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David Henry of NETGEAR: “Home WiFi is more important than ever, so the work is as interesting as ever”

The emergence of Smart Homes has been vastly accelerated by COVID-19 and will undoubtedly continue its rise. With many working and learning from home, households are seeing a surge in connected devices and the need for worry-free Internet and WiFi becomes more important than ever. At NETGEAR, we are committed to delivering innovative technology connecting […]

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The emergence of Smart Homes has been vastly accelerated by COVID-19 and will undoubtedly continue its rise. With many working and learning from home, households are seeing a surge in connected devices and the need for worry-free Internet and WiFi becomes more important than ever. At NETGEAR, we are committed to delivering innovative technology connecting homeowners to their home and family and ushering in a new generation of Smart Home technology.


As a part of our series about “Homes Of The Future”, I had the pleasure of interviewing David J. Henry.

David J. Henry serves as the Senior Vice President, Connected Home Products. He has worldwide responsibility for both Product Marketing and Engineering of home networking products, encompassing product strategy, development and delivery. He has been with NETGEAR since July 2004, most recently serving as the Vice President of Product Management of the Retail Business Unit from March 2011 to January 2016 and as the Senior Director of Product Marketing from October 2010 to March 2011. Prior to NETGEAR, Mr. Henry was a senior product manager for the high technology vertical application at Siebel Systems (acquired by Oracle Corporation). His professional experience also includes business process and information technology consulting with Deloitte Consulting. Mr. Henry received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering, with an emphasis on Signal Processing, from the University of Washington and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I joined NETGEAR just over 16 years ago. I’ve always loved and worked in technology, but in my previous jobs, there was a big disconnect between the products I worked on, and the everyday people. I was excited at the opportunity with NETGEAR because the home WiFi network touches everyone — for work, communication, information, and entertainment. So, I could talk to anyone — friends, family members, and learn more about how our products are used and how to make them better — because anyone and everyone could be our customer. And of course, it is cool to walk into a store and see a product I worked on, on the shelf, and often in someone’s shopping chart. So,16 years later, home WiFi is more important than ever, so the work is as interesting as ever.

Homebuilding in the US has grown tremendously. We’d love to hear about some of the new trends and techniques that are being used to build the homes of the future.

In the wake of the pandemic, seemingly every industry has been affected in one way or another. The housing industry is no different. By now, many of us may be better adjusted to working and learning from home, developing a routine that helps maximize productivity, or finding a workspace that allows you to comfortably work or learn with minimal distractions. With this in mind, a trend we’re seeing at NETGEAR — and across the globe — is a more concerted effort to ensure reliable WiFi performance is available. And with the state of traditional office and school settings still up in the air, more than ever home builders will go to lengths to ensure strong WiFi connection is available from every corner of the modern home.

There may be times throughout the day where your WiFi performance is less than ideal, resulting in lagging video conference calls, dropped connections while downloading important files, or slow load times when accessing school assignments. If you occasionally experience WiFi connectivity issues, there’s a good chance that the culprit is none other than your home environment or your existing equipment. Objects such as walls, pipes, and wiring all can affect and weaken your WiFi signal. Additionally, some lesser known causes of WiFi interference include fish tanks, mirrors, and even household appliances. A key solution to this is router placement, with many homeowners now opting to place the router in a central location of their home to and elevated to ensure better signal distribution.

There is a lot of talk about Smart Homes. Can you tell our readers a bit about what that is, what that looks like, and how that might help people?

The emergence of Smart Homes has been vastly accelerated by COVID-19 and will undoubtedly continue its rise. With many working and learning from home, households are seeing a surge in connected devices and the need for worry-free Internet and WiFi becomes more important than ever. At NETGEAR, we are committed to delivering innovative technology connecting homeowners to their home and family and ushering in a new generation of Smart Home technology.

In the Smart Home environment, WiFi can become complex with a large, growing number of devices connected to our home networks. At the very least, homeowners will want to ensure their network is running a WiFi 5 (AC) or WiFi 6 (AX) router. With a WiFi 6 router, overloading your WiFi with multiple devices becomes an afterthought. By being able to handle even more connected capacity, you can be assured that your work laptop won’t suffer any connectivity issues or slow speeds being one of many devices on your network. For those who with larger or multi-level Smart Homes that experience WiFi troubles, a more modern solution is leveraging Mesh WiFi capabilities.

Mesh WiFi systems like Orbi Pro and Orbi WiFi Mesh Systems, Nighthawk Mesh systems and advanced WiFi Mesh Range Extenders will help evenly distribute WiFi throughout your home to all of your connected devices via a router and satellite(s).

Additionally, with more consumers turning to smart TVs, smart security cameras, smart locks and smart voice assistants, among other technologies, there is a critical need to for solutions that provide advanced security for every device on your network. NETGEAR Armor, powered by Bitdefender, is an advanced cyber-threat solution for your home, including all of your WiFi connected smart devices. Service offerings like this help to keep family members safe from phishing and online fraud, whether you use Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS, with Armor also scanning and identifying network security flaws, including those on your smart home devices.

Aside from Smart Homes, can you talk about other interesting tech innovations that are being incorporated into homes today?

In the same vein as Smart Homes and another tech innovation that continues to gain popularity in homes is the modern digital art frame. An example of that would be the Meural Canvas smart art frame, powered by NETGEAR, which gives consumers access to thousands of works. This collection of beloved art comes from the Meural Library, a collection of over 30,000 curated works of art, or you can also display content from your own collection. There’s two ways you can interact with your Meural Canvas. You can either use your phone with the Meural app or use gesture controls. Simply swipe to change the image, or if you want to learn more about the piece, you can swipe up. This truly is a modern approach to embracing and experiencing art either individually or with friends and family.

Most recently, we debuted the Meural WiFi Photo Frame, which enables users to experience photos in a beautiful new way with a completely reimagined connected photo frame. Additionally, we’ve developed technology that enables users to share their favorite photos from their phone to the frame seamlessly and effortlessly. The Meural WiFi Photo Frame is a great way to stay connected with loved ones, even when apart as we remain socially distanced around the globe. You can invite family and friends to share their photos right to your Meural Photo Frame and personalized photo playlists. With the holidays coming up, this is an innovation that could be ideal for your home or used as a gift — regardless, it’s another solution to help us stay connected to family in these uncertain times.

For someone looking to invest in the real estate industry, are there exciting growth opportunities that you think people should look at more carefully?

Beyond ensuring homes are built for endurance through ongoing and drastic weather conditions, growth opportunities in the technologies that power Smart Homes will continue to be a huge opportunity. For those looking to invest, I would recommend becoming as familiar as possible with purpose-built Smart Home technologies like modern WiFi routers and cable modems. A home needs to be more connected than ever before due to the current landscape, and those who develop homes built for this environment will need to take a close and careful look at the new generation of Smart Home-based technology powering this new generation.

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