Brett Worthington, Dan Daugherty, Lucas Haldeman, and Randa McMinn on the AIM Connected Home presentation.

Brett Worthington, Dan Daugherty, Lucas Haldeman, and Randa McMinn on the AIM Connected Home presentation.

It is an owner/operator’s nightmare. A resident in the Phoenix area recently left his air conditioning unit set to 60 degrees then disappeared for nearly a month.

The utility bill for the month solely for that unit was in excess of $14,000.

That’s why the Internet of Things, otherwise known as the Industrial Internet, is so essential to the apartment industry. A panel at the 2015 Apartment Internet Marketing Conference delivered that point and offered vast possibilities for connected apartments during The AIM Connected Home presentation.

“We’re still a long ways from what you’d call mainstream,” said Brett Worthington, vice president and general manager of Wink, Inc. “But the do-it-yourself applications are now readily available. Take it home, download the app and install it in your home.”

The Internet of Things refers to common household devices that now can be tended to online. Washers and dryers. Coffeemakers. Door locks. Thermostats. If the Phoenix-area property had been equipped with home automation, the owner/operator could have quickly diagnosed the air conditioning frivolity and turned it off remotely.

With help of the Industrial Internet, a work-bound father can use his phone to unlock the door at his home when his child arrives from school. One desiring a few extra minutes of sleep can start the coffee from upstairs.

“In the past, the thing standing in the way of making home automation happen was that the systems required an expensive piece of equipment to interact with them,” said Lucas Haldeman, chief technology and marketing officer of Colony American Homes. “Now we all have that expensive piece of hardware. It’s our own smartphone.”

A pop culture reference utilized by the panel referred to a Kardashian sister who suspects another sister of trying on her clothes. A motion-detecting camera revealed it was actually Bruce Jenner, and the Kardashian sister was quickly able to access the footage through her mobile device.

While home automation figures to become commonplace and cost-effective for residents, owner/operators also can reap benefits. In addition to the thermostat example, owner/operators can monitor a property’s common areas and reduce electricity usage by an estimated 15 to 20 percentage.

Some have been slow to embrace the technology, but the panel equated adoption to the early days of Internet banking. The concept initially was met with unrest, largely because it was new, but now Internet banking is widespread and universal.

Some worry about the technology quickly becoming outdated, by cloud-based systems can be perpetually updated. Other consumers fear their home automation could get hacked. The panel downplayed that notion.

“Maybe you could hack in, but what are you going to find out?” Remotely CEO Dan Daugherty says. “That I keep my thermostat at 72 degrees?”

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