When experts from Bose, Intel, Microsoft, and M.I.T. gather in the same room, clearly something big is up. These organizations are known to move lightning fast when they see opportunity. Recently, they convened with representatives of Lennar, KB Home, and Kimball Hill Homes, to name a few production builders intent on absorbing where they fit into a fast-emerging market. They met at BIG BUILDER parent Hanley Wood's first Digital Home conference in San Diego, Calif., which was designed to give builders and the rest of the industry a good look at the present and future of digital home opportunities.

Seventy percent of builders offer built-in speaker systems, and those same builders report installing these systems in half of the homes that they build, according to a home builder study from Dallas-based Parks Associates, sponsored by Hanley Wood. A 50 percent capture rate for new digital product sales is an impressive sales rate and illustrates how keen homeowners are about buying homes that are wired.

The study reports that 28 percent of all builders have a dedicated resource to evaluate technology products for their new homes. Of builders building 250 homes or more, 40 percent indicate that they dedicate resources to offer technology products. This new digital market has arrived and is moving through the supply chain.

What are the opportunities with the digital supply chain? As is true for all products that aim at the big builder residential market, builders want a clear value for their customers. They prefer brand names if possible. Reliability is extremely important. Installation services are needed, and, with these products in particular, service after the sale is paramount. All of the digital products today are being offered with some form of this supply chain.

The consumer is accustomed to buying digital products and is well-versed on the systems and brands in the market place. A manufacturer or integrator needs to understand consumer demand and offer a value and brand that is compelling.