Source: Lennar
Source: Lennar

Three big hurdles have stood up to now as obstacles preventing new homes from becoming adaptive, responsive homes, using internet of everything technologies, not only to automate but to transform how people can choose to live in their homes.

Those three obstacles are daunting:

  • Data security risk
  • Lack of accountability ensuring integrated systems perform as promised
  • Near-term obsolescence, due to inability to future-proof systems

While it would be foolish to suggest one can suddenly fairly use the term "smart" next to the term "home," it looks like real progress is being made as builders partner earlier and earlier with tech providers to deliver integrated, hack-proof, customer-centric packages that connect room air comfort, home security, lighting and window blinds, appliances, and entertainment to a single voice recognition device or phone.

An article that appeared in this weekend's Los Angeles Times, by Jack Flemming, reports, "As smart homes become smarter, tech companies rush to get in the door."

Flemming calls attention to two builders who've pushed to the front of the pack to engineer and build homes with wi-fi-enabled connected features as standard, Brookfield Homes and Lennar.

Flemming notes:

Each of the 66 homes in the Playa Vista development called the Collection comes with HomeKit built in, letting residents use an app to control the home or ask Siri to do it for them.

The partnership represents a new type of alliance and a vision for the future, with builders thinking of homes as not unlike smartphones.

“This is exciting now, but pretty soon, smart homes will be standard,” said Adrian Foley, chief operating officer of Brookfield. “To stay ahead of the competition, we’re going to keep layering on new technology.”

Brookfield worked with Apple for about 15 months to integrate HomeKit with the home builder’s specifications and chose the tech giant over others because of its commitment to privacy.

Lennar's Wi-Fi Certified program level-sets the nation's No. 2 ranked home builder's "Everything's Included" strategy at a new level, and one that can keep growing smarter.

Lennar's point person on the Wi-Fi Certified program was David J. Kaiserman, president, Lennar Ventures, an innovation and collaboration incubator that brought multiple players together--Ruckus Wi-Fi, Amazon Echo, Samsung SmartThings and other smart home brands like Ring, Spectrum Brands' Baldwin locks, Honeywell, Lutron and Sonos--as part of the "Everything's Included" value proposition.

Key to the performance of each interoperable feature, the Ruckus Wi-Fi enterprise system ensures full wi-fi coverage without structured wiring. Kaiserman told CE Pro's Lisa Montgomery:

“There is a lot of science that goes into integrating a strong, reliable Wi-Fi network into a home,” says Kaiserman. “You need to consider not only where the components of the system will be placed, but the construction materials and structure of the home.”

Lennar's "Everything's Included" position is a differentiator at a time home builders are crowded into an increasingly consolidated, finite ranking of top 25 or so new-home markets nationwide. This past July, Lennar announced that it's rolled out its Wi-Fi Certified Homes in 12 communities:

  • Discovery Square in Oak Hill, Virginia
  • Storey Park in Orlando, Florida;
  • Waterside at the Catawba in Charlotte, North Carolina;
  • Hidden Cove and Avery Pointe in Dallas;
  • Mare Island near San Francisco;
  • Olympia Ridge at Southern Highlands in Las Vegas;
  • The Enclave at Blackstone in Sacramento, California;
  • Obsidian at Parasol Park in Irvine, California;
  • Woodridge Glen, Harbor View Heights and North Creek Ridge in Seattle; and
  • Leyden Rock near Denver.

The interesting thing will be to see what comes next among the bigger home builders. All of them have been exploring options, but many hesitate to install fully-integrated IoT systems into new homes for fear that those features would put off potential customers who prefer to choose their own brand of home tech services.

Now, the gloves are off, and Lennar has set the bar high for other companies to both decide what they want to offer home buyers, and then do the engineering it takes to ensure fully-functioning interoperability and high performance as a standard feature.

Others can only follow.