Watch the first video interview with Walker Hinshaw, CTO of Lumiere, about the design and strategy of the Sterling Ranch Smart Community.
Full Video Transcript: Video Walk-Through of Sterling Ranch Smart Community
Residential Tech Today: Hey everyone, this is Alex Moersen with Residential Tech Today, we’re here in Littleton, Colorado at Sterling Ranch, Colorado’s latest smart home community. We’ll be speaking with Walker Hinshaw, CTO of Lumiere and he’ll be walking us through what goes into developing a smart community. We’ll be touring some homes, checking out some of the smart home tech and just see what this smart neighborhood is all about.
All right well now we are in front of one of the model homes here in the Sterling Ranch community. So we’re gonna check it out, see what these homes are capable of, some of the tech inside and give you an inside scoop. I’ll follow you.
So it looks a dining room area going on here. Oh and here’s the STEWARD we were looking at earlier.
Walker Hinshaw: Yeah, here’s the STEWARD panel on the home. So this is your central command and control center mounted right here on your wall and you can also use this with both your phone, IOS android apps and also actually with voice control devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
RT Today: Okay, so I’m seeing you have your scenes here and it says, “I’m home.” So can you like program that to maybe press “I’m home” and it turns on the lights, like the A/C or what does that look like?
WH: Yeah exactly. So if we actually press this “I’m home” button we can see that scene activate and you can see it’s programmed to turn on those lights right now. You could customize that so maybe you’ve got some music you wanna play when you get home, nice relaxing mood, you can do that. Another thing we have on there programmed in is “I’m leaving.” So if we press that we’ll see the lights in this home turn off, you can hear the door lock over there automatically lock for yeah and then you can also have that arm your security system so that your home is locked down, secure, your lights are off and you’re ready to go.
RT Today: Okay. So of course you’re not tied down to the tablet. I know you were showing earlier some of the Amazon voice stuff, maybe we can try that out too.
WH: Yeah let’s give it a shot. Echo, turn all lights off. So you can turn off all your lights. A great application for that is maybe you’re sitting on the couch ready to watch a movie, you don’t wanna get up and turn around and fix all those lights. You can have custom lighting levels. One of the things you might have seen was these light in here took a little while to actually turn off. That was actually ’cause they’re on dimmers. So the system can also work with dimmable lights and you can set custom dimmable levels with the system as well. So you could have a movie scene that dims your lights to 33 percent so you have nice lighting for your movie.
RT Today: Can you control specific rooms too? Let’s say you’re upstairs and you’re like, “Oh did I turn the kitchen light off?” Can you say, “Echo, please turn the kitchen light off?”
WH: Yeah you can but yeah you can actually customize the names for every device in your home and based on those custom names you can turn them off with your voice or you can just find them in STEWARD panel or your phone and turn ’em off right there.
RT Today: Okay awesome. Let’s check out the basement.
WH: Let’s go check out the basement.
RT Today: As you can see, very high quality stuff here in the model home.
WH: Yeah these model homes are incredible.
RT Today: Is there just one … Does this come with one STEWARD tablet or is there one on like every floor or..?
WH: Yep, just that one STEWARD tablet. Gives you that main window and then the fact that you can just open it up on your phone from anywhere is really where most people get the functionality. You don’t wanna necessarily walk over to the tablet every time you wanna control a light in your home. Having it right on your phone just makes it really convenient.
RT Today: Yeah definitely. So now earlier you were showing us a little bit about the lights. I was wondering if you could break that down again?
WH: Yeah so the devices in our system use primarily z-wave technology. So you see this light, this light is actually a light switch that is communicating via z-wave which is a radio frequency similar to WiFi but on a different signal so that way it doesn’t interfere with internet in people’s homes. What happens when you control your device is it actually, your phone sends a signal back to the central server and then that sends out a signal to the light to actually take the action. So you’re able to communicate with all the devices in your home through that central processor.
RT Today: Oh wow, cool. Any other features down here that we should check out? I know you were talking about some party time.
