Gilbert apartment complex joins ‘smart home’ movement, but will the trend take off?

GILBERT – The apartments at Vistara at San Tan Village look like many other “luxury” units available in the Valley with its granite countertops and walk-in closets.

But step inside one of the Gilbert complex’s apartments, and you can control the thermostat, turn on the lights, lock the door and blast music with the press of a button.

The 366-unit complex has partnered with Clare Controls to make the apartments “smart.”

The complex is marketing its apartments as the first in Arizona to offer this kind of technology. It’s part of the “smart home” trend the public may recognize through consumer products such as Amazon’s Echo and Wink Hub 2.

Apartment can be controlled by app on phone

In the Vistara at San Tan Village smart apartments, you can control the thermostat, turn on the lights, lock the door and blast music with the press of a button. (Apartment photo courtesy of Mark Taylor Properties. Iphone photo courtesy of Zach Vega via Creative Commons. Photo Illustration by Chelsea Shannon/Cronkite News)

But property manager Tamara Cade said their apartments work through a phone app she claims is safer and more efficient because you can use your finger instead of your voice.

“It’s for everyone, everyday,” she said. “Everyone does business from their phone now. They shop from their phone. Why can’t people use it for their home as well?”

Vistara has been open for more than six months and Cade said they have rented more than half their units. Rents start at $1,000 a month.

Although Cade said they’ve found success with their units, industry experts said they’re still waiting for the smart home market to take off.

John Greenough, a writer for Business Insider, said they believe “the smart home market is stuck in the ‘chasm’ of the technology adoption curve, in which it is struggling to surpass the early-adopter phase and move to the mass-market phase of adoption.”

Several factors have kept consumers away, including high prices and privacy concerns.

Kim Hanson, owner and broker of Turning Point Realty in Scottsdale, Arizona agreed that the demand isn’t so high just yet, but she said she expects it to rise soon enough.

“The people my market specifically caters to are Baby Boomers and Gen X,” she said. “Just the other day, I sold a home to a family in Washington – one of the biggest tech places in the country – and none of that tech stuff even came up. It didn’t matter to them. But for millennials in five years? That’s going to change the game of the market.”

(Video by Farai Bennett/Cronkite News)