Voice activation, customication lead the way for smart kitchen and bath products
Manufacturers weigh in on current market trends.
The halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center were filled with innovative, intuitive and automated kitchen and bath products during the 2020 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show this past January. In fact, the global smart bathroom market size is anticipated to reach $9.77 billion by 2026, according to a study from Market Study Report. Additionally, per Adroit Market Research, the global smart kitchen market is expected to hit $32.48 billion by 2025. Consumers want connected, easily customized products that are convenient to use, and manufacturers have taken note.
Consumers continue to gravitate towards products that make their lives easier, notes Michael Poloha, group manager, IoT, Moen.
“Which is why we are committed to innovation and offering consumers the best, brightest and above all, useful advancements in technology,” Poloha says. “Our smart home offerings simplify everyday kitchen and bath tasks, from using the U by Moen Smart Faucet to fill a pasta pot hands-free, to keeping tabs on your water usage from your smartphone with the Flo by Moen System.”
The U by Moen Smart Faucet — which was on display at KBIS — can be controlled in four ways: With voice activation, a hands-free wave sensor, the handle or a smartphone app. The faucet has the ability to dispense amounts of water from one tablespoon up to 15 gallons at a specific temperature.
“Users can personalize the experience by setting up presets in the app for things they do all the time, like fill a coffee pot or the dog bowl,” Poloha adds.
Features like voice activation are being driven by the convenience offered by digital voice assistants, Poloha says.
“They also enjoy the benefits of having more ways to control their kitchen and bath fixtures,” he explains. “That’s why Moen offers compatibility with all three leading voice assistants for its U by Moen Smart Shower, as well as voice-activation capability for the U by Moen Smart Faucet. Voice activated products can make consumers’ lives easier in a variety of ways, from adding convenience to offering more control over managing the water in their homes.”
Delta Faucet Co. also had several voice-activated products on display at KBIS this year.
“We’ve seen a really big trend in using smart assistants in the kitchen and in the bath,” says Adriana Miller, manager, trade kitchen, Delta Faucet Co. “There is now a voice-enabled oven, and we can talk to our refrigerators also. We think that this is going to continue. It’s the novelty — we’ve all seen the many commercials on TV for Amazon Alexa or Google Home. You can talk to your TV, turn the lights on and off and control your thermostat. The purpose of these voice enabled assistants is obviously to make life easier for consumers. So it’s not just, hey, use it because you will like it. They help solve a need, and I think that is what’s really important.”
According to Miller, Delta Faucet is concentrated on voice assistance and the connected home.
“We started in the kitchen because we think the kitchen is a place where families and friends and everybody congregates,” she adds. “That is the reason that Delta started working with voice enabled assistants in the kitchen, but we are hoping to move to the bath in the coming future.”
EFFICIENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY
According to Matt Voorhees, director – wholesale, Niagara Conservation, the smart kitchen and bath industry is trending not only toward smart tech, like sensor-activated automation and smart phone integration for household products, but also toward efficiency and sustainability.
“National organizations like NKBA, ASPE, AIA and NAHB, have challenged themselves and their members to adhere to building standards and codes that incorporate healthier and more sustainable building practices,” Voorhees says. “For example, AIA has established COTE, Committee on the Environment, to set building guidelines that reduce carbon emissions and create building materials and products that are more sustainable. The standard is being set from the design process up, forcing kitchen and bath manufacturers to design products to meet these needs.”
While manufacturers strive to make products more efficient, they’re also adopting sensor-based technology that other industries already utilize, Voorhees notes.
“Toilets now allow users to be ‘germ-free’ through touchless control, or sensor activated flushing,” he says. “Innovations like these allow users to avoid unhealthy or unsanitary situations, like touching a germ-covered toilet handle.
“Leak detection and monitoring tools are becoming more popular too, allowing homeowners and property owners to monitor their water consumption and ensure little water is wasted or causes damage,” Voorhees continues. “Many of these platforms now integrate with smart phones as well, bringing the kitchen and bath industries into the era of smart home tech.”
Other trends in the toilet market include upscale plumbing appliances, such as heated seats and bidets that are popular in Japan and other European countries, according to Voorhees.
“Niagara toilets are known for their water efficiency because they flush at just 0.8 gpf, which meets and exceeds standards for most eco-focused organizations, like the EPA’s WaterSense program and the USGBC’s LEED program,” he says.
Smart kitchen and bath products also offer an advantage to plumbing contractors.
“Ideally smart products like these adapt to the needs of the plumbing contractors and correct the challenges that they have faced in the past,” Voorhees adds. “There’s a stigma around high-efficiency products not working well, and manufacturers across the country have worked to upgrade the quality of technology in products that provide better performance and at higher levels of efficiency.
Plumbing contractors have been hesitant to install low-flow toilets in the past, but with the innovative technology that now exists, they can trust that the products they are installing will be easy to install and will work well without continued maintenance.”
CONVENIENCE IS KEY
The kitchen and bathroom are two of the most frequently used spaces in a home and an extension of the homeowner’s lifestyle, according to Michelle Troconis, senor product manager, LIXIL Water Technology Americas. Therefore, customers look for convenience in their spaces to help make their lives simpler.
“Collections like the GROHE Ladylux L2 SmartControl Kitchen Faucet features easy, push-button on/off for hands-free convenience, an essential feature in today’s busy kitchen,” she says.
Customization and Convenience are the leading trends driving the smart kitchen and bath market, Troconis notes.
“Gone are the days of cookie cutter appliances,” she says. “Today, consumers expect solutions that are uniquely tailored to their needs. At GROHE, we’re committed to providing kitchen and bath products to fit every aesthetic, allowing consumers to personalize their space to their style, while adding a level of sophisticated GROHE technology. For example, the Essence Kitchen Collection features an interchangeable spout available in ten different colors to fit in any space. The customization trend carries over into the bathroom space as well, as more and more consumers strive to achieve a spa-like experience at home. Shower systems like the GrohTherm SmartControl allow users to set (and forget) the water temperature to their liking for a consistent and enjoyable showering experience every time.”