Light switches are usually seen as utilitarian products that go into every room of a new home but add little to its value. A Seattle-based technology start-up wants to change the way builders think about them.

Deako aims to disrupt the residential lighting industry with its affordable smart lighting system that requires no special wiring or hubs. When used as part of a whole home system, Deako's touchscreen smart light switches can each control one light, groups of lights or all of the lights in a home with a tap of a switch.

This scene-controlling feature had traditionally been offered only in high-end systems and usually only placed in select areas of the home due to high cost and complex wiring, says Wes Nicol, Deako chief revenue officer. Here, BUILDER talks to Nicol about the new product and how it could change the way builders light their homes. It is available to Seattle-area builders now and will be available nationwide in early 2017.

What is Deako?
Deako is a Seattle-based tech company that provides cutting-edge smart lighting features and experiences at a fraction of the cost of what has been traditionally out on the market. We only sell switches, and provide a beautiful app, set up and provisioning for free - no complex wires, hubs, or monthly service fees. We also believe in future-proofing a home's technology investment, and that is why once installed, all Deako switches are click-in upgradeable in seconds without even having to turn off the power or calling an expensive installer. This can be important with all the rapid advancement and changes in smart home tech, you want to easily be able to link into the next major platform that emerges.

How can builders use the product?
Builders are telling us that more and more of their customers are demanding smart home technology, and this is especially true in tech-savvy Seattle. Up until now, smart lighting has been too expensive and complex to install, set up, and support, so they have typically only been offering it in high end, million-dollar-plus homes. With Deako, builders in Seattle are putting our switches in homes that cost as little as $250,000. Builders can install our simple designer switches as an entry level option for just a little more than the switches they are putting in today, and the end customer can upgrade a few switches or their entire home to smart switches right up until closing, or even after if they choose. The other option is builders are buying our entire smart systems and marketing them as a value-added differentiator for their homes.

We are currently in discussions with builders representing over half of the new homes being built in Seattle and have contracts to go in just under 10% of the new homes planned for next year. We will announce the names of the builders, where we have their permission, closer to launch.

How much does it cost?
Pricing depends on the size of the home and number/type of switches. We have whole home smart light packages starting at less than $1 per square foot, and our upgradeable unconnected designer switches start at just a few hundred dollars for an entire home.

What advantages does Deako provide new homeowners?
Whole-home smart lighting is something that you really have to experience to understand. From being able to turn off all your lights as you leave the home with the tap of a button (and not having to run around and ensure all lights are off), to setting up groups of lights (when you enter your home, tap a switch and your entry way, great room and kitchen lights come on), to security (eg: hear a noise at night and turn on your outside lights from your smartphone; or have your exterior lights automatically come on when you arrive home), the user benefits are endless. We also provide the ability to upgrade to new features in the future, without having to rewire or call an electrician, using our patented click-in upgrade system. These little things are so powerful!