It might be called the smart “home” but increasingly “apartments” are adopting automated technology to improve the access, liveability and convenience of strata living for residents.
From power savings to concierge services and better security, the benefits of automation are being embraced by apartment developers and residents alike.
Here’s a quick insight into what smart technology can offer apartments, how automation is being employed, and why smart apartments are a trend set to increase in the coming years.
Driving the smart apartment trend is the convenience it offers.
Security is made easier with features like keyless entry, while the unit can respond to the owner’s preferred living state long before, or even as, they walk in.
Temperature is automated and scenes can be set, allowing apartment living to be intuitive and more energy efficient, as Forbes explains:
“A smart apartment can include remote features for the light switches, all the electrical, all the outlets, the thermostat, for opening and closing doors, door locks, sensors throughout the apartment, motion, temperature, air quality, vibration, air flow and ambient light.
“There’s this whole notion of having access to the value of a smart apartment that they don’t actually have to do anything. Residents just walk in, and it just works.”
They note smart apartments are emerging as a trend where “the basic functions of an apartment, from lights to temperature control to keyless entry, has increased demand and made properties with that technology more attractive and competitive”.
So what sort of features, do smart apartments offer?
One of the prime benefits of smart apartment technology is the access and security the technology affords. Residents can enter the property keylessly and also grant guests access remotely.
For example, the technology can be set up to recognise a resident’s car or smart phone as they approach the apartment block, granting them access to the car park without the need to swipe a card or use a key.
Should a guest or tradesperson visit while the occupant is away, the resident can grant let them into the building and their unit with the tap of a button on their smart phone.
Automated temperature control is another big plus, with the apartment able to activate pre-set temperature settings before or when the resident walks in.
So, the door to the apartment opens, and in response the air-conditioner turns on or the heating activates automatically. When the resident leaves, it automatically turns off.
Just as temperature control can automatically “kick in” when the resident is in attendance so too can lighting, and it can also respond to the time of day or available ambient light using sensors.
Importantly this can also be applied to the general building, reducing the building management tasks and also saving energy.
In the smart home, “scenes” are one of the most desired features available, and it’s no different in the smart apartment. Scenes see a host of smart features work together to remove general tasks from everyday life and improve the liveability of a residence.
And it works like this…A resident enters their apartment, the blinds open, revealing the view, the lights turn on, the television activates or music commences, the heating starts up and the coffee machine warms, welcoming the owner home after a long day at work.
Scenes can be established to suit any routine or time of day, thus making the apartment intuitive. In the morning, for example, the alarm may go off, the blinds open, the radio turns on and the coffee machine begins to warm.
As the resident leaves for the day, turning everything off is as simple as exiting the apartment.
Geofencing takes scenes and intuitive living to a whole new level, as Domain recently noted:
“GEO fencing capability offers another means of getting your home or apartment to respond to your lifestyle needs,” they said.
“Operating at any radius from 100-metres to three-kilometres, it enables designated household systems and appliances to be activated or deactivated depending on your proximity to your home.
“For example, when a smart device is detected leaving the actual home, the home can react in a certain way….
“It can shut off the lights, close the blinds, make sure things are locked. Then as you’re driving back home later in the day, the home will detect your device as you approach and will start to power up again. It can even make you a coffee which will be ready when you arrive.”
Built into automation is the ability to monitor energy and water consumption and that proves attractive not just for residents, but for the building manager as well.
As a result, local governments are taking up the push.
In New South Wales for example, the City of Sydney is leading the charge. Over the next 10 years they plan to work with 20 high-rise buildings a year to implement smart technology in a bid to reduce high-rise running costs and their associated carbon footprint.
Their focus is on reducing water consumption, improving waste management, increasing energy efficiency and reducing running costs through smart, green apartments.
“To date we’ve helped more than 50 buildings in the local area save thousands of dollars each year on running and maintenance costs,” they reflect, citing the following examples:
But it’s not just local government seeking out smart technology to improve apartment living. A suite of recent surveys reveal residents are driving change, as Domain explains:
“The drive to deliver high-tech apartments in Australia is backed by a recent US property industry survey that found 72 per cent of potential buyers aged under 34 years would be willing to pay for smart technology, and that 44 per cent of millennials would rather have an apartment equipped with smart technology than one with a parking space.
“Another survey of particular interest to investors found 86 per cent of renters aged under 35 years, and 65 per cent of baby boomers, would be willing to pay higher rents for a “smart” apartment equipped with automated or remotely controlled devices.”
It’s not just apartment owners that the technology appeals to, as Entrata found in a survey. It’s apartment renters as well, but there are certain products that appeal more than others.
They reported “…the vast majority of residents are willing to increase their monthly rent payment to have more technology in their apartments, including smart home amenities and high-speed internet”.
“While pools and other creative community features have often been seen as the draw for prospective residents, the survey shows that what residents really value upon move-in, and are willing to pay for, are technology add-ons and amenities,” said Chase Harrington, president and chief operating officer.
“Shifting the focus of development, marketing and training efforts to these technologies is going to be key for apartments as residents begin to demand living in a smart, connected environment.”
Key findings of the survey included:
Electronic payments and living in a secure, smart community are more valuable to residents than a pool or covered parking. Residents’ top amenities they would be willing to pay more each month for are:
Meanwhile, back in Australia, Domain noted: “Projects that give residents instant access to services and unprecedented power over the way their apartment functions by simply tapping on a smart phone are attracting owner-occupiers, as well as investors who want to ensure their asset continues to entice tenants”.
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