Mason Hall (00:00):

At the end of the day, water touches everyone's lives in some form or another. But most of the time, it's actually invisible. You don't see it. It lives behind the walls of your house, right? So, you're experiencing it at those moments of the day that you need water. Our goal at Moen is making sure that those experience are meaningful, they're elevated, they're delightful. So, when we think of innovation around water, we're thinking of it in terms of how we're upgrading and bringing innovations with purpose to our users.

James Kotecki (00:41):

This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki. CES 2023 is January 5th through 8th in Las Vegas. We are here to get you hyped and get you smart about the world's most influential tech event. What makes it possible to hold CES in the middle of the desert? What makes it possible for Las Vegas to thrive and even exist in the first place? Water. The fact that you might not think about your pipes much is a testament to technology, but maybe your home water system could be working harder for you and the planet, or more accurately, working smarter. Let's catch up with Mason Hall, head of connected product at the faucet and fixture company, Moen. Mason, thank you so much for coming on the show. Let's start with just a quick explanation of what Moen does and what it's actually innovating around the concept of water.

Mason Hall (01:34):

Yeah, that's awesome. Thanks, James, I'm really excited to be here to talk with you today. Yeah, I mean, so to get you grounded, what is Moen? Out of the gate, first and foremost, Moen's a water experience company. Absolutely, we're known and we are the number one faucet brand in North America, and I think that's how everyone knows Moen. But our work extends well beyond that. And truly, at the end of the day, it extends beyond just delivering water within the kitchen bath. We are tapping into the global design and lifestyle trends that surround water and bringing technology into that experience as people live with water throughout their entire home. I'd also add beyond that, James, we're also in the market and looking at how environmental commitments around water, how Moen can educate and elevate awareness for users.

James Kotecki (02:29):

We definitely want to talk about sustainability and education and water certainly plays into all of that. I'm curious when you say water experience company, right, that's a phrase that is both undeniably true, but that's someone listening to this podcast might kind of roll their eyes out like, "Oh, yet another thing that I have to experience. I can't just go out and use this as a utility as I've constantly been used to." What is important to you about defining water as an experience rather than something that just kind of flows around me and I don't think about it in my daily life?

Mason Hall (02:57):

I think that's the important piece here, right? At the end of the day, water touches everyone's lives in some form or another. But most of the time, it's actually invisible. You don't see it. It lives behind the walls of your house, right? So, you're experiencing it at those moments of the day that you need water. Our goal at Moen is making sure that those experience are meaningful, they're elevated, they're delightful. So, when we think of innovation around water, we're thinking of it in terms of how we're upgrading and bringing innovations with purpose to our users. And I'd say really the most significant advancement in that is the smart water network that we've brought to life.

James Kotecki (03:37):

Okay, so let's get into this. When we talk about connected water systems, smart water system, what does it actually mean from my experience as a consumer in my house, living my life for my water to be smart?

Mason Hall (03:50):

We talk about this term smart water network, so the Moen Smart Water Network, it's really the first of its kind, it's the first whole home water ecosystem. And for us, that means intelligence at its core and crossing both product and application from how a user can experience water. So, we're leading the charge in that total control of water inside of the home, whether it's the water flowing through the pipes of your house, exiting the faucet, exiting the shower, or even some cool innovations around managing groundwater and how groundwater can cause damage. All of that coming together when we describe this smart water network within the home.

James Kotecki (04:36):

So then, what does that look like as I experience that as a consumer? Is it something that lives on an app on my phone and I'm kind of monitoring where water is flowing, how it's flowing, temperature, quality of the water, if there's any weird diseases in there that I need to be not drinking it? Is it all of that stuff together?

Mason Hall (04:52):

It's a portion of that and all of it. Like any smart home portfolio and application, we provide products that fit seamlessly and invisibly in a lot of cases inside of the house. Whether that's one of our smart faucets that goes into your kitchen, beautiful designed product looks and feels just like normal faucet, but it has all of the elevated experiences around smart like measuring water over time, also having hands-free ability to control the faucet. Or the shower in your master bathroom, providing a beautiful showering experience, but at the same time being able to warm up to a desired temperature and then also pause when it hits that desired temperature before you get into the shower where you can just come into the shower and hit play. So, these are examples of how the products that we're designing around our smart water network are coming to life so that consumers can experience them in their home.

James Kotecki (05:52):

When consumers start to experience these, I imagine there's that initial wow factor. But then, how quickly do they get used to it and it kind of goes into the background of their lives, but in a way, that kind of elevates their lives to where now they can never go back to a "dumb faucet" ever again?