WH: Yeah let’s give it a shot. Echo, turn on party time.
RT Today: Oh okay. Is that one of the scenes you can set?
RT Today: Like a party scene and it’ll start playing music.
WH: Exactly and oh the dimmable lights finally coming on and I will say just for y’all’s knowledge, some of these dimmers you gotta have dimmable bulbs that work with it and apparently some of these bulbs just aren’t dimmer compatible. So that causes some lag and degree with it popping on and off. You can set your custom scenes. So any of the scenes that you hear us talking about you’re not locked down to those. You can go in there and customize ’em using “if then,” or “if this then that” statements and so I’ve seen a lot of people turn their porch light into a light that turns on at dusk and then turns back off at dawn, things like that. You can automate your lighting if you’re gonna go away and wanted to put your home in vacation mode, you could create a vacation mode. So that certain lights popped on at certain times. You could also as part of that vacation mode automatically arm your security system and then another thing you could do is actually our water meters are hooked up to the system as well. So you could install a flood sensor that will be able to detect if you have a leak and then have that automatically turn off your water meters and water valves so that you don’t have flooding in your basement in your way.
So huge potential upside for some these and I’m sure there’s a bunch of things that I haven’t even thought of that homeowners are already out there running with cool applications in their home.
RT Today: Definitely.
WH: Yeah so really all the devices that come in, come in through those z-wave light switches. So you can see this home, not every light switch is that z-wave light switch like we have at the bottom of the stairs.
RT Today: Yeah.
WH: Home in Sterling Ranch as a part of the base package actually come with just one of those lights as of today but it’s really easy to add additional lights to the system. The really nice thing about the system is you don’t have to tear out drywall in order to add things to the system. It’s a real easy install to get a new z-wave switch in there and start controlling the lights in your home.
RT Today: Okay. So I know you just mentioned, maybe we can walk and talk, you just mentioned the base packages. So I was curious, does each home come outfitted similarly or are there different levels of connectivity you can put into your home and is it easy to maybe incorporate your own tech once you’ve purchased the home?
WH: Yeah, so different builders have different varying levels of what you can put in the home. The base package that every builder has here at Sterling Ranch includes one connected light switch, a connected security system, a connected thermostat and connected water meters. So those are the standard connected devices that every home has out here in Sterling Ranch.
RT Today: Okay. What about maybe someone is looking at these homes and they say, “You know what, I’m not a tech person and I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to figure this out.” What sort of like user experience or I guess tech support things do you maybe have available to help walk people through all the different capabilities?
WH: Yeah, so when people move in we actually provide them with a technology walk through. So we actually have someone there onsite help them get up and running with the internet and then also walk them through the STEWARD system and how to use it. We also have onsite support and we have a website, Lumiere.technology that has a help section where people can troubleshoot themselves and then submit a trouble ticket if they can’t figure it out for whatever reason and we have people standing by to actually take those trouble tickets in and then come out and help yeah.
RT Today: Okay, awesome. Yeah so it looks like we’re in a master bedroom now, maybe. I think one of my favorite parts of these homes is the huge windows. It feels, the whole thing feels so open which is awesome. I think it kinda, again, I think ties back to that whole, the connection between nature and technology. I really kind of feel that in the homes. I don’t really feel like I’m cooped up inside at all. I definitely feel connected to the outdoors which is awesome being here.
WH: Another thing that we try to do out here in Sterling Ranch is we’ve tried to enable technology, not force it down people’s throat and so everything that you see in the STEWARD system also works completely independently of the STEWARD system. So if you’re someone who doesn’t wanna deal with the technology and isn’t interested in that, that’s completely fine, you don’t have to use it. It’s embedded in your home, we’ve made a system that’s really expandable, easy to add onto but not necessary. So you can still enjoy the Sterling Ranch community without having a deep dive into the tech world.
RT Today: Yeah, awesome. Cool.
WH: So this is the main level of Parkwood’s model right here. You can see really expansive feel, just completely wide open.
RT Today: Yeah, I already understand why this one is one of your favorites.
