(CNN) – Floating homes, luxury living and smart home technology don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
But Ocean Builders, a Panama-based company that specializes in innovative marine technology, has just unveiled a fleet of “revolutionary live pods” that manage to bring all three together.
Described as the “world’s first eco-restorative homes,” the pods, which range in price from about $295,000 to $1.5 million, are currently under construction at Linton Bay Marina on Panama’s northern coast.
Designed by Dutch architect Koen Olthuis and his team at Waterstudio, the three models available include the flagship SeaPod, built for living in the water, the GreenPod, designed for land use, and the EcoPod, an ecologically and economically friendly option.
A rendering of the Seapod, one of three upcoming pod models from Panama-based company Ocean Builders.
Seapod was conceived by Rüdiger Koch, Head of Engineering at Ocean Builders, together with Chief Executive Officer Grant Romundt, as a solution to the lack of space at popular beach destinations.
The elevated structure offers 833 square meters (73 square feet) of living space, including a master bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom, spread over three and a half levels.
With room for two people, the unit uses over 1,688 cubic feet of air-filled steel tubing to float 7.5 feet (2.2 meters) above the waves, and features 575 square feet of panoramic windows and 360-degree ocean views.
Romundt hopes the design will challenge perceptions of homes and travel, and allow residents to live on the water without having to make sacrifices when it comes to the “luxuries of modern living.”
“Normally when you live on the water, it’s on a boat, which has a living situation that is unacceptable to most people,” Romundt tells CNN Travel.
“So we designed a house that floats on water that gives you an experience of living on land, but even more.”
Boxes should be equipped with the latest technology, along with customizable apps that adapt the design and functionality to suit those inside.
The elevated structure was designed by Dutch architect Koen Olthuis and the Waterstudio team.
Meanwhile, special “smart rings” worn by residents will enable them to unlock doors and turn on their music with the wave of their hand.
“If [technology company] Apple had built a house, I think you’re going to end up with a SeaPod, or a GreenPod, or an EcoPod,” says Romundt. “There’s a lot of technology built into the house.
“I like to think of it as, instead of having a phone as a digital assistant, your home actually becomes your assistant and you can use it to optimize your life.”
The pods will initially be located in an area close to Linton Bay Marina. However, the Ocean Builders team hopes to be able to roll them out internationally once they are sure the technology can be supported elsewhere.
A longtime advocate for living by the ocean, Romundt previously lived on a houseboat in Toronto and says it’s a lifestyle that’s hard to match.
“There’s just something really magical about being able to get up in the morning, walk down, jump on a paddle board and go for a paddle,” he explains.
The units are currently under construction in Panama, with sales expected to come online later this year.
“It is very quiet and beautiful. Most people spend the entire year dreaming of their two-week vacation where they go to a tropical island, hang out, relax, regenerate, and kick back.
“So why not live like this year-round? It’s so easy to be able to work remotely now.”
While those who decide to live in one of these unique units will likely need to have a sense of adventure as well as a love of the water, Romundt says the team doesn’t necessarily have a specific type of customer in mind.
In fact, he’s confident that most who will experience Seapod for just a few minutes will have the opportunity to own one.
“When I lived on my houseboat in Toronto, every single person who came to visit fell in love with the place,” he says.
“So all I have to do is get people to ride a Seapod for five minutes. The experience will just blow your mind. It’s really incredible.”
But what about practical things like grocery shopping and traveling back and forth from the bin to the mainland?
According to Romundt, the custom aerial delivery drones will be used to deliver items such as food and medicine, as well as “smaller everyday items.”
For larger shipments, there is a separate autonomous vessel that will also function as an ocean recycling vessel, collecting trash and debris in order to keep the surrounding area clean.
The pods must be “constructed and managed in harmony with the surrounding area”.
Residents and visitors can be transported to and from the SeaPod via dinghies, jet skis, local water taxis and/or their own boats or ships.
And while they certainly seem geared towards those with a more minimalist approach, there’s a 1,250 square foot storage area inside.
With a focus on sustainability, the pods are designed “to benefit the surrounding environment” and provide “a natural habitat for ocean life to invade and thrive.”
“We’re trying to build and design a house that’s good for the environment and doesn’t harm the environment,” explains Romundt.
“And we’re always trying to innovate and find ways to do it in an even better way. We’re not perfect right now, but we’re trying to get better and better all the time.”
The first completed pods will be revealed online at the end of September, and prospective buyers will be able to go and check them out for themselves soon.
“People have been trying to buy them for years,” Romundt says, explaining that the Ocean Builders team decided not to take deposits until buyers could actually see the pods in real life.
SeaPod offers 833 square feet (73 square meters) spread over three and a half levels.
“This is so new. And there are so many real estate things that people put money into that never happen.
“We didn’t want to take deposits until people could get off and set foot in a pod. So I’m excited that we’re finally at that point.”
“This is a massive undertaking. I wanted to do it two years ago. But to do it in just three and a half years is pretty amazing.”
Production is scheduled to begin on another 1,000 pods by 2024.