Technology an increasingly popular feature in homes

Technology can make a home more convenient and life easier for those who live there. Many people today want to be able to control functions in their homes from remote locations, monitor security features and maintain schedules with mobile devices. Builders and developers are taking note and incorporating smart technology during construction.

“We’re seeing increased growth and demand,” said Dennis Garayalde, residential product manager in the Miami office of Phunware, a company that creates custom smartphone applications allowing homeowners to access services, manage schedules, make appointments and conduct other activities. “If developers want to stay current, they need smart technology. There’s an app for everything.”

“Buyers really expect it,” said Daniel Sisisky, a spec home builder in Miami Beach. “We put some smart elements into every home that we do.”

Smart technology is not just for luxury homes and condos anymore, either. “It used to be that these things were just available for high-end buildings,” Garayalde said. “But now the technology has become more affordable, especially if they can get it in at the development stage, and mid-range buildings are looking for solutions, too.”

“The technology is better than it was even a few years ago, and it’s more affordable,” Sisisky said.

WHO’S THERE?

Jamie Siminoff was working in his garage when he grew irritated because he couldn’t hear the front doorbell. His exasperation led him to invent a WiFienabled doorbell with one-way video and two-way audio.

The doorbell, marketed by Siminoff ’s company, Santa Monica-based Ring, allows a homeowner to look at his or her smartphone to see who is ringing the bell — even when the homeowner isn’t there. “You can see who’s at your front door and speak to them from halfway across the world,” Siminoff said.

Siminoff, who calls himself Chief Inventor at Ring, considers the doorbell to be a security feature rather than a technological toy. “You can create a presence, because when you speak to someone who’s at the door, there’s no way for them to know whether you’re at home or not,” he said.

PACKAGE CONCIERGE

RKW Residential, a company that manages multi-family buildings, recently introduced a package concierge system that features a secured locker system available 24 hours a day. “Our residents love it because they can pick up packages at their convenience without having to be mindful of office hours or waiting in the event we are already servicing another client,” said Joya Pavesi, vice president of marketing for RKW. “Online ordering and shopping have continued to increase, and pretty much anything you want you can have delivered. Our apartment complexes have had trouble keeping up with storage space and staff checking packages in and out. It’s become a large problem for the multifamily home industry.”

Mail carriers, UPS and FedEx employees have access to the secured locker system just as they would a mailbox. When a package is delivered, a coded notification is sent to the resident on his or her mobile device. The recipient of the package can pick it up whenever he or she wants to, and the code then expires so it can be re-used. “It saves our team a tremendous amount of time,” Pavesi said.

VIRTUAL BUTLER

At Marina Palms Yacht Club and Residences, a two-tower condominium project in North Miami Beach, unit owners have an app that acts as a virtual butler. It provides access to all building and marina services, including watersport equipment rentals, fueling, cleaning and maintenance, and clubroom reservations, all at the touch of ascreen. It also allows unit owners to make dinner reservations at nearby restaurants and view movie times at local theaters.

“Everyone is so reliant on their phones, and they’re used to having all kinds of actions and activities at the tips of their fingers,” said George Helmsetter, a principal in the DevStar Group, developer of Marina Palms. “We wanted our residents to have the same conveniences at Marina Palms. It’s a very effective process. You can arrange for something at any time of the day or night and it will be done the next day.”

At Gale Fort Lauderdale Beach, a 12-story condominium with 129 residences and a boutique hotel, owners will receive an app that allows them to control functions within their units as well as access hotel services. Residents can rent out their units when they’re not living in them, and the app will help manage the rentals.

Both residents and renters at Gale will be able to lock and unlock their doors with an electronic key. ‘We try to be forward-thinking,” said Harvey Hernandez, president of the Newgard Group, developers of Gale. “People sometimes forget their keys, but they don’t forget their phones.”

Although smart technology is a draw for buyers, Sisisky thinks it isn’t a good idea to overdo it or make it too complex. “Right now, people want some smart technology, but they don’t want to be overwhelmed,” he said. “People don’t want to feel stupid in their own homes.”

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