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Smart home technologies will continue to evolve in 2019

Lennar, KB Homes, Sun West Custom Homes and Growth Luxury Homes are integrating smart new technologies through the Internet to a “cloud” of servers that can facilitate a wide variety of services.

Smart home automation products and systems are now available for every size of home and financial budget. However, consumers should be cautious about allowing just any intelligent device into their private shelter. Homeowners should check to make sure the product is coming from a trusted source, that it can be controlled solely by its owner, and is not vulnerable to an outside intruder or hacker through wireless connections to the Internet.

Lennar Homes

Lennar communities within Summerlin now offer smart home automation as a standard package, including the Oluna development within The Cliffs village and Westcott community within the Stonebridge village.

An Amazon Experience Center has been installed inside Oluna model homes to demonstrate the multiple possibilities available to Lennar customers, who can add smart devices to an Amazon eco-system that can continually upgrade their amenities and lifestyle choices.

“Wi-Fi-certified Lennar homes, that can include Amazon Home Services, will be standard in all new homes built by our company nationwide,” said Joy Broddle, division president of Lennar Las Vegas.

“Wireless access points installed in the home ensure no dead spots for device connectivity. This feature is becoming a must-have requirement for buyers, as basic as the plumbing in a home.”

The Oluna model homes, near Hualapai Way and Sunset Road, have been built with expansive living space that ranges from than 3,290 square feet to 3,800 square feet. Each home includes four bedrooms and 3½ baths. The Nova, Sol, Venus and Terra Next Gen models are priced from $638,990 to $707,990.

A standard smart automation package from Lennar is well-integrated throughout the home by employing a high-speed router and 12-port switch that connect to the Internet. The switch ports channel information from Amazon Web Services back and forth to multiple wireless devices that communicate through protocols like Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Samsung SmartThings and Lutron Smart Bridge Pro. The standard Lennar smart home package includes:

■ Wireless access points that create a mesh network for over 1,000 connected devices.

■ Lutron Caseta smart lighting controls.

■ Honeywell Lyric Round Wi-Fi thermostat can be programmed from a mobile phone for optimum temperatures during the day.

■ Ring Video Doorbell Elite system that integrates a 1080HD video camera system with motion sensors and two-way audio so that a homeowner can answer the doorbell remotely from any location.

■ Baldwin Evolved Smart Lock on the front door does not need to use mechanical keys to unlock a door, but a homeowner’s mobile phone Global Positioning System to sense the proximity of the phone to the door to unlock it automatically.

■ Sonos PLAY:1 music-streaming speakers that can be distributed throughout a home to create a fuller, immersive sound experience.

All these devices can be interconnected together into an integrated ecosystem that can be operated through an Amazon Echo Show video console, equipped with a touchscreen and Amazon Alexa voice recognition system. An Amazon Echo Dot is also included in the package to extend voice-control capabilities to other rooms of the home.

To help a new homeowner navigate their smart device features, Lennar provides a subscription to Amazon Employee Smart Home Support at no additional cost.

Amazon makes it easy to add new smart devices to Lennar homes and receive help from an Amazon expert through a dedicated website at amazon.com/shoplennar.

KB Homes

KB Homes has partnered with Google Home, Nest and DISH Smart Home Services to offer a standard package of smart home automation within new models of its homes in the Landings and Reserves communities at Inspirada in Henderson. These homes are priced from $299,990 to $334,990 and the living space in each model ranges from 1,657 square feet to 2,469 square feet.

The KB Smart Home package includes:

■ Two Google Wi-Fi hubs that create a mesh network to connect wireless devices throughout the home.

■ Voice control and automation by Google Assistant with voice recognition through a Google Home and companion Google Home Mini smart devices.

■ Google App to control devices from home and remotely through Google Chrome and Android eco-systems.

■ Nest Hello Video Smart Doorbell with facial recognition.

■ Nest Advanced Smart Thermostat.

■ Installation and integration of all devices for seamless interconnectivity by DISH Smart Home Services, which provides white glove installation

■ DISH Smart Home Services also offers extended service contracts for expansion of the KB Smart Home system beyond the initial 60-day support period.

