News Digest: Apple Homes and Drones, Oh My!

News Digest: Apple Homes and Drones, Oh My!

Soon iPhone users may be able to control their home from anywhere.

Automated Apple Home?

As expected, Apple this week unveiled its home automation intentions. A Home Kit feature will available through Apple’s mobile iOS 8 platform for iPhones and iPads, to allow smartphone control of certified products like garage door openers, lights, thermostats and more. Siri voice-control integration will also be available. Apple’s iOS 8 will be available this fall. Thus far, certified Home Kit products reportedly will be available from partners Haier, LED-lightbulb maker Cree, Kwikset, Schlage, Osram/Sylvania lighting, Honeywell, Philips, Broadcom, Skybell, August (smart locks) and  others. Devices can also be grouped into scenes, so you can say “Siri, Good night,” and have the doors lock, lights turn off, and a security system arm, for example.

It will be interesting to see if Apple can build its own home automation ecosystem—after all, many control systems and connected products in the home already utilize iPhone and iPad apps—and whether those control system and product manufacturers can develop future apps to compete with an Apple home platform. Part of iOS 8 will have a HealthKit feature to take advantage of the interest wearable health care devices.

We also can’t help but wonder what an entire house designed by Apple would look like. Could it have just one button?

Click here for the whole story.


Drones to Make for Unique Real Estate Marketing Tools

Potential homebuyers from afar have a significant disadvantage. They can’t do drive-bys to see if a house is worth checking out. That all changes if drones become the new norm in real estate. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, realtors like Brian Tercero of Keller Williams Realty have been exploring this option for properties they represent—and with great results. The footage from Tercero’s drone is what hooked a buyer for a home that had been on the market for a while. The drone, which cost him $3,000, is about 18 inches in diameter, has four propellers and a GoPro Hero 3 camera mounted on the underside. It’s controlled much like a toy helicopter, with a joystick that moves it from left to right and another that moves it up and down. It can take high-quality photographs and video of areas not visible from the front, such as a home’s solar array and in-ground pool. There’s still the nagging questions of personal privacy from the FAA, but even the agency is estimating that as many as 7,500 may be in use by 2018. Think of what your company’s drone could do for high-volume or custom home sales.

A drone's point of view of a home.

Click here for the complete article. 


Gear Up for Home Solar

If you’re not offering solar on new homes, you should think about it. In the first quarter of 2014, residential solar photovoltaic (PV) installations exceeded commercial installations in the United States for the first time since 2002, according the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research’s Q1 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight report. The U.S. installed 232 megawatts of residential PV, which is up 38 percent over Q1 2013. California is of course Residential solar panelsleading the pack, with more than 55 percent of national installations coming from that state in Q1. That’s about 130 megawatts of PV. Arizona and Hawaii follow that up with about 23 megawatts and 18 megawatts, respectively. Twenty-one of the 30 states GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association tracks grew on an annual basis. The companies project that installations will reach 6.6 GWdc in 2014, a 33 percent increase over 2013. They expect the fastest growth to again come from the residential segment at 61 percent, year-over-year. 

Are you ready for solar now?

To read the U.S. Solar Market Insight report, click here.


An Efficient Urban Wind Turbine?

The Archimedes, a turbine developer in the Netherlands, is claiming to have the most efficient urban wind turbine in its shape and size, and the company will be selling it internationally. The turbine, which is about 5 feet wide, was revealed at the Innovation Dock on the RDM Campus in Rotterdam Tuesday, May 27. Designed like a nautilus shell, the Liam F1 is said to convert no less than 80 percent of the available energy from the wind into power. Most turbines produce about 30 percent. The company claims that because of its spiral, Nautilus-like shape, the turbine can move itself automatically into the optimal wind direction like a wind vane, and quietly operate as it meets minimal resistance. A smaller version is also being introduced. The Liam Pole Mini Urban Wind Turbine is believed to have one-quarter of the energy output of its bigger brother and is half the size. It will be mounted on a Cradle-2-Cradle lantern pole manufactured by Sapa Pole Products. When combined with solar panels, the LED lantern pole will be self-sufficient. The price of this turbine is still (ahem) up in the air.

For the full press release click here. 


One Cool Bed

Don’t want to sell bedding products? You may want to sell this high-tech sleep aid. BedJet announced that it will debut its BedJet bedding comfort system July 27 to 31 at the Las Vegas Market home show. The BedJet is an ultra-rapid and affordable bed cooling, heating and climate control system, providing near instant control for users’ sleep temperature preferences. The BedJet's patent pending DirectConvect air technology is capable of warming the bedding of a king size bed to the feel of a towel just out of the dryer, in 3 minutes. BedJet powered cooling and ventilation instantly disperses accumulated body moisture and heat out from the bed. An optional dual-zone accessory allows couples to enjoy different temperature preferences for each half of the bed by using independent remote controls. The DirectConvect air technology on the BedJet also includes patent pending acoustic dampeners, enabling the system to be quieter than an air conditioner or window fan. Users can adjust their sleep comfort preferences with web-enabled devices via integrated Bluetooth connection. The BedJet software app can even be programmed to wake them up in the morning with a cold blast of air as an alarm. It’s not how I would want to wake up, but to each his or her own (side of the bed).

What do you think? Should homebuilders get in the bedding business? Or maybe you should … sleep on it?

For more information click here. 

About The Author

Kelly Mello is a TecHome Builder Staff Writer, creating timely, investigative articles for its eMagazine and Special Reports. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in English: Communications & Rhetoric. She began her writing career in 2007 as editorial assistant for GateHouse Media. From 2010 to 2013, she was local editor for various Patch sites, including

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