Mason Hall (06:07):

That's clearly the goal. We like to say we're designing around an elevated water experience. And at the same time, it's not technology for technology's sake. I think we've all experienced the products in market that truly, you raise your eyebrow and you say, "Does that really need to be connected? Do I really need an application to control that?" That's not what this smart water network is about. We're about an elevated product experience, but at the same time providing real value in solving real products with the innovation.

(06:41):

And I'll give you one example, James, especially as it relates to how you led into this conversation around water being in a desert environment like Las Vegas. One of our initiatives is to educate consumers and really as we push forward to stopping the mindlessness of water waste inside of the home. So, we believe you can still have a beautiful experience and elevated experience with any one of those products I mentioned, whether it's your faucet or your shower. And we actually conducted a study in 2022 that shows most Americans, while they understand there's a water crisis in this country, they're not doing much to actually change their behaviors around how they can conserve and protect the water.

(07:26):

That's where I think the magic comes around the smart water network. Because most people, at the end of the day, understand that water is still at this moment inexpensive, available, and plentiful for a vast portion of this country. However, it's still a real concern that water scarcity is looming in the future and especially even prevalent in a lot of these markets today like California and in the Southwest. That's the power of the Moen Smart Water Network. We have the tool to automatically enable homeowners and users of our products to save water and have conservation at the forefront of the product.

James Kotecki (08:06):

How does that look? Could it look like something where if I'm in a drought, it'll make it so that 80% of the typical water that would come out of the faucet comes out so I'm saving that 20%? Or does it stop me from washing my hands too long or kind of senses that maybe I've left? What are the ways that actually works in practice?

Mason Hall (08:24):

We don't negatively impact the experience with the consumer. First and foremost, it's education on the front side of it. An example is our Flo Smart Water Monitor and Shutoff valve. That's a device that sits on the supply line of your home, so where that water shutoff valve and meter is for your house. It monitors the water pressure, monitors the flow rate of the water. It is the brain of your water system when it comes to the smart water network. This device looks for patterns throughout usage of the home. So it's an automatic device. Set it and forget it. It will learn and it will draw conclusions over time and intelligence.

(09:04):

With that technology, it's able to not only educate you around what your usage is, so provide you information around water usage over time, whether that's weekly, monthly, et cetera. And you can set goals against that. You can understand now, are you meeting a water goal that you set upon yourself? So then if you choose, you can take action like you just described, maybe taking a three minute shorter shower in the morning.

(09:33):

I'll give you a statistic that I think is helpful with all the consciousness around water. Average household in the United States uses 300 gallons of water per day. So over the course of the year, that's 100,000 gallons of water. If every household in the US just consumed 5% less water on a daily basis, that would extrapolate to over 600 billion gallons of water of savings annually. So, I think it's incredible to think about the power of this mindset around educating around water usage and the products that can help educate around water usage like the smart water network and then extrapolating that out over the benefits they could have across this country.

James Kotecki (10:18):

So, do you take inspiration from products like Nest, which is a smart thermostat and helps people regulate the temperature and the electricity usage in their house?

Mason Hall (10:27):

I think there's obvious correlations, right? When you think of energy from a usage standpoint, from a consumption standpoint, from a natural resource standpoint, very comparable to that and how we think about water. The short answer is absolutely yes, there's similarities. What we like to think about is we just happen to be on the forefront as a company on building awareness in this category around water usage, consumption and really elevated experience. We kind of wear two hats as we like to say around it. Right? We're driving awareness and then we're also bringing to light the innovations that drive that experience around water, very similar to I think how Nest had to approach the market when their product launched.

James Kotecki (11:13):

Is there a smart water grid or water utility component to this? When we talk about electricity, we talk about a smart grid and how that gets into our homes. But is your technology in the consumer's home meeting some kind of upgraded intelligence on the utility side?

Mason Hall (11:31):

Our products are 100% retrofittable to a home. And that's really the benefit of it. They're not required to have any upgrade on the utility side. A normal consumer can purchase the product, even install it themselves if they choose, if they're a relatively handy person, and then they're off and running. So, they're creating ultimately, I'll call it a smart grid, a smart water grid or network for their house. It really puts the power of what your water bill due on a monthly basis. It puts that into the consumer's hands on a daily minute basis so they can see how the consumption in their house is doing. Even down to the fixture itself, we have intelligence in our Flo Smart Water Monitor and Shutoff that over time will actually inform the consumer where certain faucets and fixture types are consuming more water or less than others. So, it gives you a even more intricate power than just the total consumption of your home.