“KB Smart Homes have a stable technology foundation that a homeowner can build on,” said Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability at KB Homes. “The three main components of this foundation are: the Wi-Fi mesh network; the artificial intelligence capabilities of Google Assistant for voice recognition and answering questions; and the Nest Hello Video front door security system with facial recognition.”

The Google ecosystem includes connected software platforms like Android and Chrome that can support device integration and allow for some creative combinations. For example, Chromecast can transfer the Nest Hello Video streaming camera images from the front doorbell to a TV video screen in the living room when a visitor arrives, while Google Home Assistant can announce the name of the person at the front door, if the Nest facial recognition software is able to make a match.

Additional smart devices can be purchased for a built-to-order KB Home by working with a personal design consultant through a local KB Home Design Studio.

Additional smart devices are offered by KB Homes as options and cost extra. Some of these options include motorized window shades from Hunter Douglas, lighting controls from Leviton, controllable door locks from Quickset, and smart appliances from Whirlpool.

The personal design consultant at the KB Homes Design Studio can work with the homebuyer to integrate these additional amenities into the final design before close of sale.

DISH Smart Home Services can perform an installation of the smart devices once an internet connection has been established, and will continue to provide ongoing support to a new homeowner for the next 60 days at no cost.

DISH Smart Home Services can also provide additional smart home upgrades and service contracts at a homeowner’s request.

Sun West Custom Homes and The New American Home

Sun West Custom Homes has been commissioned by the National Association of Home Builders to design and construct The New American Home this year for the International Builders Show. This annual trade show will convene at the Las Vegas Convention Center from Feb. 19-21. The New American Home has been built within the Ascaya community in Henderson at 9 Cloud Chaser Blvd. It is priced at $6.5 million.

The Vegas Modern design showcases the latest innovative products from home technology vendors. A Crestron automation system integrates each smart component to orchestrate lighting, HVAC room temperature, air quality, motorized doors and shades, audio/video systems, security cameras sensors, and other smart devices throughout the home.

Some of the wow factors within The New American Home’s five bedrooms and five baths that encompass 8,226 square-feet of living space on 0.54 acres include:

■ Motorized glass pocket doors from Western Windows Systems disappear into the walls of multiple rooms at the touch of a remote control. Each of the five bedrooms open to an outdoor patio space. The pocket doors in the great room are configured to extend indoor kitchen appliances, a fireplace and the living space into secondary outdoor cooking appliances, fireplace and patio space that blend together as one.

■ A 79-inch, thin-screen OLED TV from LG Electronics is suspended on a 14-foot piece of glass and appears to float within the great room.

■ Split air conditioning cassettes from Mitsubishi allow the Crestron automation system to create separate air-conditioned environments within 11 programmable zones of the home.

■ Garage “man cave” that includes cars, billiards table, wet bar, and high-tech Keg refrigerator from Fire Magic.

■ Ladies’ lounge and complete spa with wine bar, massage chairs and exercise gym. A Kohler shower includes multiple shower heads, that can act as sequential body sprayers for a liquid massage experience.

■ Cantilevered bed with steel frame built into the wall of the master bedroom that appears to float and is positioned with a panoramic window view of the Las Vegas Valley.

■ Thermador-smart EnergyStar appliances, including a refrigerator that can self-close and seal itself, if the door is left ajar. Thermador cooking appliances include a steam convection oven and a separate microwave oven with convection settings.

■ A wine refrigerator in the kitchen is partitioned into three chambers with three separate temperature settings. The see-through glass door can display the wine bottles in each partition.

■ Tankless water heaters with re-circulation pump and zone sensors. The re-circulation pump moves the water through a tankless water heater only when the zone sensor detects someone is present in the bath or kitchen areas.

■ Kohler intelligent toilet with proximity sensor can detect nearby body movement that triggers toilet lid to open. A portable remote control touchscreen in the bath integrates toilet seat heating and water usage with music, lighting and other ambient features.

■ Progress Lighting LED lamps and fixtures can be programmed for different effects during the day and night through the Crestron automation system.

