Some of the past smart product launches from providers such as Moen and GROHE have centered around introducing or upgrading new products with high-tech features such as voice commands and hands-free activation. Additional details on the past launches of the selected companies as well as recent trends in the residential plumbing IoT or smart home industry have been detailed below.
- On January 21, 2020, Moen launched the U by Moen Smart Faucet, a voice-activated and controlled faucet. Other features of the product include a wave sensor for hands-free activation, handle to adjust flow and temperature, exact and generic temperature voice controls, customizable presets, and “metered dispensing in fractional metric and non-metric measurements from one tablespoon up to 15 gallons.” Depending on the faucet style chosen, price on Amazon range from $430-$480.
- Similarly, on January 21, 2020, the company announced that is had partnered with Nebia to launch the Nebia by Moen spa shower, which uses a “patented spray technology to create the sensation of more water, while actually using 45% less water.” The product was available for purchase in March 2020, and the starting retail price was $250.
- On the same January 21, 2020, Moen announced the launch of a new smart water detector, to add to its Flo by Moen™ Smart Home Water Security System, which it makes in partnership with Flo; the company also announced that the product will be available on Amazon in March 2020. The detector makes it easy to know where and when water is leaking in the house and the price ranges from $49.98 for a single pack to $157.65 for a detector 3-pack and leak sensing cable. The company also announced new additions and upgrades such as:
- Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff, which “connects to the home’s main water line and calculates pressure, flow rate and temperature within the home’s water supply system – delivering data to the homeowner via the smartphone app.” Users can then control their home’s water system from their smartphones.
- FloSense™ 2.0, an advanced “proprietary machine learning technology that uses AI and user feedback to better customize protection for each home.”
- A redesigned Flo by Moen app with new features such as the ability to track multiple devices across multiple locations, and better leverage the data and insights from FloSense™ 2.0.
- In early 2020, the company also announced that its U by Moen Shower product now offers enhanced voice assistant integration with compatibility with Alexa, Apple, and Google.
- On February 19, 2019, Moen announced the launch of a motion-activated lighted garbage disposal which becomes functional when the cupboard housing the garbage disposal is opened. The product was immediately available for purchase on/in HomeDepot’s online and physical stores and retailed at $289. The garbage disposal also comes with “VORTEX™ permanent magnet motor technology, which quickly and powerfully grinds food scraps,” in addition to “SoundSHIELD™ insulation on the EX Series units to help deaden disposal sound levels while it grinds food waste.”
- On the 9th of January, 2018, Moen announced that its “U by Moen™ shower will be voice-activated with Siri® and integrated with Apple HomeKit™. Apple’s Home app allows users to control their shower, and other smart home devices, through a single interface,” will come live Fall 2018.
- Moen announced on January 07, 2018, that it will be expanding its line of touchless faucet technology with the introduction of MotionSense Wave™. Faucets with this technology will “feature a single sensor on the faucet base that provides hands-free control, so users can turn the water on and off with just the wave of a hand.”
- Moen launched U by Moen™ shower on January 10, 2017. The platform was described as a “Wi-Fi/cloud-based digital shower that offers mobile connectivity and unmatched personalization, providing homeowners countless ways to create their ideal showering experience with the push of a button.” The two-outlet system debuted at $1,160, while the four-outlet model debuted at $2,200.
- Moen is part of Fortune Brands, a public company. According to Fortune Brands’ annual report, it made $2.03 billion in net sales 2019 in its plumbing segment, which includes Moen, Riobel, ROHL, Victoria +Albert, Perrin & Rowe, and Shaws. Moen’s specific revenue was not listed in the annual report. However, in 2010, Moen’s revenue was $850 million.
- On the 6th of April, 2020, GROHE announced the upgrade of Sensia Arena, its popular shower toilet. Some of its features include night navigator, a motion sensor, a functioning bidet, and adjustable water pressure and temperature. The product retails at £1,698 on Amazon.
- On September 2nd, 2019, GROHE announced that it had redesigned and added new features to its Sense App, which helps users manage and control their home’s water system from anywhere. Some of the additional features include automatic warnings, notification overview, an overview of all devices and current status, water consumption details, humidity and temperature details, and On/Off mode. The app is available on both iOS and Android.
- On August 14, 2018, GROHE announced the launch of a new shower system, the Euphoria SmartControl. The “knobs can regulate the amount of water, depending on one’s individual mood, from a gentle shower to a vigorous refreshment,” while the “buttons allow the user to select the spray types they desire.” The product retails on Amazon starting from $683.90 for the dual-function two options and a starting price of $595 for five options single-function system.