WH: Yeah. One of the really cool things about really all the homes in Sterling Ranch, is they have this indoor/outdoor space. So if you see this, you can actually open up these doors completely. Come over here, open up these doors and then open up the doors down there as well and so you have this space that has this kind of dual indoor/outdoor feel where people can easily come in and out of the outdoors and enjoy the nice Colorado weather.
RT Today: Again, I was saying the last time, they all feel so open. I feel like I never feel cooped up inside or anything. It’s super nice. If it’s raining you can still kind of be outside. Wow.
WH: Yeah. This little fire pit. They’ve got this little rec room in here that can be a great indoor/outdoor room and they’ve mounted this…
RT Today: Oh yeah, you can open this whole thing.
WH: Yeah and they’ve mounted the TV right here so you can sit out there, outside and hang out and watch the TV.
RT Today: Cool.
WH: Some really cool spaces designed in this community.
RT Today: Yeah.
WH: I’ll take you guys downstairs to the basement.
RT Today: Sweet.
WH: It’s finished in here.
RT Today: Oh wow.
WH: Yeah, so this Parkwood home has a ton of space down here in the basement.
RT Today: Yeah you have your own little bar for party time.
WH: Yeah exactly.
RT Today: That’s awesome. Yeah that’s super nice. Sterling Ranch loves pool tables.
WH: Gotta show off some nice little amenities you know. Show people how they can use the space.
RT Today: Yeah. Yeah wow, this is great. This is super nice. I could live in this basement just alone.
WH: This would be more than enough room. Take you upstairs real quick.
RT Today: Cool. I like how each house has a little porch too which is super nice.
WH: Yeah. Yeah having that indoor/outdoor space is really cool and one of the things that we definitely let the builders know was something that we thought would work here in Sterling Ranch and they’ve built their designs to accentuate that.
RT Today: Yeah. Got another bedroom. Aw cool. Pretty cool.
WH: Little balcony right there.
RT Today: Yeah, super nice. Little workout room there. Wow.
WH: And you got the mountains out your window.
RT Today: Oh yeah. So then another house will just go in right there, right?
RT Today: Are there any houses with like, just out of curiosity, are there any houses with like bigger yard options or anything like that?
WH: So one of things in this first filing, especially early on, we’re keeping the lots pretty small when it comes to the yard. A lot of that’s because of water conservation. So we’re really looking to help conserve water and water in the home actually you can treat and then put it back out into the environment and use again but once you put water outside, you’ve lost it forever. So that’s why that outdoor water is super critical and we don’t want a bunch of just green grass. Our goal, we actually have a partnership with the Denver Botanic Gardens, where we have an approved plant list. Everyone in the community actually for their landscaping, gets their landscaping approved and comes in and talks about, “All right, what are approved plants lists that, plants that are very drought resistant and do well in this climate?” So you don’t need a lot of water but will still look really nice.
RT Today: Very cool. Oh that’s awesome. I didn’t know you had that partnership. I was wondering ’cause we’re still in Littleton, correct?
WH: Yes. Technically this is Littleton by the address. It’s technically unincorporated Douglas County.
RT Today: Okay. So I was wondering, is there any interaction with local governments for all this? Were there any special permits you had to get or anything like that?
WH: Yeah and honestly, I’m probably not the best person to talk with about that but yeah we’ve been working with Douglas County in order to get all this done. That process has been a journey, just like any development. One of the things that we’ve been able to do that I think is fairly unique is actually have a very flexible zoning on our commercial. We don’t know what the future of commercial retail is gonna be in 20 years from now so we really wanted a lot of flexibility and we’re looking to stay away from the big box stores like a Target and a Wal-Mart that traditionally have dominated suburban communities. We want more boutique shops and really walkable areas that people can enjoy instead of large service parking lots with big box stores.
RT Today: Cool. Well Walker, thanks so much for showing us around and showing the cool tech that’s going into Sterling Ranch. If viewers wanna get more information where can they check that out?
RT Today: Awesome. Well for all you out there, this has been Alex Moersen with Residential Tech Today.