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Smart Home Technology Offers More Options for Multifamily


As expected, the latest smart home technology beamed at January’s 2018 National Association of Home Builders International Builders Show in Orlando. A wealth of home connectivity gizmos promised the latest in creature comforts as home living continues to drive into the next century, whether applied under one roof in the suburbs or in an apartment community – more personal.

In addition, the show provided some behind-the-scenes building products aimed at improving efficiencies in a challenging construction market.

Kohler Konnect, Alexa pair for personal bath, kitchen experiences

One of the most impressive technology showings was in Kohler’s elegant booth under cascading waterfalls where talking to showerheads, vanity mirrors, toilets and faucets is about to be commonplace.

The 144-year-old company is taking smart bathroom and kitchen technology to a new level with the unveiling of prototypes of its new Kohler Konnect app that combines touch control and voice activation to personalize routine bathroom and kitchen experiences. The app, which will be rolled out this spring, works with Amazon’s Alexa but plans are to integrate with Apple’s HomeKit and Google Home.

Kohler Konnect interfaces with the company’s Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror, which enables users to dim or brighten the mirror’s lights, listen to bass-rich music and even hear a joke from Alexa while getting ready for work. When the lights go off, a motion-activated night light guides the way to the kitchen or living room.

The app also transforms Kohler’s DTV+ shower into a personal cleansing station like none before. With preprogramming, users can ask for the perfect amount of water and temperature and Alexa obeys. Tell her you want to lightly rinse off after a workout and she’ll know how much water to disperse for the right amount of time.  Kohler Konnect also measures water usage and duration.

Elsewhere in the bathroom, the app pairs with Kohler’s Numi intelligent toilet for a personal cleansing bidet experience.

Kohler Konnect also assists with the cooking through its measuring capabilities. Paired with the Sensate Faucet, the app will dispense water in ounces, cups, gallons, etc., upon command.

Samsung brings the family together through refrigeration technology

Samsung is rethinking refrigerators far beyond just keeping the milk chilled and food fresh.

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., which hasn’t been an exhibitor at the show for the past seven years, made a splash with a bountiful helping of its advanced built-in appliances, including the Samsung Chef Collection.

On display was the company’s latest Family Hub refrigerator and the FlexWash and QuickDrive washing machines. All models have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities for full connected control in a smart home.

The Family Hub line is loaded with smart features that, as one Samsung representative said, returns to refrigerator to family’s center. The long, vertical display has just about everything but the kitchen sink on it: a meal planner, grocery shopping cart, digital coupons and remote control camera to check on just how much catsup is left in the bottle. The fridge links to other Samsung appliances, offering finger-touch control of on-off functions and other settings for ovens, stoves and others.

A unique feature is a link to doorbell and camera systems. When the doorbell rings, a message and video from the front porch displays on the Family Hub touch screen.

The line debuted about three years ago and is constantly being updated. Previous models run about $3,400.

Small home automation player links smart features

TiO, a small home automation company based in the Southeast U.S., offers a complete smart home system with a proprietary hub that links common smart home fixtures.

Representatives said the system is flexible and can be used in multifamily settings on a per-unit basis, covering basic smart home functions like turning on lights, opening shades, activating the HVAC system and lighting a pathway from the bedroom to the kitchen for that first cup of coffee in the morning.

Fresh ‘make-up air’ through new Panasonic ventilation system

Panasonic had its new air quality and ventilation system – the SelectCycler – on display. The system provides whole-house ventilation control that’s integrated into the home’s central HVAC system for single-family and multifamily applications.

The system ultimately brings in fresh “make-up air” when the ventilation system is running to enhance air quality and meets ASHRAE 62.2 building codes. The system works in tandem with spot exhaust fans to achieve a hybrid supply or balanced ventilation.

Also on display was the company’s WhisperValue DC designed specifically for multifamily bathroom and laundry room use. The vent system has 4-inch or 6-inch dual duct adapters to enhance installation.

Painting that concrete look

Multifamily builders who want to achieve the wood look using concrete based products have a new paint option with Sherwin-Williams’ Loxon Self-Cleaning Acrylic Coating that’s designed to remove dirt simply upon rain or water contact.

According to a company spokesman, the paint is an alternative to traditional paints that may require more frequent repainting, and as a result, more money. The tight surface finish provides a coating for easy cleaning from rainwater or water from the garden hose.

Smart home technology in multifamily

With all the new smart home technology products coming to market, it would be wise for community managers to consider its potential benefits. Offering such features could very well be the cherry on top to sway residents to sign at one community over another. Resident Technology Services can help property managers determine which lifestyle amenities and Internet of Things could best compliment their property.

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