- GROHE announced the launch of GROHE Sense and GROHE Sense Guard, two solutions aimed at reducing water damage incidents, on the 25th of July 2018. GROHE Sense is a smart water sensor that sends an alert to homeowners when it comes in contact with water. On the other hand, GROHE Sense Guard uses several sensors to “not only monitor water pressure, system temperature, the flow of water or general water consumption, but also to automatically turn off the water supply when it exceeds a specific maximum.” The GROHE Sense sensors retail at $90.95, while the GROHE Sense Guard Retails at $560.70.
- In a related announcement, the company announced the launch of the GROHE ONDUS app to serve as a means through which homeowners can monitor and control their water systems.
- On the 1st of June, 2017, GROHE announced the launch of GROHE Red, a faucet capable of quickly delivering filtered water with a temperature up to 100 degrees Celcius at the push of a button. The product comes with a child-lock technology in addition to the CoolTouch technology, which ensures the tap can be touched anytime.
- GROHE launched the AquaSymphony, a gigantic 1,016mm x 762mm luxurious shower, on the 1st of April 2017. The shower according to GROHE, “transforms the daily shower into an ultimate luxury SPA experience.” The shower stream comes in different modes, including waterfall XL; pure, rain, bokoma, and drizzle sprays; and aquacurtain Users can connect the F-digital Deluxe base unit box that came with the product with mobile devices and use that to control light, sound, and steam. GROHE also employed the use of a popular DJ to create an exclusive song for the device. The AquaSymphony retails over $15,000 in most stores.
- GROHE is part of LIXIL Group Corporation, a Japanese company borne out of the merger between Tostem, INAX, Shin Nikkei, SUNWAVE, and Toyo Exterior in 2011. GROHE is part of the LIXIL Water Technology segment which generated 44.7% of the group’s revenue according to its latest annual report. GROHE generated $1.44 billion in revenue in 2019.
- On June 1st, 2020, American Standards added new filtration kitchen and bath products (the American Standard Filtered Kitchen Faucet and the Filtered Shower System to its line of products. The products help to reduce the chlorine levels in water by 50%. Additional features include an LED indicator to notify homeowners when the filter needs changing or if the battery is low, “Re-Trax technology for smooth operation and convenient spray head retraction,” and “dock-Tite magnetic docking system to securely hold spray head in place.” The American Standard Filtered Kitchen Faucet debuted at $279.99 while the American Standard Filtered 4-Spray Hand Shower Rail System debuted at $179.99.
- American Standard introduced the Beale MeasureFill kitchen faucet on January 31, 2018. The faucet can dispense the exact volume of water as set by the user on the dial window. Additional features include automatic shutoff after five minutes if the measuring function is not turned on, LED light to indicate when the measure function is in use, two spray patterns, and the Re-trax system. The product’s list prices range from $600 to $750.
- On December 13, 2017, American Standard introduced a new Spectra+ shower collection to the market. The marque innovation of the products is the added feature allowing users to change the shower’s spray pattern by simply touching the outside ring of the showerhead. For users with mobility issues or other difficulties reaching the showerhead, users can mount a remote control in the bathroom to control the spray pattern. The price listing of the product range from $79 to $279 depending on the selected showerhead.
- American Standard introduced a new Avery pull-down kitchen faucet collection. The new collection features a touchless technology but users have the option of switching to manual operation. The product also comes with a temperature memory setting and a convenient pause button. The different models retail at prices ranging from $350 to $700.
- On November 1st, 2016, American Standard introduced the NextGen Selectronic faucet line. The products in the line feature American Standard’s Selectronic sensor technology for hands-free operation, as well as “SmarTherm technology that incorporates an ASSE 1070-certified thermostatic hot water temperature limiter into the faucet.” The product is priced at $650.
- On May 13, 2016, American Standard also introduced the “SpaLet AT200 luxury dual-flush toilet with indulgent bidet functions.” Some features of the SpaLet AT200 include automatic cleansing, motion sensor, a dual-action flushing system that consumes less water, and remote control for a high-tech experience. The SpaLet AT200 debuted at $4,200 retail price, while the less sophisticated SpaLet AT100 debuted at $995.
- On July 11, 2016, American Standard introduced the Selectronic Beale faucet line featuring touchless operation which can be restricted by simply sliding a door over the sensor. The products also feature the “Re-Trax technology for smooth operation and convenient spray head retraction,” and “dock-Tite magnetic docking system to securely hold spray head in place.” The Beale collection’s retail price range from $350 to $700.
