When Chinese developer Fosun Property began planning an enormous new project near the junctions of the Han and Yangtze Rivers in Wuhan, one thing was certain: this new development would be smart. Very smart. Anyone who moves into one of the Bund Fosun Center’s 592 luxury apartments — set amid one million square meters of shops, offices, hotels, and cultural facilities — will benefit from cutting-edge smart home features designed to make their lives simpler, safer, healthier, and more comfortable.
“We’ve introduced smart voice-controlled butlers, and we’ve got a full set of KOHLER Konnect™ products in the bathroom,” says Bao Wenfang, a member of the design team. As they step into the bathroom, residents can turn on the lights, start running a bath, and switch on the heater, all without touching a thing. “Compared to a single smart product experience, a full set of smart products can better meet the users’ needs in real-life scenarios,” says Bao. “It creates an interactive, warm, and smart space.”
These new homes in Wuhan are far from the only ones incorporating the latest smart home technology. All around the world, smart home systems are becoming increasingly common. “With lower costs and easier assembly, today developing a new project without home automation seems somewhat absurd,” writes Chilean architect José Tomás Franco in an article for ArchDaily. They aren’t just about convenience: they save energy, detect maintenance issues before they become a problem, and make life easier for the elderly and people with different abilities.
“It really comes down to the value that the product is delivering to the consumer,” says Shane Allis, Kohler Co.’s Business Director of Smart Home Solutions. “That value can be as simple as making everyday tasks easier, making a task or an environment safer, or delivering a delightful experience.”
Smart home systems can make an especially big difference in the kitchen and bathroom, two of the areas where people spend the most time at home. There are luxurious perks like the KOHLER® Moxie™ showerhead, which incorporates a high-quality Harmon Kardon speaker that makes shower singalongs as pleasurable as possible. Then there are features geared towards safety and wellbeing, like the Aquifer Refine™ under-sink water purification system, and provides updates about water usage and filter life. Smart home devices can also help mitigate the time cost of housework; many smart toilets don’t just offer heated seats and bidets, they are self-cleaning, too.
As Franco notes in his essay, a true smart home depends on integration. “It must function as a system that facilitates processes, without unnecessarily complicating the user's life,” he writes. With a simple voice command or the swipe of a finger across a touch-screen control panel, you can change a room’s temperature, the color or intensity of the light, and set appliances to work.
The benefits of smart appliances extend beyond the immediate home environment. The Bund Fosun Center includes a “smart community management platform,” Bao explains, with security robots that patrol around the clock, automated “angel’s eyes” to keep children safe in the playground, real-time remote monitoring of each apartment’s front door, and gas detection to alert if a knob has been left on in the kitchen.
With people spending more time at home than ever because of the pandemic — and likely well after it, as working from home remains common even after restrictions are lifted — smart home systems seem set to become essential to our lifestyles. “I believe that the value of time will be more important than ever and smart products that simplify or eliminate mundane tasks, allowing consumers to spend more of their time taking care of themselves or loved ones, will grow,” says Allis. “The continued trend around overall wellness in the home and products that make the home safer and healthier will continue to gain momentum.”
That certainly seems to be the case in Wuhan. “The houses in the first phase of Fosun are nearly sold out,” Bao says, adding that smart homes are quickly becoming an entrenched part of new-build housing — at least at the higher end of the market — as people look for “full-scene, personalized, and intelligent living spaces.” In other words, buyers are looking to make a smart choice.