KB Home rolls out Apple-compatible smart home features

KB Home rolls out Apple-compatible smart home features

SAN JOSE — Silicon Valley home buyers who want not only a new place but a smart one can now get a house that’s pre-configured to be controlled by their Apple devices.

KB Home on Friday is planning to announce that it’s offering a package of home automation features designed to be controlled by iPhones and iPads as an option on houses in two of its new neighborhoods, one in San Jose and the other in Fremont. The move marks the first time nationwide the home builder has offered buyers such an option.

Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability initiatives at KB, compared the home industry to the car business. In recent years, the number of advanced technological features included in cars — from large touch-screen displays to automatic braking — has rapidly increased. Consumers are starting to expect such advanced technological features in all the products they buy, Atalla said.

“We are focused on innovation,” he said. “It’s important to people’s lifestyles.”

The basic option package, which will cost around $4,000, includes an automatic door lock, a smart thermostat and lights and a fan that can be remote controlled. Users can add other devices to the system either when they design their homes or after moving in.

The package will also come with an iPad to control the home automation system inside the house and an Apple TV that will allow homeowners to interact with their smart home devices remotely. KB will offer complimentary concierge service to help homeowners set up their systems.

Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability initiatives at KB Home, views the "scenes" he can use inside Apple's Home app to control the various smart home devices inside a model home in the company's Promenade development on Communications Hill in San Jose. The company is now offering packages of smart home features that are designed to work with Apple iPhones and iPads for houses in that neighborhood and in a development in Fremont. (Troy Wolverton/Mercury News)Atalla views the “scenes” he can use inside Apple’s Home app to control the various smart home devices inside the model home in the company’s Promenade development on Communications Hill. 

Homeowners will interact with the smart home devices using the Home app, a new feature built into iOS 10, the latest version of the operating system underlying iPhones and iPads. The Home app not only allows users to control individual devices — dimming a particular light bulb or closing an automatic shade partway — it allows users to create “scenes” that can control multiple devices at once.

The Home app also enables users to control their smart home devices using Siri, Apple’s voice controlled intelligent assistant that’s built into iOS. For example, if a homeowner told Siri, “I’m home,” it might turn on the lights in the living room, open the shades and turn on the air conditioner all at once.

KB has been offering home automation products as an option in its houses for about 10 years, Atalla said. But it wasn’t an ideal situation, because homeowners typically had to use a different app for each one of the different smart home products in their houses.

What makes Apple’s Home app and HomeKit environment exciting to KB Home is that it allows consumers to access all those devices in one place and interact with many at one time, he said.

“This is what we were waiting for,” he said.

An Apple representative declined to comment.

Many of the smart home products KB is offering as part of its options package are compatible with other home automation systems and devices, like Android smartphones and Amazon’s Echo smart speaker, Atalla said. But for now, KB is only offering to customize the smart home features for Apple devices.

KB will be offering the packages as options in its Promenade at Communications Hill development in San Jose and its Magnolia at Patterson Ranch neighborhood in Fremont. The company has set up a model home in its San Jose development to showcase the smart home features.

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Published at Fri, 18 Nov 2016 15:45:23 +0000