James Kotecki (12:32):

So now, I can finally have evidence to present to my kids that they were leaving the sink on while they were brushing their teeth and I'll get them to shut that off while that's happening.

Mason Hall (12:40):

Yeah, I mean, we have a lot of feedback from consumers that have children in their house. They like to take the long 15, 20 minute showers. Now, you have information around that usage, so absolutely.

James Kotecki (12:53):

And is it helpful for leaks as well? I had a leaky faucet that was under my sink and it was leaking for leaks. And I didn't notice it because it was coming out just a couple drops at a time, but it did some damage to the floor underneath the sink. If I had had a smart faucet there, could it have detected that just on the basis of a little bit of extra water's being used and it could know that?

Mason Hall (13:11):

Just like before I mentioned kind of the reasons for this innovation of why we believe it's powerful, talked about conservation and consumption of water and that knowledge, awareness of water security. We talk about water security, really it's damage to the home that water can provide. Water can be a beautiful thing when it's flowing out of a faucet when you want it to, you don't want it in your house bursting out of a pipe. There's incredible value that the Moen Smart Water Network can bring.

(13:41):

First kind of out of the gate, we get the question a lot, how prevalent is water damage in the house? Well, it's actually seven times more likely to occur than a fire event in the house. At the same time, water damage, as far as total implication of water loss, a trillion gallons of water a year come through leaks just in homes across the United States. So not only is it causing property damage and really pain and strife for homeowners, but it's also causing usage loss across this country.

(14:17):

So again, we provide a smart water network that can capture those use cases across the home and prevent and minimize the damage. The first of that is what I mentioned earlier was the Flo Smart Water Monitor and Shutoff that 24/7 monitors your house. It learns over time, it looks for those usage patterns. At the first sign of a potential leak, it will notify you and then proactively turn off the water to the house, making sure that none of that excessive water spills onto your floor, damages any of the property.

(14:52):

At the same time, we have technology to prevent groundwater from infiltrating your house. So, a lot of the northeast in this country and other parts of the country have basements and sump pumps. So we've designed a smart sump pump monitor. Again, a smart learning device that retrofits on top of your existing sump pump that at the first sign that the water level is rising at a rate that your sump pump cannot accommodate, we can alert that homeowner that there's a potential issue. Perfect for people, especially when you're away from your house and you want that peace of mind that your home is protected and there's not water spilling on your floor, a product and a solution to provide that peace of mind.

James Kotecki (15:36):

Interesting. Do you have plans to kind of integrate with some of the other smart technologies that might be in a home, smart electricity, smart fire suppression, things like this? I mean, I'm imagining 10 years from now I wake up and there's this one dashboard on my phone that I'm controlling all the different aspects and utilities of my house.

Mason Hall (15:56):

The answer is yes. Today, all of the products I talked about are available and they work seamlessly across each other inside of the Moen Smart Water application. And at the same time, we maintain integrations with all of the main applications across the smart home, Google, Alexa, and also some significant integrated platforms like Ring application. So, if you think of Ring as a security company protecting against intrusion in the house, we're a product that natively integrates with the Ring application so you can actually pull up your Ring app, look inside and see that your home's not only protected from the security cameras, but you can also see the water within your house is protected, if it's on or off.

James Kotecki (16:49):

That's important. There's no more being on vacation and wondering if you left that upstairs bathroom faucet on.

Mason Hall (16:55):

People turn on their showers to warm up their normal traditional shower, run two, three minutes, only to forget sometimes that they turned on their shower. And then you come back and water's been running all day. God forbid something got stucked up and it's spilling onto your floor. Yeah, all those things exist and the products that we have can help minimize that damage and then provide you some peace of mind.

James Kotecki (17:21):

So, we're talking about water security, we're talking about water conservation, this ties in extremely well with the main theme of CES 2023 which is this concept of human security for all. This includes ideas around conservation, around economic security, job security, health security, climate security, all these different things. I think I just want to give you another chance to talk about how you feel like Moen plays into that theme and where you feel like you're a piece of this broader picture and what the company's actually doing.

