One very pleasant change from the last time I attended was the new venue - it was held at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre in Coal Harbour while BC Place gets its new roof. Although many of the exhibits seem to never change (hot tubs come to mind), there were definite themes around more sustainable living and home automation.
Another product that has come of age is the tank-less hot water heater. Hot water tanks, whether gas fired or electric, are prevalent in BC, mainly because they are inexpensive to purchase and install. However, the energy and dollar cost of continually keeping a full tank of water at a high temperature is wasteful. Why not use a device that instantly heats up just the water you need? Not only does it save money and eliminate the risk of flooding, it also saves valuable in-home real estate - we could all use an extra storage closet!
Home automation is becoming a means of better home management and not just a curiosity. Sophisticated systems will manage your home's energy as well as how you spend your energy (i.e. home entertainment). I visited a booth that specialized in installing a system that can control audio, video, lighting, sprinkler systems, heating and ventilation, and sprinkler systems directly from the internet, an iPod, iPhone or iPad. The system will provide two-way communication between the device and the feature being controlled. For example, if you were playing music in your living room, your iPod would display the track information, album cover and artist while two slide bars would give you control over the volume and track position. Because many of the systems are web based, they can also control your household systems while you are away from home.
Now if only someone could make travel that easy, I'd have a reason to leave home in the first place!
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