You will soon have full control of all aspects of your home under one interface, including lighting, air conditioning, cameras, shades, music and video, radiant floor heat and the ability to turn on your steam shower by tapping an app on your phone,” said Architect Adam Meshberg, founder and principal of Brooklyn-based Meshberg Group.
And, more and more, residents will use their voices—not just their phones—to access these applications. “Voice-operated technology is the future of smart homes and we’re already seeing a taste of this with Amazon’s Alexa,” Meshberg said.
Smart home features are now part of the architectural plans for many new buildings. Meanwhile, a growing number of owners are modifying existing assets to accommodate these devices and applications—sufficient bandwidth is vital—and stay competitive. It’s the age of the amenity and residents are accustomed to using technology wherever possible.
Residents of two-year-old Viridian on Sheridan, a 10-story, 100-unit luxury apartment community built two years ago on Chicago’s North Side, for example, can take advantage of a variety of smart home advancements. They begin with NEST thermostats controllable through residents’ phones and progress to the Latch keyless entry system, which enables residents to unlock doors from a smartphone, a key card or door code.
“Latch allows residents to open the door from the phone—from in front of the door or remotely. Or they can send the code out to dog walkers or cleaning people to enter the residence,” said Aaron Galvin, CEO & founder of Luxury Living Chicago, which is handling lease-up at Viridian on Sheridan for Vermilion Development.
Each new move-in at Viridian gets an at-home consultation with Whiz Cribs, a company that helps residents connect the Amazon Alexa to specific smart home apps. “Residents can come in to their homes and say ‘Alexa I’m home,’ or at night, ‘Alexa I’m going to bed,’ and the lighting, music and other systems adjust according to that command,” Galvin said. “The Amazon Alexa can order their coffee from a specific Starbucks. … If there is an app out there, Alexa can connect to it directly. We’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible.”
At the Paragon Chicago, a 47-story luxury apartment community in the windy city slated to open in 2019, myriad smart home features await residents and managers.
NEST thermostats will let residents of the Murphy Development Group building fine-tune warmth and coolness remotely, while smart home technology will enable them to adjust lighting by asking Alexa or Google Assistant for their preprogrammed lighting themes.
The high-rise will leverage Internet of Things As a Service technology to enable a number of smart tech features. San Diego-based IOTAS partners directly with property developers, managers and owners to help them identify optimal smart home experiences for their community, portfolio or renter base.
“We’re bringing fiber to each unit,” said Murphy Development Group Managing Director Chris Horney. “Internet of Things will rest on the backbone of high-speed internet. And we’re bringing 1G internet speed to each unit to allow for future scalability of smart home features.”
Portland, Ore.-based Capstone Properties LLC had 211 units retrofitted with IOTAS smart technology and incorporated IOTAS into 167 brand new units at construction, according to asset manager Stacy Blanton.
Residents of Capstone Partners’ Grant Park Village property in Portland can download the IOTAS app that has been customized for their building under the name SmartApart. They can use the app to program their daily automation preferences, or “stories” as the app refers to them. For example: A resident could confirm her maintenance request was acted upon when her door is opened at 1 p.m. If no maintenance request was made, the program automatically alerts the front office to investigate.
CRITICAL DATA AND CONTROL
While making life more convenient for residents, smart home technology also creates critical data and more centralized controls for property managers.
Horney said having smart home technology at the Paragon will make it easier to manage a building of 500 units. “Whether it’s hosting an event or servicing an elevator, it helps to know when your resident population is in or out of the building,” he explained. “For instance, if you want to host a cocktail hour (for residents), IOTAS would allow you to know that 80 percent of the building residents are typically home by 6:30 on a Thursday evening.”
At Grant Park Village, a smart home system lets managers regulate temperature and energy consumption in vacant units. “During lease up in some of the vacant units, the building manager can use a dashboard to turn on lights and control thermostats,” Blanton said. “That’s also useful during winterization when you need to set thermostats up above freezing.”
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