- On May 2, 2016, American Standard announced the launch of ActiVate, a no-touch toilet flush technology. All users have to do to flush the toilet is to wave their hands close to the sensor. In addition to the no-touch feature, the toilet also offers water savings as well as a manual sensor located on the sensor itself. They debuted at a retail price ranging from $635 to $661 depending on the selected style.
- American Standard is part of the LIXIL Corporate Group after it was acquired in 2013 for $542 million. American Brands currently has an estimated revenue of $2.36 billion.
- The research team’s analysis of Amazon/Alexa shows that the company does not directly participate in IoT plumbing products or services. That said, it offers services, particularly IoT, that can be leveraged to provide IoT products or services.
- For example, in November 2019, Amazon announced the introduction of Alexa Voice Service Integration for AWS IoT Core and described it as “a new way to cost-effectively bring Alexa Voice to any type of connected device.” The company further added that “to make the AVS Integration for AWS IoT Core as simple as possible, APN partners have launched AVS qualified hardware development kits enabled by real-time operating systems for microcontrollers like Amazon FreeRTOS that connect to AWS IoT Core by default.”
- In 2015, Amazon also announced that it was giving smart home developers access to the Alexa Skills Kit so they can integrate Alexa fully, including “voice activation, speech recognition, and language processing abilities” without the need for Echo smart speakers.
- A report in Fortune Magazine also noted that Amazon, Google, Apple, and Samsung plan to develop a standard for Internet-connected smart home devices so they can communicate with one another and speed up the adoption of smart home products. Analysts estimate that such a standard won’t reach the market till mid or late 2021.
- Amazon also announced in July 2019 that its AWS IoT SiteWise service is now generally available. AWS IoT Sitewise is a managed service that enables users to “monitor sensor-enabled industrial equipment,” including plumbing equipment.
- Amazon’s IoT offerings are bundled under the web services segment. The Amazon Web Services segment generated revenues of $35.03 billion in 2019.
- Similarly to Amazon, Google does not create direct IoT products and services for plumbing only. It, however, develops products and services that can be leveraged by players n the plumbing industry.
- Google offers two services that can be leveraged for plumbing devices, the Cloud IoT Core and the Cloud IoT Edge. The Cloud IoT Core “is a fully-managed service for securely connecting and managing a global network of devices,” while the Cloud IoT Edge is “a set of software packages and services that turns Linux-based devices into full-featured IoT edge devices capable of running and applying ML models at the data source.”
- In 2019, Google also announced the beta release of the Google Home Local SDK; this has been made generally available now at the beginning of 2020. The SDK is intended “to enhance smart home integration with Google Assistant by routing commands to devices through local networks.” There are already device partners on board, including GE, Lifx, Philips Hue, and Nanoleaf.
- Google’s IoT services are bundled under the cloud services segment. In 2019, this segment generated $8.9 billion.
- In September 2015, SmartThings announced the launch/upgrade of three products: the upgraded Samsung SmartThings Hub, a new mobile app, and a collection of sensors. The app was redesigned to “include easier navigation and more intuitive experience.” Additionally, the SmartThings Hub included a new feature called SmartThings Monitor, which allows homeowners to “access and control against intrusion, smoke and fire, leaks and floods, and other common household issues by delivering real-time notifications and video clips from multiple cameras via the SmartThings app.” The Hub was priced at $99 while the sensors ranged from $30 to $55 each.
- In addition to the above, the company also announced that it was now integrated with GitHub. This provides developers with a “more efficient way to write, manage, and share their creations in an open environment.” SmartThings also expanded its “Works with SmartThings” program to include deeper integrations; some of the partners at pilot included Samsung, Honeywell, Schlage, Yale, First Alert, D-link, Osram, Cree, and Bose.
- On July 3, 2019, the company also announced that it had made some updates to the SmartThings platform as well as implemented new ecosystem partnerships “to bring more simplicity, control and fun to the growing Connected Living experience.” Part of the update includes voice integration with Alexa and Google services, compatibility with more than 400 Samsung devices, automation builders, and home monitor notifications related to water leakages and more. Some of the partners added to SmartThings’ third-party services include Philips Hue, Sonos, Garmin, and Popp TRUE Secure Flow Stop (a water shut off valve maker).
