There’s No Place Like Home: How New Tech Is Reinventing the Smart House
Homes are becoming a lot “smarter” as designs and new product technology evolves. Developers, homebuilders and homebuyers seek to create easy and convenient living and make homes more secure, sustainable and now healthier in the wake of COVID-19. Around the world, we are seeing a desire for an elevated experience in the home that new technology affords, and one that is also mindful of the environment and the footprint left behind. Technology is moving us forward in all walks of life, and the same can be said for living around the world. From Canada to the United States and the Caribbean, here is how technology is changing the places we call home.
Zamani Homes, one of Canada’s leading home builders, is on the forefront of creating homes with health in mind. One of their latest designs, which just came to market in Oakville, Ontario, includes a mudroom with an ultraviolet closet made for disinfecting outdoor clothing. The closet at 160 Pinehurst Drive is just one of many examples of the technology that homebuilders, like Zamani, were incorporating into their designs pre-COVID, but now builders say that these types of health-focused additions will be non-negotiable must-haves for home-seekers for years to come.
“In recent years, homebuyers have been wanting bigger and better amenity spaces with state-of-the-art tech for home theaters, gyms and more,” says Bob Zamani of Zamani Homes. “Due to COVID-19, we know that homeowners will have a new set of wants and needs moving forward, and we will be able to start incorporating new technology and spaces in the home to keep our homeowners healthy.”
Peter Torkan, who is listing 160 Pinehurst Drive alongside Steve Bailey, agrees that buyers are seeking the latest technology and design to ensure their health at home. Torkan says that some more tech innovations we can expect to see in homes will include touchless entry and advanced air-filtration systems. For new condo buildings, he says, the focus will be on minimizing shared amenity space and transitioning to private spaces, balconies for all units, larger lobby and mailroom areas and dedicated space for home offices.
Smart home technology has allowed homeowners an increased peace of mind in reference to possible intrusion and within the home itself. Biometric technologies, including fingerprint locks and facial-recognition systems, are no longer just for our phones and movie superheroes. They are now incorporated into new home systems, creating more secure entry points and allowing homeowners to have rooms with limited accessibility to safely store potentially dangerous items.
Fellow Agency agent Jon Grauman and I are listing a home in Beverly Hills for $19.999 million that certainly has a “James Bond-style.” Aside from its sleek design, amazing car garage and sweeping views over Los Angeles, this home provides the ultimate in security with its biometric fingerprint entry. Simply pressing your finger on a discrete entry pad will activate an LED-illuminated handle that emerges from the flat surface to grant the right people entry.
“When searching for a home at this price point, advanced security systems are always something that is of paramount importance to the buyer,” Grauman says. “The fingerprint entry at Shadow Hill adds an additional layer of security paired with its gated entry and automated home system.”
Additional entry points into and inside of homes utilizing facial recognition—similar to the technology used in the latest iPhones—is emerging on the market, and we are seeing new, high-end homes being delivered with this amenity, as well as homes upgraded to accommodate its inclusion. I expect this technology to be incorporated into more and more homes, especially as it is easy to program new users and delete unwanted guests in just a few moments.
In Turks and Caicos, developer Latitude 22 is so dedicated to creating sustainable living through new technology they are including an electric charging vehicle as a part of the home purchase. The recently launched Karaya Blue—a boutique collection of six luxurious, eco-conscious villas—is just steps from world-famous Long Bay Beach, but residents will be able to thoughtfully zip around the island in their Polaris GEM e4 or they can choose to upgrade to a Tesla Model 3.
Each Karaya Blue villa will include an advanced water catchment and recycling system, as well as a fully integrated solar electrical system custom designed by RENU energy TCI, featuring solar panels for power generation and a Tesla Powerwall energy storage package, including a home vehicle charger.
“Turks and Caicos is a tremendously beautiful place with a unique ecosystem and environment,” says Sean O’Neill, managing director of The Agency Turks & Caicos, who is representing the property. “Latitude 22 is pioneering sustainable development on the island and believes it is important that developers continue to bring new technology to our shores, so we can live a little greener and ensure the longevity of our beautiful paradise.”
In addition to new technology that will allow for a sustainable way of life at Karaya Blue, careful design will allow the villas to remain cool and welcoming both day and night—with abundant shade provided by the broad cantilevered roof, ceiling and wall insulation, carefully located clerestory ventilating windows and low-E filtering treatment on all the glass. And to further conserve electricity, all villa lighting is LED, water heaters are point-of-use or on-demand and only Energy Star appliances, ceiling fans and air conditioning units are used.
“Residents and their guests can rest assured that they are leaving as small a footprint as possible at Karaya Blue, thanks to the smart design and the latest innovation and technology,” O’Neill adds.
As we all stay home to stay safe, there has been a tremendous emphasis placed on the place most of us will be spending the majority of our time. Hence, the desire for advanced, streamlined living to make home just that little bit more comfortable.
Zamani explains that these types of additions to a home can be ever-so-simple yet make a world of difference when utilized to their fullest potential. For the Pinehurst home, Zamani says some of the tech-focused mod-cons that are incorporated throughout include heated floors in the basement, main floor, as well as all the bathrooms that are acclimatized via a KNX home automation system that is connected to the Weather Network to predict weather patterns and adjust temperatures accordingly. Additionally controlled in the same fashion are the blinds. Also, to avoid frost build-up and a lot of extra hard work for the homeowner, heated driveways, patios, gutters and downpipes are all controlled based on weather predictions.
While the technology incorporated in the home can save a lot of extra work, there is plenty of fun to be had too. Zamani explains the next-level surround sound music experience includes a fully automated system that features six different zones associated with six different family members with personalized playlists. And of course, you don’t even have to lift a finger (except at the main entrance for the fingerprint reader or on the simple touch light switches throughout), as it’s all voice activated via Alexa Home.
In my 25 years in the real estate business, nothing is more exciting to witness than the evolution of our industry thanks to technology. From how we as agents and brokerages conduct business, to the way our lives are shaped, what we deemed as “futuristic” some years ago, is now a reality. Smart homes will continue to advance as technology evolves alongside the desire for a more safe, secure, healthy and easy lifestyle.