Manned security post, intercom-connected apartments are outdated. In place are security features such as video door frame and biometric access control for sophisticated eyeball recognition, says Nandhini Sundar

Use remote control to switch on lights and draw your curtains; or a GPRS-enabled control to use all your electronic gadgets; motion sensors to activate lighting; or biometric access to lifts and apartments. Sounds like features in a condominium in the hi-tech West? Not really. These are facilities offered in some of the high-end apartment complexes in Namma Bengaluru.

Not too far ago, the provision of club facilities offering swimming pool, tennis and badminton courts, squash courts, and hi-tech gym were a novelty, and found only in high-end apartment complexes. With these facilities increasing the marketability of these complexes by offering a lifestyle sought by customers both from the budget segment as well as medium and high-end, such features may soon became part of every new project proposed.

With expanding customer expectations, mini townships too surfaced offering facilities such as school, shopping complex and more. But it now appears that is not enough. For, the discerning customer with constantly expanding needs and expectations is looking for something more that would set the dwelling apart from the rest; a totally hi-tech home where not only security is controlled by sophisticated electronic gadgets, but where lifestyle is governed by the touch of a button on a remote control.

Literally high-tech

Thus, a manned security post or an intercom-connected apartment can now be considered outdated. In place are security features like a video door frame, biometric access controls that can range from smart cards to thumb impression or even a sophisticated eyeball recognition device. CCTV cameras, old though the concept, could now feature in vantage points and be accessible from remote locations instead of from within the complex.

While these may no more be perceived as fancy fittings but as essentials in a high-end apartment, a question that raises here is how workable are these features. For instance, with live-in household help figuring on a significant scale in such apartment complexes, features like a smart card or eyeball recognition devices may prove to be a little too sophisticated for this section of residents.

Operational problems

Similarly, operational problems can arise when the gadgets malfunction because of wrong usage. When used in small apartment complexes, the cost per unit can get significantly impacted as a result of installation of these features.

Unless there is a significant and perceptible market for these features, a sharp increase in cost per unit can prove as a deterrent, as it can act as a trade-off between opting for a more spacious unit in an equally high-end complex as compared to a smaller one sporting these features. It is not uncommon to find the market declining to compromise on space especially when a competing option is equally attractive.

Cost factors

Says Viswa Pratap Desu, Vice-President, Marketing and Sales, Brigade Group, “The increase in cost is not significant in large complexes, approximating to about five per cent. The value addition, however, for this incremental cost is tremendous as is evident in the market for it.” Incidentally, Brigade Gateway, a township project of this group, incorporates many of these features including video alarm, building automation system, CCTV in vantage points in common areas, access card for exit and entry doors leading to lobbies and garden areas, and panic alarm in the kitchen. In one of its upcoming premium projects where the lift opens on to the lobby of the apartment, even the lifts are accessible only through swipe cards.

Adds Desu, “biometric access may pose functional issues, especially if the complex is large. It is workable in a smaller premium project.” According to him, eventually, how these features work solely depends on the mindset of the residents. “There have been cases where residents have decided to close even simple features like garbage chutes because of the regular maintenance issues.”

Features, still new

Says Bijay Agarwal, MD, Salarpuria Sattva Group, “Since these features are still new in their concept in apartment complexes and are currently incorporated only in high-end apartments, the cost addition can be 15 to 20 per cent, especially if it is a smaller project offering premium units.”

But this should not deter the customer, according to him as there is a significant market for it, with people seeking such features. “A few years down the line, these can become standard features in all high-end segments.”

Besides incorporating hi-tech features to meet security concerns, Salarpuria is also introducing lifestyle-oriented automation such as GPRS-enabled control for electronic gadgets, motion sensors, and remote control for lighting and curtains.

Concurs T.S. Sateesh, MD, Hoysala Projects, “Bangalore being a hi-tech city, its residents too are seeking a similar hi-tech lifestyle and are willing to pay for getting that facility.”

As for the operational hassles involved in these gadgets, he adds, “the systems need to be of a very high quality and maintained well.” Hoysala has incorporated smart access cards to its lifts and homes in its upcoming premium project.