Rental Tech: The iButler, Smart Home Security, and Elegant Urban design Rental Tech

Some buildings have a concierge; these apartment residents in Sydney get an “iButler”

ButlerPlenty of apartment buildings in Seattle have a concierge desk for tenant convenience. But can your concierge do your grocery shopping, organize a baby-sitter, or wash your car? Residents of  the Avantra building in Sydney will have access to a technology called iButler. Accessible via iPhone or the mounted iPad in the apartment, the app can be used to organize just about any service a tenant could need–and even gives housekeepers and other staff temporary access to the apartment, and charging residents on one convenient monthly bill. Sounds fun–and pricey. Read more.

With the rise of smart homes and apartments, new security risks rise as well

smart home securityWe’ve been hearing a lot of the past few years about how smart homes and apartments will make our lives easier, greener and more efficient. But as with any new technology, the emergence of wifi-accessible, computer-controlled gadgets in the home leads to new possibilities for hacking and other threats from outside. These gadgets were one focus of the annual Black Hat and Def Con computer security conference held last week. Hackers at the conference successfully gained control over smart door locks, power outlets, and even luxury toilets. As these technologies become more widely used, there’s no doubt manufacturers will begin to build in stronger safeguards–look like it’s time to start! Read more.

My, what a beautiful wall socket: Japan re-invents the power outlet

Node Power Outlet, from MetaPhys of JapanIn case you’ve been wondering about the history of the electrical outlet lately, don’t bother–except to become safer, its design really hasn’t changed much over the years, and the design of the two-or three-prong plugs has never been particularly inspiring. But a design firm from Japan hopes to change all that with the introduction of a gorgeous, 360-degree electrical outlet they call the Node. The versatile design means plugs can fit into it at almost any angle, maximizing the socket’s usability. Sadly, there isn’t any third-prong support on the wall plate, which means this design won’t fly in the US–at least for now. But it makes us wonder how long it’ll be before power gets prettier on our apartment walls here in the US! Read more.

High-tech leasing tools making life easier for tenants and leasing agents alike

ID-10067547Remember just a few years ago, when iPads were a leasing-office innovation only a select few apartment communities had gotten ahold of? Fast forward to the present, and tablets are an essential tool in many leasing offices; and it turns out, that’s not the only technology taking hold. A new article from MHN highlights several such innovations, including touch tables and kiosks, which allow potential tenants to shop for apartments in the ways they’re used to even when they’re in the leasing office. The more tenants are able to feel in control, the better–and the ease of pulling up a floorplan or viewing available units even while a leasing agent is assisting other tenants can’t be beat. Read more.

Designers on the new urban lifestyle: Apartments should feature “elegant solutions”

ID-1009923There’s no question that tech gadgets have filled our apartments over the past ten years. As we look to the future of technology in the home, design firms such as Billings Jackson Design have visions of a simplified, more rewarding environment in which to live our urban lifestyles. As designer Duncan Jackson points out, “we are demanding more of the spaces we live in. We live there, work there, feed our friends and passions there.” As such, the firm envisions greater adaptability in our living spaces–elegant and useful rooms that are easily reconfigurable for multiple uses, and “lighting, surfaces and scent that can be adapted to reflect our mood and purpose.” Sounds perfect for apartments in downtown Seattle! Read more.


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