Two Seattle Companies Have Built the Smart Home of the Future

This Eastlake home is smarter than most
Though it looks like a standard home, the gadgets that control many elements (from the blinds to the heating and cooling system to the exhaust fan) speak to one another, enabling the house, in many ways, to take care of itself

This article appears in print in the May 2018 issue. Click here to subscribe.

With the simple click of “I’m home” from an app, the doors unlock, the lights snap on. Maybe you like your home to be a pleasant 68 degrees. Maybe you want the TV on the moment you walk in the door. It’s your house—you make the rules.

Well, it’s not technically your house. This new three-bedroom, two-bath Eastlake smart home—built in a tag-team effort by Lynnwood-based tech company Kirio and Seattle-based sustainable design and building company BuildSound—belongs to Scott (who requested that his last name not be used). He purchased the home in January as a long-term landing spot after spending the past 13 years working in IT in Asia. And it was the house’s advanced technology, not just contemporary design, which sold him on it.

The Eastlake project is a first for both Kirio and BuildSound. Although Kirio’s smart app has made it possible for users to coordinate various smart home gadgets (Nest, Sonos and others), the company has now designed a smart hub that acts as a brain, and is built into the home during construction (or remodel) to further integrate smart technology. It seemed like an obvious choice to work with BuildSound, since co-owner Rob McVicars is an investor in Kirio. “We understand we impact people’s lives from the moment they wake up,” McVicars says. “We really spend a lot of time thinking about [how we can create] the best possible living environment for someone. This is the next natural step: start providing a home that can sort of manage itself.”

From left; The Kirio Smart Home Hub is the brains of the operation, communicating between individual devices and accessible on the owner’s phone via the Kirio app; Under-cabinet lights make for a smart, functional work space; under-sink sensors detect water leakage and signal an automatic water shut off to eliminate the risk of coming home to a flooded kitchen. Photographs courtesy of Kirio. 

Although there’s a long list of gadgets at play here—such as automated blinds, lights, sound system, surveillance cameras—this management system is really the crux of what makes the smart home so unique. By allowing two ductless heating/cooling systems to “talk” with the exhaust fan and Nest thermometer, the house is able to essentially heat, cool and control humidity itself. Sensors under the sinks can detect water leakage, which sends a signal to shut off the water, eliminating the chance of coming home to a flooded bathroom. Over time, these Kirio-managed systems and gadgets will log a resident’s patterns and use machine learning to send suggested automations. For example, you always get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night but only want the light at 20 percent then. Kirio will handle that for you.

Kirio CEO Rob Green says these smart hub brains are only being sold to building companies like BuildSound at the moment to ensure proper installation. “We want something that just works, and you don’t think about it,” Green says. “It almost rubs your feet, but not quite.”

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