Dawn of the smart home era

Dawn of the smart home era

As the demand for tech-friendly homes increases, developers are pushing the boundaries to include smart home features in buildings, says Prashanth G N.

Building automation isn’t a new concept, but its application in Bangalore homes is fairly recent. This concept is about making buildings, offices and homes intelligent — equipped with technology — where one can monitor and secure the home or office, all at the touch of a pad or phone.

Automation for homes or smart homes have taken off well in the last two years with a tech-savvy population wanting tech-driven homes in the technology capital of the country. The demand for smart homes is certainly a niche market, one that seems to be performing alright.

Sanjay Raj, CEO, Prisha Properties, says the concept of smart homes entered the Bangalore market during the end of 2011 and early 2012, and has since then evolved tremendously. “This city presents an exceptional pool of real estate customers who are passionate about technology and would like to translate this passion into their homes. Considering this current scenario, the demand for smart homes is growing at a rate of about 60 per cent.”

Snehal Mantri, Director of Marketing, Mantri Developers, too, says the demand for smart home properties has seen a substantial increase owing to new trends and aspirations of home buyers.

Cost matters

Taking into consideration both completed and upcoming projects, Bangalore houses about 10 per cent smart homes in the total property market. This percentage, Raj opines, will rise and some smart home features may be made mandatory by the government. Echoing this sentiment, Sanjay Agarwal, Chief Marketing Officer, Salarpuria Sattva, adds that about 10 per cent of Indians are exposed to technology and this 10 per cent of the population would be willing to buy smart homes.

“The market for smart homes is expanding quickly and a time will come when every home will be a smart home. For now, however, we are still in the stage where people are getting exposed to such new conveniences. Buyers and builders are still in the experimental stage.

In Bangalore, about 10 to 15 per cent of the projects have been completed, while 25 to 40 per cent are in the pipeline.” The cost of a smart home largely depends on the accessories home owners choose to incorporate. This could range from lighting control and regulation systems, automatic curtain control functions, security and fault monitoring, operations, indication and visualisation, remote access and control to central automation, etc. Apartments with such accessories cost anywhere from Rs 1.5 to 4 crore, according to Raj.

Mantri offers two options in its smart homes — pay for select services or complete services. “Home buyers are given an option to choose between gold, silver and platinum categories. This gives customers greater flexibility and systems are upgradable as customers can upgrade from silver to platinum categories. At Mantri’s Signature Villas, a select set of villas have smart home features. The basic rate begins from Rs 415 per square feet,” says Mantri.

Agarwal says the cost of building and developing a smart home is invariably higher than conventional operational cost of construction. “As the concepts and features are more technology-oriented, the investment on technology is on the higher side. Considering the present market scenario, an apartment with standard smart home features will range between Rs 2 crore and Rs 6 crore.”

The technologies that come with a smart home are varied and differ according to each developer.

But in general, most developers offer intelligent fire safety systems, gas leakage detectors, motorised curtains, remote controlled lighting, video phone, automated alarms, remote monitoring of homes via Internet and adjustment of heating/cooling, wireless door locks and video door stations for security.

They also provide touch screen panel on the wall with IP control lights, entertainment via audio-video integration, access to phone and Internet from any location, bathrooms lighting upon one’s arrival, the boom barrier at the apartment’s entrance opening automatically, sensing the presence of a car, a soft panic button for the elderly in case of an emergency, and many more facilities.

Mantri puts smart homes in perspective: “Smart houses are created by interconnecting, configuring and computer controlling elements such as lighting, heating and cooling systems, security systems, and entertainment systems including whole house audio and video, and the Internet.

“Technology solutions such as integrated data and voice, and wireless services, fibre-to-the-home, digital signage, common area IP video surveillance and energy management systems will transform each residence into a state-of-the-art home, fulfilling the increasing need for security, energy conservation, enhanced productivity and digital lifestyle.”

In ongoing projects, Prisha has one project underway, the Hanging Garden, opposite Manyata Tech Park, Hebbal. Salarpuria has luxury projects like Magnificia on Old Madras Road and Luxuria in Malleswaram. Mantri has Mantri Espana, Mantri Signature Villa and Mantri DSK Pinnacle. Sobha Developers has the Sobha Habitech in Whitefield equipped with a patented smart home automation technology.

Most smart homes are developing in North and South-East Bangalore. Says Raj: “North Bangalore has developed as a key market for smart home projects with a majority of builders concentrating on areas like Hebbal, Yelahanka and Devanahalli, and, in South and East Bangalore, (areas) like Sarjapur Road, Whitefield and Varthur Road.”

At the press of a button

ABB, which is among the well-known names in smart technologies, offers the i-bus smart home systems.

Raimondo Salandra of ABB, India, tells Deccan Herald: “Convenience is one of the biggest reasons that people build and purchase smart homes. ABB i-bus smart home systems offer enhanced energy-efficiency, for example, lights can shut off automatically when no one is in a room, the thermostat can be set to ‘let the indoor temperature drop’, during the day, before returning it to a more ‘comfortable level’, just before residents walk in.

All of these automated tasks, along with modern, energy-efficient appliances, combine to save electricity, water and natural gas, thereby reducing the strain on resources. One can operate smart homes using an iPad/iPhone or a touch panel.

“An app which would interface with one of our products such as Comfort Touch allows the iPhone, iPad or any android device to communicate with smart home devices. These devices include wall switches and dimmers, plug-in lamp and appliance controllers, thermostats and more.

No one buys a dream home every day, so when they decide to build... they make sure it is loaded with all features. It is definitely a huge selling point, not only for end users, but also for developers who are tying up with various smart home product manufacturers.”

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