at even the light switches they had little hand-written notes describing how to use the system. Something as simple as turnign a light on and off had been made difficult. Really? At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past week there was no hype about life improvement. Aside from Apple, are there any electronics companys trying to make things more consumer freindly or are they merely designing for themselves and their tech friends? Should we really be heaping attention on an event hosting companies that are actively making people dumber, aiding and abetting in the invasion of privacy, and for the most part making life more complicated than rewarding?

In a world where it is considered OK to send correspondence littered with errors, I think its time those designing electronics take a long hard look at the market to realize the majority of us are not tech geeks and when it comes to our homes we would prefer not to have to think too hard about how to turn on or dim a light. I look forward to the day when controls for home systems are as easy to use for a tech geek as they are for a child or an older adult, yes the ones who may also not be able to easily navigate the miniscule type on these contols that usually require a microscope to read!

Come on, you electronics wizards: its time to make your genius work for the people, not make them feel eternally inferior and reliant on a helpdesk to figure out the most basic of tasks in their own homes!