High-Tech Retirement Homes On Sale in Utah

A housing development of futuristic, digital homes went online and on sale this week in St. George. The homes are fiber optic-ready and let an owner control everything from heating and cooling to phone service and security through a home network.

The homes are in a community called SunRiver (search) for people 55 and older. Developer Darcy Stewart said the idea was to give residents the latest technology to help make living there fun and convenient. Some 850 of 1,800 planned homes have been completed.

"There is an intelligent environment inside these homes," said Aaron Myer, co-founder of In2 Network (search), a hardware andsoftware firm in Murray providing the technology used to control the home's networked systems. "We've found people are very comfortable having a Web server environment inside the home," he said.

A home's networks also let residents control lighting and entertainment system, access security systems from remote locations and be alerted by e-mail to any problems. A community Intranet also keeps residents informed of local news and events.

Stewart says the homes are equipped to evolve to the next level of technology as it becomes available.

Companies like Honeywell, Lutron Electronics and Utah-based TriAxis are major partners in the endeavor.

"One thing we're seeing with builders and homeowners is that they want simple, easy to use, reasonably priced homes that they can control remotely with the touch of a button," said Phil Scheetz of Lutron, which supplies the lighting control system. "Darcy's solution is literally years ahead of the curve."

To access their home network, residents can either use a touch screen mounted inside the home, or connect to it from any personal computer, laptop, personal digital assistant or other device that can display a Web page.

"It's all about convenience," said Kevin Marquess, builder sales manager with Honeywell. "You have remote access to everything."

About 90 percent of the homes were pre-sold, at prices between $186,000 and $400,000.

"It's like the George Jetson (search) cartoons, only it's here today," Marquess said, referring to the popular 1960s cartoon set 100 years in the future.