The relationship between builders and smart home technology has been an ongoing trial - a tug-of-war between consumer experience and what they are willing to pay, the developer's objectives, and the difficulty getting the solutions into the design process.
Now, there are even more factors to consider, and that might mean big opportunities for developers, property managers and tech providers, as this article from Forbes discusses.
Ideally, future systems should be collectively controlled by a singular app, talking to each other and working in tandem to create the perfect home environment. When the home owner unlocks the front door, the security unarms, lighting changes, the music turns on and the shades lift. Wearable devices are also on the horizon and can change the experience to be more personalized, especially when it comes to health, and may be able to limit or reduce the challenges that consumers have had so far with voice control.
“Building security management and access control is our number one priority,” says Bill Greene, vice president of design management at JPI, a privately held real estate investor with more than 342 projects and 100,000 units. “Smart home technology specifically in our residential units is running a close second.”
His process is intricate. JPI works with low voltage consultants and subcontractors to help design and price systems for its projects, relying on them for the latest technology at the design phase, which changes rapidly enough that it could be outdated by the time the product is installed. To keep pace, Greene has to constantly update the scope during the design and construction process.
“Consumer demand is high, but smart technology is not yet a required amenity from our prospects,” said Karren Hollinger, vice president of corporate initiatives at national multifamily developer and manager AvalonBay. “It’s starting to be more of a requirement, especially on locks.”
Hollinger says that AvalonBay’s approach to adding technology is very judicious and risk averse, sticking to only institutional solutions with maturity and success in single family or other markets.
Even while locks are one of the most popular smart home features, they are the riskiest in terms of security and liability. With smart locks, there is a data trail. One of the features of locks that AvalonBay is discovering is the growing desire for multiple third parties to access an apartment for dog walking, cleaning, or food delivery. This push of consumer demand could pull design forward with smarter and more customizable technologies.