“Lighting systems are exploding right now,” said Kevin Peltier, president of HP Media Group, who has designed and built many of the integrated technology features for Sun West Custom Homes. “We can now replicate what is happening with the sun inside the home,” Peltier added.

During the morning, bedroom and kitchen lights can emit a warm, amber hue that mimic the rising sun. In mid-morning and afternoon, the same lights can change emissions to more bright, white light. As the sun sets, the lighting system can return to a warm, amber hue reminiscent of sunset.

“I see progress and increased demand by my customers for voice-recognition systems in homes as the accuracy continues to improve, from products like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and other providers,” Peltier said. “We’re not there yet, but when voice interaction becomes more conversational, I think we’ll see many more people adopting this technology.”

A recent study by Business Insider Intelligence revealed that Google Home Assistant may have a technology advantage over Amazon Alexa in terms of the quality of voice recognition and the capability to answer questions, but the Amazon voice support eco-system may be better integrated with a larger variety of Alexa skills and voice apps available.

At this time, only 5 percent of Amazon consumers own an Echo, compared to 51 percent of consumers who have a subscription to Amazon Prime, according to a study by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can recognize and respond separately to several different voices within the same family home.

Voice recognition could become even more helpful for elderly seniors who want to continue to age in place within their familiar dwelling place. The ability to interact with smart devices in their living space by voice could enable senior residents to continue to control and access multiple appliances, medical products and tools necessary for daily living, as their vision, mobility and memory abilities begin to fade.

“Building sustainability into a home used to be about saving resources and money,” Atalla noted. “KB Homes has been on this journey for over 11 years. Now, sustainability can also include new frontiers like health and wellness.”

Growth Luxury Homes

Growth Luxury Homes has partnered with Tesla Inc. to develop two projects that will showcase intelligent, elegant, automated and eco-friendly homes within an integrated smart community.

The first GLH Independent Southern Highlands Lifestyle Community will be built to standards outlined by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Challenge Homes program. Challenge Homes are Zero Energy Ready, producing as much energy as their residents consume.

Ten luxury homes are being built at Shadow Canyon Estates, within the double-gated “Augusta” community of Southern Highlands in Las Vegas. A Tesla electric car will be provided with each home as a standard feature, along with a photovoltaic solar panel system, Tesla Powerwalls for battery storage of electricity that can be used during the night, and a Tesla charging station for the electric car.

The first luxury estate at 27 Shadow Canyon Court in Southern Highlands is a Mediterranean design, built on a lot size of 0.74 acres. The amenities includes six bedrooms and 5.75 baths within 9,825 square feet of living space. A six-car garage houses the integrated Tesla Power System and a Tesla electric car. The home is listed with Robert Barnhart of Luxurious Real Estate at a price of $5.5 million.

The second project that GLH is developing with Tesla Inc. will include 59 luxury homes built on a hillside encompassing 42 acres in Henderson. Initially called The Hills. the location of the community will be near MacDonald Highlands and Horizon Ridge Parkway. Living space within each home will range from 3,800 square feet to 7,500 square feet and pricing will begin at $1.8 million. The cost of each home will also include a Tesla electric car as a standard amenity.

The Hills will be built to the U.S. DOE Challenge Home standards that will include solar and energy storage systems, with a goal to exceed Zero Energy Ready design and construction, so that each home within the community will be a “net-positive” energy generator.

“The total cost of ownership of a positive energy home should add value,” said Steve Escalante, vice president of business development for Growth Holdings and Growth Luxury Homes.

Net energy-producing homes within an energy-independent community could change the way appraisals are calculated and how loan applications are determined between potential lenders and homebuyers.

Wireless smart devices can knit together The Hills community by using technologies being developed for smart cities applications.

These could include communitywide security camera systems with facial recognition, smart LED lighting, sensors for monitoring traffic and weather conditions, intelligent landscape irrigation systems, as well as additional photovoltaic solar systems and battery storage systems that can provide power to building spaces and public electric car charging stations shared by the community.

GLH is also considering a larger sustainable community vision that could include edible landscaping and community gardens to produce fresh, locally grown agriculture like microgreens.

An autonomous electric shuttle bus system could carry passengers within community streets and interact with Henderson public transit systems outside the gates of The Hills.

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