With Apple known to be partnering with various building companies to integrate its HomeKit platform into new houses, one journalist yesterday was invited by KB Home to check out the company's latest HomeKit-enabled development in San Jose, California.
KRON4 tech reporter Gabe Slate's peek inside one of the smart houses demonstrates the extent of the HomeKit integration, which costs $2500 per house and includes a number of HomeKit-enabled smart devices.
Using just their iPad or iPhone, the homeowner is able to control the Kwikset lock on the front door, adjust room temperature via the Ecobee thermostat, adjust the Philips Hue lighting around the house, and lower and raise Lutron shades in the various rooms.
Meanwhile in the living room, the homeowner is able to control the fans in the rooms upstairs using the Siri Remote on an Apple TV, and activate a movie watching mode that dims the lights and brings down the blinds.
KB Home has offered home automation as an option in its houses for about 10 years, but before Apple's entry into the smart home space with HomeKit, homeowners typically had to use a different app for each smart product in the houses.
"In some respects, what KB Home is doing makes sense," said IDC researcher Jonathan Gaw, speaking to The Mercury News. "It's much easier to have some smart home products like light switches installed by a home builder when a house is constructed. Also, rolling the costs for those products into the home mortgage allows home buyers to more easily afford them upfront — and helps builders sell a higher priced home."
The convenience of smart home integration could be a big draw for a new generation of tech-savvy homeowners. Some of KB Home's houses have USB chargers built into the power outlets, for example. However, Gaw warns of the risk of obsolescence hitting a still nascent industry.
"It"s not clear yet exactly what products consumers will really want or use or even what smart home product companies will be around in five or ten years," he said. "Customers may find in six months or a couple years that they don't use the products they have or that they're defunct or no longer supported."
Last week, German pre-fabricated home company WeberHaus announced plans to support HomeKit in its SmartHomes starting in 2017, making it the first homebuilder in Europe to officially support Apple's home automation system.