- In summary, SmartThings does not specifically make products for the plumbing industry, rather it works as a middle man (by creating an ecosystem) between homeowners and smart home product manufacturers. The SmartThings Hub “allows users to connect wirelessly with a wide range of smart devices and make them work together.”
- SmartThings was acquired by Samsung in 2014 for a reported $200 million according to TechCrunch. SmartThings has an estimated revenue of $10 million.
- On December 4, 2019, Resideo announced the launch of the Resideo Home app. According to the company, the app will make it possible for users to monitor their homes across four critical themes – water, air, energy, and security. Through the app, Resideo plans to pair homeowners with professionals that can quickly help them “prevent costly damages, like water leaks and major appliance failures.” Resideo also announced that it was releasing a Pro version for professionals, which will provide them with tools for account management and service calls.
- On the same day, the company also announced that the Smart Water Management system was available on the new app. It noted that the water system integrates with previously launched products such as the Buoy Whole Home Water Controller and the Buoy Water Leak Detector. The Smart Water Management system was made available as a $9.99 subscription service.
- Also, the company announced other services such as energy services, indoor quality services, critical appliance monitoring services, and security services.
- Resideo also announced that it plans to build a next-generation smart thermostat in partnership with professionals. Part of the announcement noted that the company will introduce alpha and beta test programs in 2020 without any specific details as to when.
- Resideo was spun out of HoneyWell in 2018. Resideo’s connected products are classified under the “Products & Solutions” segment, which generated revenues of $2.49 billion in 2019.
Trends in Residential Plumbing IoT or Smart Home Industry
1. Smart/Brain Pipe Systems
- The need to conserve water and prevent health and financial damages from water leakages are two of the most important factors driving the growth of smart/brain pipe technology in plumbing. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on average, each household leaks approximately 10,000 gallons of water per year, making brain pipes an essential innovation.
- As many as five sources (e.g. here, here, and here) have listed smart/brain pipes as a growing trend in plumbing technology.
- In simple terms, brain pipes use sensors to monitor water pressure in water pipes. Should there be any change in water pressure due to leakage or other circumstances, the homeowner gets an alert on their smartphone showing exactly where the leakage is.
- In addition to tracking water leakages, products like Buoy (later acquired by Resideo) “actively analyzes water use in the home, providing reports to the homeowner or their contractor of choice.”
- This allows homeowners to nip in the bud water leakages that may have otherwise wreaked havoc and made the homeowner incur water damage restoration cost and potentially expose them to mold. Thus, encouraging timely preventive maintenance through just-in-time notification.
- As noted above, the system employs the use of sensors. Research shows that there are currently two popular types of sensors used for such systems. The first simply alerts the users where the leakage is and are relatively cheaper. On the other hand, the second type of sensors goes further by enabling homeowners to shut off the water system to prevent further damage.
- Due to this growing trend, some key players in the smart/connected home market are acquiring smaller players providing this type of technology. For example, Resideo acquired Buoy Labs in 2019. Buoy Labs make water and leakage analytics products.
- Other companies like Moen have also built and debuted their own products in this category. In fact, Moen ended up acquiring a major stake in Flo Technologies Inc., which they partnered with to create those smart water products.
2. Increasing Adoption of High Tech Products
- According to Houzz’s 2019 Bathroom Trends Study, the percentage of toilets with high-tech features has grown from 29% in 2018 to 34% in 2019; a jump of 17%. Popular features among homeowners include self-cleaning (13%), seat with bidet (13%), seat with heating (10%), built-in night light (8%), and motion-activated seat (7%).
- In a similar vein, the report also listed faucets as “another contender for the most teched-out feature in the bathroom,” with 16% of upgraded faucets featuring “no-fingerprint coatings and 3% having touch-only or touch-free activation.”
- The BH&G team also agrees with the outcome of the Houzz’s report having listed high-tech toilets and touchless faucets as two of the five smart bathroom trends. The authors note that touchless faucets while somewhat popular in public toilets are now gaining popularity in residential apartments.
- On the other hand, manufacturers are adding and combining different features into toilets including having a lower flush-per-gallon rating, dual-flush technology, built-in speakers and charging docks, and touchless flush.
- Moen launched the U by Moen Smart Faucet in January 2020. The product can be activated and controlled through voice commands, while also featuring a sensor for hands-free activation.
- Another key player, GROHE announced the upgrade of Sensia Arena, its popular shower toilet sometimes this year. Some of its features include night navigator, a motion sensor, a functioning bidet, and adjustable water pressure and temperature.