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Builders are embracing new tech to unify the smart home experience

Brilliant’s affordable smart home system is making a luxury amenity accessible to more developers and homebuyers

If you’ve ever toured a luxury home, you’re familiar with the server rack room: a glowing closet filled with stacked servers, cables and other bewildering devices. It’s a costly setup, and worse, it’s intimidating. But until recently, the rack room was necessary to power and control a fully integrated smart home, from audio and video systems to smart lighting, security cameras, locks, shades, and more.

But thanks to new tech that meets a consumer demand, the rack room is history. A luxury smart-home experience is now affordable and remarkably uncomplicated.  

“Before we launched Brilliant, home control and automation systems were exclusively designed and built for the top 1 percent homes,” says Aaron Emigh, CEO and co-founder of Brilliant, maker of the most affordable smart-home system on the market today. “These types of systems cost tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars and required custom wiring, often a complete renovation, expensive and specialized equipment, a dedicated server room and lots of ongoing maintenance.”

Emigh — who founded Brilliant with veteran technology entrepreneurs Steven Stanek and Jeremy Hiatt — points out that smart-home technology, once a luxury, has become an expectation for a large number of consumers.

A survey conducted by Coldwell Banker Real Estate found that 44 percent of those hunting for a move-in ready home want smart-home technology to be installed before buying. Unsurprisingly, that number surges to a majority among millennial homebuyers — with 61 percent of younger buyers demanding smart-home tech. 

The survey also found that 57 percent of home shoppers would consider buying an older home if it had been updated with smart-home technology. Another study has shown that by 2022, half of all U.S. homes will have smart-home technology.

“Smart-home technology has been democratized,” Emigh says. “This type of technology is no longer a nice-to-have in home construction, it’s an essential feature just like windows, doors, floor tiles or new kitchen appliances. As consumer demand for smart-home technology continues to explode, homebuyers young and old expect new homes to be smart. In the very near future, the ‘smart home’ will just be your home.” 

Brilliant’s system, he explains, works via an intuitive touch panel that is installed via an existing light switch or outlet box. By using an all-in-one mobile app, it integrates with virtually every smart product on the market — from home audio devices and video intercoms to lighting and door security to Alexa, HomeKit and Google Assistant — so that the home is seamlessly synced and voice-controllable.

Brilliant also allows users to set up custom routines and schedules. “Your life can instantly switch on once you are in close proximity to your home,” Emigh says. “You can also set up themes for different moods, so ‘party time’ might turn on the Sonos, dim the lights and close the shades. Our mission is to make everything in the home work better together, to promote unity and togetherness.”

And now Brilliant has caught the eye of builders. The Silicon Valley-based company is working with over 200 residential developers across the county.

When Pacesetter Homes, one of the nation’s fastest-growing single-family home developers, entered the Dallas-Fort Worth market with plans to develop hundreds of new homes asking $200,000 to $450,000, they knew that smart-home technology would play a crucial role in attracting buyers.

“The industry is always looking for the next big new thing,” says Blake Friesenhahn, vice president of Pacesetter’s Dallas-Fort Worth operation, who first tested Brilliant in his own home. “A decade ago it was energy efficiency, now it’s technology. That’s the next direction that everyone is focusing on. It’s also something pre-owned housing doesn’t offer.”

Last year, Pacesetter made the decision to include Brilliant in all of their new Dallas-Fort Worth homes — 50 of which have already sold. They plan to sell more than 300 homes a year in the area by 2022.  

But it’s not only single-family home developers who are establishing themselves as brand leaders by embracing smart-home tech. Builders are making Brilliant the foundation for entire multifamily properties and communities. They recognize that Brilliant offers a host of operational benefits and cost savings while providing an easy and seamless experience for residents who aren’t always comfortable with technology. For example, Brilliant allows residents to engage with and control their home in a variety of ways, from touchscreens and voice control to an all-in-one home automation. 

Multifamily buildings and their owners are also recognizing that Brilliant’s small footprint within the home caters perfectly to apartment living.   

“In today’s world, creating connected homes that exceed the expectations of residents is a necessity for operators of residential communities and their tenants,” Emigh says. “Simple technology that is intuitive and easy to use becomes the foundation of communities, connecting residents anytime, anywhere, in real time using mobile devices or in-unit touchscreens. Industry leaders understand that this technology is reinforcing their leadership position in the real estate market.”


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