Brookfield Residential homes in the Southern California area, likes those pictured above, will start offering built-in HomeKit infrastructure later this year.
New homebuyers today have many things to choose from: wood floors or tile, granite or stainless steel countertops, central air or window units. But later this year, you’ll be able to decide if you want to make your space a fully Apple-supported smart home, built from the ground up.
Tucked into Apples two-hour-long new product presentation at its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this week was a blink-and-you-missed-it tidbit that hinted largely at where the smart home industry is headed. In fact, three home builders Brookfield Residential, Lennar and KB Home are now committed to building homes later this year that come with built-in Apple HomeKit infrastructure.
HomeKit is Apple’s software framework that smart gadget builders use to make their devices iOS-compatible. For customers, the label means the device (say, a smart light bulb) will work seamlessly with the iPhone and Siri.
For homebuilders, though, HomeKit bestows confidence that a set of devices will work within a specific platform. With that knowledge,rather than the owner adding smart home gadgets such as automated locks, cameras, blinds, thermostats and air quality monitors to a home piece by piece, homebuilders can install the devices before you move in and make sure the infrastructure is equipped to handle them.
The framework is already in place through the product manufacturers, who have included wireless capabilities in their products for years, David Kaiserman, president of Lennar Ventures, which builds homes in 20 states, told Mashable. So we’re closely working with a handful of manufacturers such as Schlage (door locks), Honeywell (security and thermostat) and Lutron (lighting) who have made the decision to have their products also work with HomeKit. By installing smart products as part of our homes during construction, we are making home automation a reality for many who have been intrigued by it but havent been able (or willing) to retrofit on their own.
As more products launch, like motorized shades or cameras, they can be easily added wirelessly to the system, too.
Meanwhile, Brookfield Residential which is launching its HomeKit pilot program later this year in Southern California is especially interested in offering the concept of a quantified home to buyers.
Similar to the concept of the quantified self for people, our automation-ready spaces will measure its overall performance, health [metrics] like air quality and tell you whats being used efficiently (and whats not), with the help of sensors and monitors, said Adrian Foley, COO of Brookfield Residential California.
When buying a home or apartment, owners will be able to select from various packages that support HomeKit products and choose between a hardwired infrastructure or one that is wireless (i.e. one that can run Siri on Wi-Fi communications). Eventually, it’s believed, hotels will be outfitted similarly.
On Monday, Apple took a big leap forward with its smart home strategy by announcing a dedicated master app called Home that will arrive on iOS 10. The hub will serve as a remote control and make it easier for people to manage all of their smart gadgets in one spot, without needing to open up a specific app for each smart item. This was previously the biggest disadvantage of Apple HomeKit, especially when you compare it to the streamlined experience of the Amazon Echo: Although you could use Siri for many interactions, the user experience was still too siloed in individual apps.
The good news, however, is that Apple is making things far more user-friendly for people to control everything in one place. Now, with homebuilders stepping in to take the guesswork out of installation, it could be what the smart home space needs to propel it further into the mainstream.
While living in a fully HomeKit-enabled house certainly sounds like the future, it raises concerns, too. What if youre an iPhone user and say, your spouse uses Android?
What if youre an iPhone user and say, your spouse uses Android?
We wouldnt imagine a home being completely iOS exclusive, Foley said of Brookfields approach. We need to be careful not to limit consumers to just [one] platform and willinstall smart products that are both iOS and Android compatible.”
However, in a HomeKit-designed home, the Android user would may need to access several apps instead of just the singular Home app to individually control each smart product.
But that isn’t the only issue on the roadmap.
Considering the smart home industry is still in its infancy helped along by security cameras and more recently the Echo splurging for a fully connected home may sound too soon. Are we even ready for an “Apple House?”
The market is unaware of some of the conveniences of the smart home and until we are exposed to it, and live with it every day, the true value isnt realized, Foley said. Building technology to advance the health of your home isnt necessarily on the top of everyones list either, but eventually your home will alert you at work if its sprung a leak, someone is walking in your backyard or if the air quality is about to bother your allergies and that will be very powerful.
Planning for the future
Blake Kozak, principal analyst at IHS Technology, believes opting for a HomeKit-equipped home could be a good investment for homeowners looking to eventually turn a profit.
Homes with pre-installed smart home devices will become much more widespread soon for several reasons, said Blake Kozak, principal analyst at IHS Technology. First, builders find that pre-installed smart homes are a selling feature, and many existing homes currently for sale are installing smart home systems to attract buyers. Second, a pre-installed smart home system simplifies things for the end-user because he or she doesnt have to choose or pay out of pocket for the solution. All that is required is to call a service provider to begin services.
“Builders find that pre-installed smart homes are a selling feature, and many existing homes for sale are installing smart home systems to attract buyers.”
Finally, smart devices may become a requirement for new home builds. In many condos and townhomes, there are pre-installed intruder alarm systems, so smart home pre-installs isnt too farfetched.
Kozak believes the pre-installed systems will start small and relatively basic, with some necessary add-on equipment.
In order to have remote connectivity (when outside of the home), an Apple TV is required,” Kozak said. “New home owners would likely need to purchase additional equipment in order to have a full feature set. Smart home device vendors will continue to work more closely with builders, and it could have an impact on the market through additional device purchases.
In other words, the incentive for smart device companies to work with builders is high.
The U.S. smart home market growth has slowed since early adopters are no longer driving demand, Kozak said. As a result, device vendors and service providers must find a way to get the equipment into homes that might not otherwise have smart devices.”
For now, Brookfield is currently building a smart showhome complex to show off what it can offer. If the Southern California pilot goes well, it will look at other U.S. regions for expansion next year. In theory, an Apple HomeKit home could be coming to a neighborhood near you in the not-so-far-off future.
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