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A hands-on display of smart-home technology is among the attractions at this weekend’s Omaha Lifestyle & Home Expo 2023.
The exhibit reflects an effort this year to provide visitors with an engaging and interactive experience at the CHI Health Center on Saturday and Sunday, organizers said.
The Omaha World-Herald expo, which kicked off Friday, is presented by Cox Communications. It is a showcase for home improvement, remodeling, landscaping, decor and more.
“This year we’re definitely making it much more interactive and engaging,” said Cheri Dickmeyer, regional experiential and events marketing director at the Omaha World-Herald. “In our advertising, we’re saying: ‘Bye-bye old home shows.’ This is something that families can come down and enjoy.”
There are traditional booths erected across the hall floor, but also attractions such as soccer drills, field hockey and even a virtual basketball court presented by Cox.
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In addition, for basketball fans, there’s an expo lounge with the NCAA tournament all weekend long, Dickmeyer said.
“They can get a beer from concessions and go over to the expo lounge and sit on the couch and watch the game,” she said.
Another attraction is the giveaways, including a $2,000 fireplace, $900 smoker and a 65-inch TV, she said.
Visitors will find some new vendors this year, among them nonprofits including the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, Habitat for Humanity and the Open Door Mission, Dickmeyer said.
One area of the expo is focused on health and well-being, and there’s a marketplace area where people can shop for items such as jewelry, aromatherapy and clothing.
In one corner of the hall, visitors can get a close-up, hands-on look at examples of smart-home technology, powered by Cox Internet.
The Cox exhibit demonstrates what’s possible in a home today — everything from smart coffee makers and exercise equipment to an oven with a camera inside so you can watch your muffins cook on your smartphone.
Mark Lawson, chief marketing and sales officer for Cox Communications, said there’s a growing demand for data consumption in homes.
Prior to the pandemic, consumption already was on the rise, but when COVID hit, “it took a spike, and it hasn’t slowed down,” he said.
That was partly because people were sheltering at home and streaming, which takes a lot of bandwidth, he said.
At the same time, he said, new streaming entertainment was emerging, such as sports events on Amazon and YouTube.
“It’s an opportunity for us to continue to look at consumers’ homes and to make sure we have given them all of the bandwidth that they need,” he said.
Some homes have older devices that can’t take advantage of increased bandwidth, he said. Yet some renters are expecting to have smarter homes with features like automated door locks, thermostats and lights, he said.
He said Cox is constantly investing in its network “so that it provides the experiences that consumers demand from us.”
“And a great example of that,” he said, “is us bringing our mobile converged offer to the marketplace, so that now customers have connectivity in the home and on the move.”
The company recently introduced Cox Mobile, with cellphones and data plans, and it is pursuing a vision to offer customers the ability to combine Cox Mobile and Cox Internet.
The company intends to add iPhones to its portfolio of devices at the end of March, he said.
“We will launch officially on 3/31 with the devices in store, start selling them,” he said. “So we’re excited.”
The expo hours are Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for seniors. Children 12 and under are free.
Roeder Mortuary is sponsoring free admission for veterans and active military.
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