IBSx and KBIS is Getting Smarter.

February 16, 2021

As with most things in the current state of the world, the unexpected has become the new expected. As we know, this years’ International Builders Show and Kitchen and Bath Show were cut short after day one, citing technical difficulties. With that, we were able to “visit” a handful of our favorite building product manufacturers booths during day one and it became clear that building product manufacturers are getting smarter during the pandemic.

With each booth we visited, we noticed a significant uptick in smart home technology and connected home products. Since consumers’ homes are now also serving as a classroom, an office, a day care and so much more, it makes sense that brands want to make it feel simpler to be at home all day. A new term we learned at the show is, “purposeful home technology” as it’s no longer just “cool” to be able to unlock your door from your phone, it’s something almost deemed necessary.

Kohler, making bathrooms a sensory experience.


A favorite booth to check out every year is Kohler and they are no stranger to this trend. They even created a shower head with a Moxie speaker that is controlled by your mobile device. It can also be removed as a shower head and used as a smart speaker anywhere you take it. Other smart bathroom products they showed off in their booth included touchless technology, voice-controlled products and the ability to totally personalize how your bathroom “talks” to you while you spend your time there. Their lighted mirrors hear you tell them how you’d like your morning routine to go; their touch-free faucets assuage any fear of germ build up; their heated toilet seats make using the restroom more comfortable while spending so much more time at home these days. Kohler has always offered convenience and comfort and this year is no different.

Whirlpool, keeping the kitchen connected.


When visiting Whirlpool, we learned that they have created an entire line of smart appliances including a washer and dryer, refrigerator and ovens all of which can be controlled from a mobile device or voice activation, even when you’re not at home. You can preheat the oven from the car, or simply “tell” the oven to turn on. If you want to wait until you’re in bed to run the dishwasher, with Whirlpools connected dishwasher you now can. We imagine this convenience is appreciated by moms and dads whose kids are now at home with them all day and young professionals on Zoom all day in meetings, eager to make dinner before 9pm.

Kwikset, keeping your home smart, secure and safe from the front door. 


Having worked with Kwikset in 2013 when they launched the first-ever Bluetooth-enabled smart lock, we are no stranger to smart door technology but what surprised us is the evolution of their connected security products. At its inception, there were some hindrances, like how far away you had to be from the door to monitor it and that you still needed to have a fob with you to speak to the door. It’s new Halo Touch smart lock allows you to interact with your door from anywhere, monitor any and all activity and use your fingerprint to open it when you get home or leave home. With people moving their offices to the basement, having kids at home all day and ordering more online with deliveries arriving frequently, this offers peace of mind and control over the safety of your home. Important stuff.

Show Village, always a smart stop.


You can’t attend the Builders Show and not swing by Show Village. With this year’s show being virtual, they created three online house tours showing how today’s families are spending their days at home and what that looks like in various stages of life. Each home features connected products as they show what life has become since COVID hit.

The first, called “The New New Home” walks us through the day of a young family with small children; the target market being “First Move-Up” (young families). You see them using their home for yoga by talking to “The Mirror”, at-home school Zoom calls, working from the guest room, watching a connected TV together and checking social media often. As you’re watching all of this virtually, products from Kitchenaid, Mitsubishi, Wellborn Cabinet and DaVinci Roofscapes are shown off.

The second home is titled, “The Thoughtful Home” and it’s geared toward wealthier, mature families or multigenerational households. You can see more expensive taste, an older couple with teenagers and fancier products in a larger home. The father comes home from work to ride his Peloton before finding his kids in their “secret playroom” behind a swinging library door. You’ll notice smart Moen fixtures and JennAir appliances, DaVinci Roofscapes, Air King branding and Savaria as you tour the beautiful home.

The third home is “The Healthy + Clean Home” which is a very modern-looking home. The family that occupies this space is hugely concerned about health and wellness, so they have touchless appliances, an automated humidifier that fills the home, and a monitor that tracks for gas leaks and radon. The eat a healthy meal, take bubble baths and go on walks after dinner. The target market for this home is “second move-up buyers” or mature families. The Whirlpool appliances we shared before are seen in this home, which is very cool. You’ll also again see Moen, Wellborn Cabinet and Mitsubishi in this home.

Each is an interesting virtual tour and the trend in connected homes is ever-present throughout all three.

Staying Smart.


Smart, connected homes aren’t necessarily a new thing, but it’s definitely become a new way of living in a time that it’s essential to adjust. It’s always been cool to follow, but as it continues to increase in how it’s being used across the industry, brands are getting very smart. With the effects of COVID and the desire for touchless technology, you can control any and everything in your home from your phone. Except maybe your kids.

Did you attend this years’ virtual IBS/KBIS show? We’d love to chat more about your experience and thoughts. Feel free to call us or shoot us a note at Shawn@draperdna.com.

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