Mason Hall (17:53):

At the forefront, we want to design innovative and beautiful products like I've mentioned. But beyond that, we really have a commitment as a brand and as a company to educate and elevate awareness around water. And you mentioned a few examples of that today in conservation. Great example is in 2020, an initiative was born. It's called Mission Moen, where we as a company have pledged our commitment by 2030 to save one trillion gallons of water and at the same time to reduce ocean plastics and actually reuse 2,000 tons of ocean plastics in the products, in the experiences and the innovations that we bring market.

(18:45):

So, we really feel passionate around water sustainability and water conservation, not only just through the products, but also from a company, and a brand, and an education perspective. And I think that really ties into this idea of human security because one of the pillars being food and water, over time, this is going to be, it already is, a growing problem that our world needs to face into and we want to make sure we're at the forefront of providing that education. At the same time, we make it an invitation to people. We don't preach it and I think that's important. We want to make sure that we can provide an education point of view around the opportunities that exist to improve and conserve.

James Kotecki (19:33):

How does Moen, and this mission, and this technology fit beyond the personal home or dwelling into things like hospitals, or hotels, or offices, or airports, a lot of other places where people are using water washing their hands. To say nothing of all the industrial applications of water, but just other kinds of consumer locations where I would go and use water as a consumer and maybe as a hotel business, I want to understand how my guests are using water, et cetera.

Mason Hall (20:01):

Yeah, I mean the applications are clearly there, James. Right now, our focus is around the residential implications. And there's a lot to educate there, there's a lot of market to grow there. But water usage,

water scarcity, it doesn't matter whether it's a resident or commercial application. At the end of the day, it's all consumers of water and then we have an opportunity to protect it. And similarly, like we were describing property protection, we announced this past year a product, Flo Smart Water Shutoff and Monitor, and we've extended that into the multi-family application. So not through commercial application, but if you think of apartment complexes and dwellings where property managers want to make sure their assets are protected, our product has that ability to extend in that channel and we're actively pursuing that now.

James Kotecki (20:56):

Is there a privacy element to this where you want to make sure that the water reports on a wider basis are somehow anonymized so that people don't necessarily know when I'm taking a shower? Are there privacy concerns that could come up that you would be heading off right now?

Mason Hall (21:12):

Yeah. And I think it's important at every company, which is this topic appropriately. First and foremost, our user's data is their data. So they're the ones that see their usage across their house as I was describing earlier, whether it's toilets, faucets, showers. It's their data and it's visible to them on what their behaviors are. It is the homeowner and the owner's data. And I think the power is, like I mentioned, like Mission Moen, what we do is we want to make sure in the aggregate that the products we're bringing to market are solving real problems like conservation. So we talked about making sure that we're meeting this goal in our initiative to save a trillion gallons of water. We only look at that in the aggregate across the devices. But it is a very powerful and an important conversation to have around users and data privacy.

James Kotecki (22:05):

So, folks are about to convene at CES 2023. We will be many of us flying over a very desert landscape, so then get to the glittering city of Las Vegas and we will walk into the convention hall and see the Moen booth. What are we going to actually see and experience there?

Mason Hall (22:22):

I'm really excited about CES. It's the one time a year we can get the industry together and really unveil a new technology and some of these exciting innovations. So really excited about it. First and foremost, you'll see everything I talked about on this podcast today around Moen. And you're going to see how Moen is translating really innovation and these environmental and water conservation initiatives, really to educate around the usefulness and the beauty that is water. If you come to the booth, you'll also see some exciting new announcements that I can't drop officially on this podcast, but I'll just sum it up to say we're looking at the entire home, inside the house and outside of the house. No, spoiler alert, but I think you'll be excited to see where Moen as a brand is going and some of this exciting innovation.

James Kotecki (23:18):

Super exciting. Well, Mason Hall of Moen, thank you so much for joining us on the show.

Mason Hall (23:23):

Great, James, thank you for having me.

James Kotecki (23:25):

Well, that's our show for now. But there's always more tech to talk about. Here's a preview of the next CES Tech Talk.

Speaker 3 (23:32):

Human security concept builds on the sustainable development goals that were developed by the UN and Agenda 2030, and I'm attempting to bring the concept of human security into the tech space and make people aware of its importance, what it should mean to any CEO or company that's doing business in our space.

James Kotecki (23:58):

Please subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss a moment and get more CES at ces.tech. That's C-E-S dot T-E-C-H. Our show is produced by Nicole Vidovich, with Mason Manuel and Kristin Miller. Recorded by Andrew Lynn and edited by Third Spoon. I'm James Kotecki, talking tech on CES Tech Talk.

 
 

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