Alexa, Tell Me About Smart Home Technology
Smart technology is everywhere now: From Alexa to Nest to Google Home, we almost expect our homes to run themselves these days. In the age of technology, there is hardly any part of our lives that remains untouched by gadgets. Beyond convenience (and for second home-owners, a reliable indicator that your second home is actually still standing), smart home technology can increase resale value and increase appeal to prospective buyers. A recent CNET-Coldwell Banker poll found that 81% of respondents would be more likely to buy a home that had smart technology pre-installed, and 66% of homeowners are willing to leave their smart technology behind for buyers if it meant their house would sell faster.
Beyond what it means for stand-alone homes, buildings throughout New York City are incorporating these improvements and upping their amenities to entice renters and buyers. Take a look at some of the most interesting and black mirror-esque technologies we’ve seen offered, as well as items that you can incorporate into your own home. So, Alexa, what are some of the most interesting smart home technologies?
Smart Entry and Intercoms
Not necessarily a high-end offering anymore, keyless entry and wireless intercom systems are found in many newly renovated buildings. A popular building entry system is Latch, which connects residents to the building’s front door and their own apartment door through their cell phone and the Latch app. Keyless entry is often paired with wireless video intercom systems, also controlled through cell phone apps, increasing smartphone connectivity to home amenities.
From security cameras to pet-cams that help ensure Fido is not destroying your new rug, monitoring your home remotely is now easier than ever. Having a home security system used to mean signing up for a costly security service like ADP, who would hardwire cameras and other bells and whistles all while charging an ongoing fee. Today, you can easily order a Nest or Ring system and set up cameras in whatever corner of the house you want. Complete with apps and cell phone alerts, you can now keep track of your home security, nanny, or pet right from the palm of your hand. These systems even have facial recognition, so you don’t have to go through the hassle of having your camera mistake you or family members as intruders.
An extremely popular smart improvement is automated and wireless thermostats. One of the most favored products is NEST smart thermostat, which, at only $249, is a great way to make your life more convenient, and even save some money on heating and cooling. NEST allows residents to control their apartment’s temperature though a simple mobile app. From the comfort of your bed you can lower the temperature if you like it colder when you sleep, and you can even raise the temperature before leaving work so it is warm when you arrive home. Better yet, the app will learn your habits, and will automate these temperatures on its own.
Smart lighting falls under two categories — smart overhead lighting and automated curtains. Whether it’s overhead lighting that can be controlled through a remote, an app, or through Amazon Alexa, lighting has become much more advanced (yet much more convenient) than walking over to the light switch and manually controlling your lights. Smart light bulbs often allow for dimming regardless of whether the fixture itself has been wired dimming or not. Besides the optimization of electrical lighting, natural lighting can also be controlled by smart technology; once a luxury seen only in movies, motorized curtains are becoming more and more common, with buildings offering this as a hot-ticket amenity. Even if your building doesn’t offer automated shades, companies like the Shade Store can come and install them for you — I just had these installed in my own house last week, and have to admit there is nothing better than shutting out piercing morning light with the press of a button.
While just taking off, smart appliances have been making headlines for their development and compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Samsung has been at the forefront of smart appliance development, with offerings including smart stovetops, smart washer and dryers, and even smart refrigerators that track groceries, a family calendar, and play music.
Beyond what is offered in apartment units themselves, many buildings are also making an effort to improve their communal amenities as well. Communal spaces themselves have been an up-and-coming trend, but in a real estate market where competition stiffens every day, buildings have tried to further amp up their amenities. Basic things like free wifi and printing services are being offered in most higher-end buildings, along with more advanced amenities such as the TopBrewer app, which allows residents to order beverages on an app before picking them up in the communal lounge (the smart brew tap will prepare the drink, so no need for a barista). The TopBrewer app is featured in Murray Hill’s House39, which also has a transit screen in the lobby that projects real time transportation statuses, as well as Lyft, Uber, Via, and Zipcar updates. Another hi-tech offering increasing in popularity is a smart mail system. Package Concierge is a wall unit with mailboxes that sends residents notifications when a package is delivered. When residents want to retrieve their packages, all they have to do is put their phone to the scanner and the mailbox opens so they can retrieve their package. Not only does this make tracking shipments easier for residents, it also simplifies the mail sorting process for building staff.
While not every building is jumping on the smart home technology bandwagon, there is definitely a growing trend, especially among new developments, to offer increasingly "tech-friendly" amenities. Even if your building doesn't offer any high-tech communal amenities (yet), there are still plenty of items you can purchase and install yourself to incorporate "smart" aspects into your own home.