A Touch of Class

Seamless Control at Florida’s State-of-The-Art Jade Beach Development


Designed by a team of celebrated architects led by Carlos Ott, Jade Beach offers as one of its prime attractions a smart home technology installation that provides intelligent and highly integrated control of the home environment, together with an advanced concierge system in one elegant and easy-to-use RTI touch panel.

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The recently completed Jade Beach in Sunny Isles, Florida, is a 51-story, 248-condo tower on the ocean with its own private beach and a list of high-end features that define it as a state-of-the-art development.

An oceanfront pool deck with spacious hot tub, pool services, pool bar, and children’s play room; a state-of-the-art health club with aerobics, cardio, and weights; the cutting edge in personal physical training with digital technology, high-tech machines, and private access to television and radio; a 24-hour business center with private offices and conference rooms; fingerprint access to’s hard to think of a luxury amenity the developers haven’t included in the specifications.

Designed by a team of celebrated architects led by Carlos Ott, Jade Beach offers as one of its prime attractions a smart home technology installation that provides intelligent and highly integrated control of the home environment, together with an advanced concierge system in one elegant and easy-to-use RTI touch panel.

“Although the system brings together control of different components, and uses Web-based technologies, the key to making it attractive for residents was to endow it with the simplicity of an appliance,” says the project’s New Technologies Consultant Engineer Jimmy Baikovicius, PhD. “Things really start to take off when the Internet is experienced as just another utility like electricity or water — becoming in the process almost part of the development’s fabric. It should always be available and ready to use without having to worry about how it’s provided, serviced, and paid for.” To achieve this, Jimmy’s company Ikatu worked with the architects starting at the blueprint stage to create a user experience completely customized to each condo, and one that offered total reliability.

Mounted into the wall of each unit’s kitchen/dining area, a sleek touch-screen panel offers instant access to a high-level menu of options for control and interaction with the condo’s environment and services provided for the building’s community, such as the concierge, valet parking, amenities, and maintenance services. The panel also includes a messaging system, access to the deliveries queue, and controls for the automation configuration and system settings.

The graphical user interface was designed with ease of use in mind, to enable users to experience its capabilities intuitively. “That was one of the most important design criteria,” says Baikovicius. “For the system to be usable from day to day, it had to be simple to operate and very responsive. It also had to reflect the high-style values of the condo as a whole. So a completely unique and streamlined interface was required.”

To achieve the look and feel the project needed, Ikatu chose RTI’s K4 touch-screen control unit. A stand-alone touch panel with infrared control, video monitoring, and Ethernet connectivity, in standard configuration the K4 offers a TFT LCD, full VGA resolution, a powerful 400-MHz 32-bit MCU, 32 MB of Flash memory, stereo speakers, and an infrared receiver.

“The K4 is the only panel that can work as an appliance to our satisfaction, in that it will be always on, will reboot itself if there’s a failure, and doesn’t clutter the interaction with a browser interface or any other non-essential elements. With the K4 we can create a complete touch panel appearance.”

The touch panel gives residents the ability to access a wide range of amenities outside the apartment, including valet parking with direct requests to the valet through a simple interface; reservations for common areas and services, such as the ballroom, business center, masseur, spa, and others; ticket reservations; building activities information, such as board of directors meetings and other notifications; and room service. The panel also provides a communications function, allowing a simple and direct way of communicating with the apartment for functions such as package reception and management, or providing information on local restaurants, shopping, and shows.

To adapt the K4 to Ikatu’s requirements, Baikovicius’ software team worked with RTI engineers to customize the touch panel’s operation for Ikatu’s proprietary software interface dubbed Mirigi (amaze, astonish), and to configure it as a client server so that all the units could be updated simultaneously and automatically. Major changes to the system are made on the server by Ikatu when required. There’s also an interface that allows the property manager to create and add customized content. An example would be the creation of forms to allow unit owners to submit reports about the cable TV service and request service calls. This updating capacity is an all-important feature of the system, and one that Ikatu maintains is unique.

“The client/server architecture means that any time a change is required, perhaps because the condo has added new facilities or to take advantage of new technologies, we can make the changes on the server, and the panels in each unit are automatically updated immediately. Many systems still need each panel to be updated separately, which is not very practical in large multi-dwelling units.”

Although Ikatu has now deployed systems based on its core software in similar developments in Florida and New York, the software for each project is tailored to the unique features of the individual condo. At Jade Beach for example, three languages are provided: Spanish, English, and Russian; and the menu of options exactly reflects the current state of the amenities available.

The system incorporates control of the condo’s automation systems, such as lighting, shades, and climate control. Using the touch panel, residents can quickly select presets for scenarios such as welcoming guests, throwing a party, or having friends to dinner and the lighting and other systems will react accordingly. The K4’s open architecture allows residents to add a further level of control and integration of their entertainment systems and any other automation system with the assistance of an integrator. Custom control and additional portable touch panels can be added to any specification, and incorporated into tailored global settings such as “Good night,” “Welcome,” or “Energy saver.” 

As important as it was for the design to offer the instant access, reliability, and streamlined interface of a custom-designed touch panel, Ikatu also made sure that a range of other devices can remotely access the functions on Mirigi’s server. Offering a clue as to the remote control potential of the system is a built-in iPhone® dock, which is located beneath the touch panel.

“It’s important to have the appliance-quality experience offered by the K4 panel, so that interaction with the system is completely reliable and becomes second nature to the people living in the condo. But there are also times when residents might want to have access to the system while they are away from the panel. For example, they might want to adjust the climate in the unit so it is set when they return home from a trip, or they may have gone on vacation and forgotten to switch the condo to the energy-saver mode, or they may just be in the bedroom. With remote access through a mobile phone or Internet-enabled computer, residents can have full access to their system and its functions from any location.”

In order to extend some of the sleek interactivity offered by the K4 panel to the remote resident, Ikatu designed an elegant graphical interface that presents the menu options and controls in the familiar iPhone style.

In each Jade Beach condo, Ikatu works from day one of the project with the architects, in order to ensure the correct specification of the conduits for the corporate network and compliance with regulations. Integrating the system into the infrastructure of the building from the earliest stages reflects the importance given by the developers to providing residents with an unparalleled experience of state-of-the-art living, and enables Ikatu to attend to every last detail of a system that ultimately expresses its streamlined efficiency through the elegance of the touch panel in the kitchen wall.

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