Japanese ‘smart homes’ land in New York, via Israel
$13 million visual intercom system in Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town connects 8,760 apartments through 178 entrances in 89 towers to each other.
ELBEX ISRAEL general manager Yochai Amidi Photo: Courtesy
The new $13 million visual intercom system in Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town, the
largest in the world, connects 8,760 apartments through 178 entrances in 89
towers to each other, with a central command system, security and fire-alarm
lines, and was delivered from Israel by way of Japan.
The company behind
the system, Elbex, was founded in Japan by an Israeli, David Elberbaum, in 1974
and has since grown into a global entity with branches in the United States,
Germany, France, Belgium, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Israel. It
is pushing the development of apps to control video intercom-based “smart
“StuyTown” ordered the system in part to help track if its
tenants were actually living there and who were subletting their rent-controlled
apartments for profit. In addition to an intercom, the system provides a variety
of services for the whole complex, including security and fire alarms. It allows
the “econcierge” to send tenants messages, including alerts for water outages,
payment reminders and general announcements.
Despite its ambitious scope,
the system provides only a fraction of its potential. Both in Israel and around
the world, the company is installing the intercom for use as a central control
panel for everything in the home, including lights, blinds, audio-video
equipment, water heaters and the security alarm.
everything from their tablet or phone remotely,” Elbex Israel general manager
Yochai Amidi said.
“This is being developed in Israel – because we’re
good at the software aspect – for the worldwide organization.”
the system is already installed in the Philippe Starck-designed Yoo Towers and
the Africa Israel building. But Amidi said it could be a staple of future homes
for its relatively low cost and, perhaps more importantly, its energy-savings
“We’re moving forcefully into power consumption, connecting
with the smart grid,” he said. By connecting the system with home appliances, it
can control them and also monitor and adjust their usage. Having an accurate
readout of what appliances cost can help people reduce their electricity
consumption by 15 percent to 20%, Elbex said.
Because Elbex, which once
used 6% of global closed-circuit television equipment, developed an
infrastructure to run in parallel to a building’s electricity wiring, it is
focused on selling its services to construction companies as they build new
“Today, worldwide, 10 million to 15 million brand-new
apartments are being built each year,” Amidi said.
The cost of equipping
a medium-sized apartment with 40 electric monitoring points, including sockets,
switches, blinds and water heaters, is about $2,000, he said.
don’t have to run new or additional infrastructure like our competitors, their
costs are four or five times our offering price,” Amidi said.
where about 30,000 apartments are built annually, Elbex estimates it will sell
3,000 of the systems this year and twice an many by 2015.
The company has
new systems in Ramat Aviv, Haifa and Kiryat Ono and is completing another on the
Jaffa beach, as well as installing a centralized system for an entire
neighborhood in Ramat Aviv, the first of its kind.
Elbex also hopes to
add commerce features to the monitor, allowing people to purchase groceries and
prescription refills from their intercom. Such amenities, Amidi said, might
tempt Stuyvesant Town to upgrade.