As we wrote in Part 1 of our coverage of the KB Home ProjeKt, this Las Vegas-area concept home endeavors to deliver connected home and holistic design features aimed at the long-term health and wellness of its eventual occupants.
In this segment, we will take a look at more of the connected home, health, water conservation, and energy conservation features of this unique dwelling.
Get Part 1 of This Series
In the first installment of this series, we covered the connected home ecosystem, HVAC control, and smart window coverings.
Google Assistant, Google Home speakers, and the Google Home app form the digital ecosystem for this home. Beyond that, additional accessories throughout were selected to offer compatibility with the Google system to promote seamlessness and operational simplicity.
In the master bath, the Kohler Konnect system with the DTV+ Showering System and Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror extend hands-free voice control to the bathing experience. The command, “Hey Google, Start My Morning Shower” and other Google Assistant voice skills will be available for owners of this system later in 2019. Until then, the Kohler Konnect app can be used to set and control various features, and the Konnect touchscreen in the shower can be used for interactive control.
In the kitchen, smart food preparation takes center stage with the Whirlpool Smart Combination Oven, an integrated stack which includes both a conventional oven and microwave. Fitted with a multi-lingual learning touchscreen, this smart appliance also responds to voice commands from Google Assistant. Multi-step cooking can be set through a smartphone app, and a built-in Steam Clean option can cleanse the inevitable spill-overs that accumulate on the bottom of the oven. And if you are running late, you can command the oven to preheat from the road through the Whirlpool app.
Smart and Healthy Lighting Control
For smart lighting and fan control, the Noon Home system brings intelligent control to wall switches throughout the home. The Noon Room Director switches in each room serve as master controllers of the system and connect wirelessly with other Noon products, including the Extension Switch and On/Off Switch. All of these smart switches install neatly behind Decora-style switch plates.
The Noon Room Director has an OLED touch panel and onboard motion sensor, while the entire system works with Google Assistant voice commands. Among the unique features of the Noon system is its smart capability to detect the types of bulbs installed in various lighting fixtures, which it combines with algorithms to automatically create lighting scenes.
The Noon system also facilitates circadian lighting control by communicating with the home’s DARWIN Home Wellness Intelligence Network system. A multi-functional system from Delos, DARWIN also handles air filtration, water purification, and other technologies related to homeowner comfort and convenience. In the case of healthy illumination, the circadian LED lights emulate the properties of natural light to promote sleep quality.
Smart Front Door Security
For the front door, the Kwikset SmartCode 916 smart deadbolt lock was selected, which includes the company’s Home Connect technology. This lock has a capacitative touchscreen keypad for tapping a PIN code, plus a conventional key slot built around the Kwikset SmartKey Security feature set. The physical key can be a valuable asset in the event the lock’s 4 AA batteries are dead, or when it is more convenient to provide a physical key to a pet sitter or caregiver.
This lock can also be integrated with a broader connected home system through its onboard Z-Wave Plus module for remote control and the use of voice commands. However, this type of integration requires the addition of a compatible Z-Wave hub to the home, such as a Samsung SmartThings hub. The Google Home system does not offer native support for Z-Wave devices without such a hub.
Smart Water Conservation
Undetected water leaks can be a major problem in a home, as they can cause significant damage before their presence is known. In the KB Home ProjeKt, the Phyn Plus smart water assistant—which incorporates leak detection and an automated shut-off valve—was installed.
Phyn Plus employs high-definition pressure wave sensing and can alert the homeowner immediately upon detection of a water leak and automatically turn off the water supply. Phyn was created through a joint venture between electronics maker Belkin and plumbing systems manufacturer Uponor.
For the landscape, a Rain Bird ESP-TM2 Irrigation Controller and LNK Wi-Fi Module was installed. Working together, the two components fully automate irrigation and enable on-the-fly adjustments based on the weather to save on water usage. The LNK Wi-Fi Module also enables remote control of the system to prevent trips to the garage or back yard to adjust or program the irrigation controller.
Zero Net Energy and Battery Storage
This all-electric home was designed to be Zero Net Energy (ZNE). Toward that goal, it was fitted with a large rooftop solar photovoltaic array and two Tesla Powerwall 2 battery systems to store excess energy for later usage. In fact, the home was certified as ZNE by virtue of its RESNET HERS rating of 0, meaning the home generates as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year. This will lead to virtually non-existent energy bills over its lifetime.
Furthermore, a Wiser Energy whole-home energy monitor from Square D by Schneider Electric can provide real-time insights into energy usage and home activity through a smartphone app to help. Developed through a partnership with smart energy monitor maker Sense, the system detects and interprets the power usage and activity for all of the devices residing in the home.
Smart and Healthy: The Way Forward?
The KB Home ProjeKt sets a high bar for the future of connected homes, seamlessly integrating a series of smart systems to deliver on health, wellness, convenience, and efficiency. Let’s hope this concept home can spur more architects and builders to collaborate on bringing more of these homes to the mass market at affordable prices.
Tom Kolnowski is the Chief Content Officer & Founder of Digitized House Media, LLC, the publisher of Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home. When he isn’t writing about smart home technology, sustainability, and high-performance architecture, you’ll find him exploring faraway destinations with his family.