Taking control of the home

Small talk
Jerzy Ryłko, Robert Orlewski and Maciej Putniorz of S-Labs, on what makes their home management platform, Appartme, stand out from the crowd.

A few large residential developers – including Murapol and Skanska – have recently announced that they have been using your platform for their projects. In what way does Appartme differ from other home management systems?

Robert Orlewski, vice-president, S-Labs: What certainly makes us stand out is that our platform can integrate all the important systems that can be found in the home, but is also very simple to set up and easy to use. Users can control the water, electricity and heating via a smartphone app and by using a panel by the front door as well.

So it’s a bit like being in a hotel – walking out of a room you turn off the electricity and the television by simply taking the key card...

RO: There’s a certain similarity, but, our system is first of all meant to give you a sense of security and control. Leaving the house, we can cut the electricity off and set the heating to economical mode. So when we get back from work or from holiday, there are certainly not going to be any unpleasant surprises waiting in store for us.

Apart from the defrosted freezer because, after all, the electricity would have been cut off a week or so earlier...

Maciej Putniorz, marketing manager: The freezer – just like any other device that needs a constant supply of electricity when we’re not there – is connected to a different circuit. The Appartme platform has many functions and is really easy to use. You can even add new functionality when you need to. We agree on the basic set up of the system with the developer, but the home owner can then add more smart systems to the platform whenever they need to. Until quite recently, all home management systems were made just for geeks who are into gadgets and people who know a lot about computer systems; moreover, such systems required a specialist service to install them as did any later changes to the settings. However, the latest systems, like Appartme, are designed to be user-friendly even for children and the elderly.

Why are residential developers interested in such systems? Don’t they push the final price up of the property? And surely every home-buyer could easily install such a system themselves.

RO: A modern home management system helps to make a project stand out, and in today’s highly-competitive market developers are looking at different ways of differentiating their product. In luxury developments, a home management system is installed as standard, while for the mid-range segment it’s offered as an option. And added to that, the installation a home management system is a contribution to the current trends for minimising running costs and caring for the environment.

Jerzy Ryłko, CEO: Historically speaking, you could compare what’s happening now to the situation on the automotive market. Around 20–30 years ago, cars were sold without any of those extras without which selling them today would be considered unthinkable. Who would buy a car today without a stereo, a remote locking system or air conditioning? Would any car showroom even try to sell such a vehicle? It’ll be a similar situation with homes. The ability to control the electricity and heating remotely was until recently a gizmo that only the well-off could afford, but today it’s just a standard labour-saving device.

Where’s the market now heading? What else can we expect to feature in home management systems?

JR: I think that we’re heading in the direction of greater functionality. This includes both systems within the home and those that operate in the common areas of the building. Services related to health, insurance and security are also going to be added. You’ll be able to operate the front door intercom and use the parcel lockers, but you’ll also be able to call in a handyman or buy an insurance policy. Such platforms are going to develop in a way that strengthens the ties between people on an estate and thus help to foster local communities. One developer working with us offers the residents of its buildings coworking space. This is for those who have to work from home, but don’t have suitable working conditions. We are currently developing a desk reservation system in these areas and, eventually, we want the system to be able to manage this space.

MP: Home management systems are still growing in popularity and are becoming the standard in new residential estates. We think it’s astounding that today every young person has apps in their phone for ordering food or renting an electric scooter, but they still can’t be sure that they’ve turned the iron or the taps off when they leave their homes. The latest home management systems give people that certainty.

Interviewer: Tomasz Cudowski