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Smart Homes Creating Safe, Secure & Comfortable Connected Communities

While the connected home continues to be a hot topic, the idea of a connected community is just entering the conversation. These Communities offer homeowners greater access and visibility to their home controls and security systems to provide greater safety, security and comfort. They are poised to tap into the middle ground between two exploding industries, smart homes and smart cities, which are estimated to be worth between $4 trillion and $11 trillion per year by 2025. Serene Homes, a real estate developer in Texas, recently introduced a concept that takes mobile technology and the connected home one step further with the “smart” community. For The Hills of Windridge development, a unique community of 1,200 smart homes in Ft. Worth, Serene worked closely with Honeywell and Premier Electronics to implement home automation and security systems in each of its homes. This includes a built-in Honeywell Tuxedo Touch home controller, an exterior IP camera, one Z-Wave door lock and thermostat, and two Z-Wave light switches. The devices operate together via Honeywell Total Connect Remote Services, which enables wireless control of the features from anywhere using an all-in-one mobile app. The system is made to be as integral to the home as its architectural bones. These smart home technologies allow every homeowner in the development to manage their home’s security, comfort and automation, receive notifications and look-in on their property through their live video cameras – from anywhere, at any time. They can respond to unique events like remotely disarming the security system and unlocking the front door when a child returns home early from school. Or adjust their home’s temperature settings on the way home from vacation. Although not gated, every home in the Serene Homes development has electronic security and video cameras, providing a strong deterrent to crime in the community and potentially helping law enforcement if a home is burglarized.The explosion in connected home systems is largely due to advances in smart-device design and wireless technology. Fast connections and beautiful interfaces are constantly improving to support increasing amounts of complex data – such as video and images – as consumers rely heavily on tablets and smartphones for work, social life, entertainment, and everything in between.“Digital customization is dominating the market overall, and there’s nothing more personal than the home,” said Steve Means, a district manager at Honeywell, which provides the wireless control system, thermostats and other products for the Serene Homes smart homes. “The security industry is joining the virtual one to cater to the customer’s agenda, keeping them informed, aware, and protected at all times.”“Typically, implementing a home automation and security plan is in the homeowner’s hands, which can involve a lot of research, stress, and the cost of buying new equipment or software,” said Arek Meyer, Serene Homes vice president of sales. “The Hills of Windridge will allow residents to effortlessly control home settings using their smartphones from day one.”Serene Homes marks the debut of the next connected wave – highlighting possibilities that reach far beyond the four corners of a single plot. This smart community overcomes the obstacles of the crowded Texas real estate market and provides next-generation value beyond the now-commonplace amenities like hardwood floors, energy efficiency and granite countertops. The Hills of Windridge could be introducing a fascinating new aspect of connectedness – not only among home and mobile technology devices, but also among homeowners in an entire “smart” community. Once a futuristic luxury, more-affordable smart systems are becoming increasingly accessible to the general public, with nationwide customer trends favoring connected home systems.“The original incentive was to provide added worth and entice a wide group of consumers while staying within our budget,” said Meyer. “We needed a cost-effective way to future-proof the development.”In addition to receiving the standard set of technology, each homeowner will receive an educational training session to give them all the know-how they need to utilize their next-level home capabilities. Less-savvy homeowners will know how to connect directly with experts and get comfortable with new technology, and seamless integration of the technology allows Serene Homes to cater to families with particular needs. While it is still early to know the implications of the connected community, the potential is drawing interest from global citizens who may have multiple homes or travel most of the year, tech-savvy homeowners, and families with young children, where safety and visibility are of the utmost importance. “This isn’t a gated community, but with the smart home technology installed in every home, you know it’s a protected one,” said Meyer.