3 bedrooms 2 baths …and ready to network

Aug 13, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Square footage and bedroom/bathroom count are basic details sought by any potential home buyer. But thanks to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and its recently announced TechHome Rating System, house hunters can now know the technological features of their future living quarters as well.
“The idea for a rating system was to let home buyers and home builders have a set of tools for comparing the technological capabilities of a house and quantifying what a technological upgrade would bring to a house and how that would translate to their lifestyle,” said CEA spokesman Matthew Swanston.
The TechHome Rating System (THRS) is a single-page form on which consumers list a home’s technological features. Categories include home entertainment, communications, PC networking and Internet sharing, home security and home control/home automation. After listing these features, consumers arrive at a rating between 1 and 5; they then can evaluate and compare homes based on a set of standardized criteria.
“Keeping it simple is really the whole point,” said David Nash, director of consumer Internet strategy for Intel Architecture Labs and a board member of CEA’s Home Networking and Information Technology (HNIT) division-the group that developed the rating system. “When you walk into a major appliance store, that little yellow energy guide sticker works so well because … it gives you some numerical figure of merit where you can compare two things. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do with the THRS-give people a simple number so if two homes are otherwise identical and one home has much better [technological] capabilities, then that home is clearly going to be preferred.”
The THRS, which CEA began developing about two years ago, was launched last month at the 2001 NW Natural Street of Dreams in Hillsboro, Ore.-a showcase of new luxury homes presented by Intel Corp. and the RE/MAX real-estate company designed to highlight the latest in home-building materials and techniques.
Mr. Swanston said introducing the THRS at the Street of Dreams, where all the homes qualify for the highest TechHome rating (5), gave CEA a good chance to explain the system to consumers.
“It’s not readily apparent how networking appliances and products in your home will benefit [consumers’] lives,” Mr. Swanston said. “The Street of Dreams gave us an opportunity to launch in a place where we can point to things and give examples of how this might work and the advantages. It gave us a good platform for explaining some of these things.”
Mr. Swanston said CEA plans to roll out the THRS to consumers and the home-building and home-selling industries. “We want consumers to be asking their Realtor and their builder about the TechHome rating and the technological capabilities of a home,” he said, “and we want the builders and Realtors to know what they’re asking about and to be able to answer them.”
Mr. Nash said he expects the THRS to be accepted by tech-savvy home buyers of all ages and incomes.
“This is for starter homes, for step-ups, for remodels,” he said. “It’s just another important piece of data you want to know about a home, whether it’s yours or someone else’s. It’s right up there with, `How many bedrooms do you have?’ Having a TechHome rating on a home, and knowing whether it’s a 1 or a 5, is increasingly going to be an important criteria for a lot of the home-buying public.”