Kasita Packs Big Home-Automation Punch in Itty Bitty Tiny House at SXSW

Kasita combines the tiny house and smart home with RTI control, Lutron lighting, Sonos, Origin Acoustics, DoorBird, Amazon Dot and more at SXSW.

Kasita Packs Big Home-Automation Punch in Itty Bitty Tiny House at SXSW

RTI home automation, Lutron lighting controls, Origin Acoustics loudspeakers, DoorBird smart doorbell, sound by Sonos, voice control through Amazon Alexa … all of this smart-home technology and more is packed in a 352-square-foot living space from Austin, Texas start-up Kasita.

The company is ready to take orders on the pre-fab homes, demonstrated at SXSW this week in Austin. The base model will start to roll out of the Austin facility this year at $139,000 and Kasita hopes to offer upgrade paths for those interested in even more smart home technology.

Kasita CEO and co-founder Jeff Wilson started the company after experimenting with living in a dumpster — for a year.

Wilson was a professor of environmental science at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin when, in 2014, he attempted to renovate and live in a 33-square-foot dumpster on the university campus to see how much space people really need to live comfortably. Wilson’s students called him “Professor Dumpster.”

Wilson in his dumpster home

“It was absolutely insane,” says Wilson. “I just wanted to try it as an experiment. What happens when you push the absolute limits of small and base level?”

Wilson learned that while a dumpster-sized house might be too small, people could certainly downsize their living space and still live comfortably and perhaps even more conveniently if the house was designed well.

Inside Kasita’s Tiny Home

“This is a 12,000-pound piece of hardware filled with software,” says Wilson. “I don’t think the Internet of Things are really useful until it becomes the Internet of experience.”

Wilson isn’t messing around. At first glance, some technology in the Kasita home may a wee bit off-the-shelf consumer-y, but underneath it all is a robust RTI processor.

What’s inside:

  • DoorBird doorbell and camera
  • Lutron Radio RA lighting control
  • Nexus 21 TV lift
  • Sonos gear with custom driver
  • Amazon Dot
  • Anthem AV receiver for the “home theater”
  • Origin Acoustics speakers and subwoofer
  • Nebia water-efficient shower
  • RTI processor and iPanel app

Kasita wanted the technology to be so intuitive it’s second nature to the user, so a new homeowner could enter the home and immediately be able to use the system. The company created a customized app interface for the RTI system as well as several preprogrammed environmental settings to fit the “moods,” equivalent to other control system’s “scenes.”

The morning “wake up” mood is automatically initiated, turning on the lights and a favorite radio station. Another group of personalized settings can be used when the homeowner returns in the evening. Water and energy use can also be easily monitored and optimized by the user.

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