It was an interesting blend on the streets of San Francisco June 25-26. On one end, thousands of IT developers crammed into the Moscone Center West for the annual Google I/O conference to hear “what’s next” from the web’s preeminent authority. One block over, thousands of building professionals and vendors filled the Moscone Center East to see the latest in home improvement and building materials at the 55th annual Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC).
While certainly two distinct audiences, a common theme emerged from both events – how the next frontier of technology will impact our daily lives. While Google went big with wearable devices, PCBC was the stage for a variety of innovative products that meld smart technology, manufacturing and materials with functionality in today’s home.
Founded in 1959, PCBC has been a must-attend event for the industry with direct linkage into the lucrative California/western United States home building industry. The Kleber team walked the halls and visited dozens of booths, one of our work tasks actually, and collected our favorite products on display. We didn’t set any conditions on what we deemed “worthy” for this recap – just the products we found innovative given the show’s overall theme of “New Directions”. Here were our top three – We can’t wait to see what PCBC has in store for 2015.
With a striking booth, lined with Ansel Adams-quality black and white stills of the company’s natural and crafted stone veneer products, Creative Mines made an impression on our team. The company, founded by former executives of El Dorado Stone, uses a proprietary mix- composed of 70 percent post-industrial content- that eliminates the need for smokestack-produced fly ash used by other manufacturers. A high-purity, natural pumice high density pozzolan helps enhances compressive strength and improves durability.
The company also sources natural stone for applications but the crafted product, available in a variety of colors and textures, was as close to natural stone as we’ve found. The company prides itself on being independent from past inventory and outdated equipment so they can work directly with architects on cutting-edge design. The mix of modern production and expertise certainly shows – we struggled telling the difference between real and manufactured.
Seventy percent of homes in the United States have a Liftmaster garage door opener installed. Think about that – an amazing statistic we learned while visiting the company’s booth. While certainly no stranger to American homeowners, Liftmaster is not resting on its laurels. The company was touting their latest innovation which plays into the home automation movement. MyQ is a system that links your garage door opener with a intelligent communications solution accessible through your mobile phone and other linked accessories. With a home equipped with MyQ enabled devices, you can turn on lights, open the garage door remotely or even check to make sure it’s closed. The company is now installing MyQ directly into four new models – meaning homeowners can purchase from the box solution versus piece milling an automation system. We found MyQ particularly interesting given the recent talk of Amazon’s use of drones for home delivery. MyQ, linked with a camera, could conceivably open the garage door for delivery – all managed from your smart phone. The possibilities are intriguing to say the least.
Homebuilders all need land – you can’t pull up to a vacant lot and start throwing up a dwelling either. For decades, finding available land then planning out developments best suited for a particular demographic meant countless trips to the zoning and permits office of a particular county. Even then, the mainly paper-based system was rife with calculation errors and unclear information on the availability of a particular parcel and surrounding demographics.
Enter Zonda – a truly game changing application for the iPad which harnesses the power of Meyers Research – a leading market research and advisory service for US Homebuilders- for canvassing,
evaluating and ultimately selecting land parcels for new home construction. Using GPS functionality, Zonda offers end-users real-time data, indices and analysis at the swipe of a finger. The app can hone in by zip code on bustling areas and mine trends that ensure you’re buying lots in desirable selling points including schools, crime rates and job market conditions. The searches are fully customizable with more than 270 fields and can be exported into a comprehensive report for potential investors.
The application offered an amazing interface with precision zoom, call out boxes and HD quality maps. Even though we don’t focus in this particular area ourselves, we were blown away by the presentation and marveled at its future applications.