Northern Michigan home professionals from Trend Window & Design, American Home Technology, and Waara Technologies share the latest trends in smart home technology.

Who: Susan Kohler, designer and sales representative
Trend Window & Design in Traverse City

With a degree in Merchandising Management and Environmental Design, Susan has assisted Trend Window & Design in window designs for some of the biggest projects in Northern Michigan, including Munson Medical Center and Northwestern Michigan College.

What’s hot in smart home technology?
Pulling down your shades—from hundreds of miles away using Hunter Douglas’s Powerview Motorization system, available on a line of shades that includes the new Sonnette Cellular Roller Shades (shown below). “We have a large demographic of people that leave for the winter, and to have the ability to move their shades in Northern Michigan while they are somewhere warm and sunny from a smartphone or tablet is a huge benefit to their piece of mind while away,” Susan says.

Sonnette Cellular Roller Shades

Who: Tim Stuhr, system designer/project manager
American Home Technology in Harbor Springs and Traverse City

During his 20 years in the industry, Tim has seen a sea-change in what constitutes a smart home.

What’s hot in smart home technology?
We are putting in more commercial or professional-based WIFI systems in residences because there is so much demand for connectivity. Music and movies are streamed in nearly every home. Having a robust and reliable network connection is a must. We also deal with a lot of seasonal customers, so connectivity to their homes when they are away goes hand in hand with a good network. Having a professionally designed and installed network is important to make sure your wired and wireless products can communicate properly.

To put in that infrastructure and wiring at the time of construction can save a lot of headaches in the future when technology changes. With a properly wired home and/or designed system, upgrading in the future is a lot easier.

Who: Todd Waara, owner
Waara Technologies in Traverse City

Since Todd started Waara Technologies in 2000 as a two-man operation, the business has grown to a dozen employees. In 2015 the company was named to the TopTen of the Hagerty Small Business of the Year. From audio and video technologies, the company has moved into home automation and home control in a big way.

McIntosh MT5 Precision Turntable

What’s hot in smart home technology?
We are starting to see a lot of interest in voice control for home automation. People want to integrate their Amazon Alexa or other devices into their home-control network. There is still a need for control panels, apps, or remotes, as voice control is a long way from perfect, but it is definitely a growing part of the industry. Another thing that we see more of is actually a return to some older school products like turntables. It’s an interesting paradox.

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