A look inside the amazing smart-home systems that rich people use
- Smart Home systems that rich people use are wildly different from the Amazon Alexa you may have just bought for your home.
- Oprah Winfrey has a radiant heat system that automatically melts snow off of her winter home's driveway, while Mark Zuckerberg's custom AI-powered specialty app acts as his own personal butler voiced by actor Morgan Freeman.
Rich people don't skimp when it comes to outfitting their homes with the latest tech.
A "prominent Upper East Side" family was willing to pay a couple $100,000-$150,000 (R1.3 million to R1.9 million) a year to oversee cooking, cleaning, personal shopping, and other household duties, according to a 2017 listing in Hire Society, as Business Insider previously reported.
In addition to housekeeping, the position required the pair to be familiar with three modern smart home technology systems: Lutron, Crestron, and Kaleidescape.
If those brand names left you scratching your head, Lutron is a smart home manufacturer that offers energy-saving light dimmers, switches, and shades that can control anywhere 50 to 10,000 devices. Crestron programs offer integrated lighting control, home security, speakers, and other technologies.
Kaleidescape's multi-room entertainment server technologies that stream video and audio are the perfect systems for a rich person's at-home movie theatre.
Many of us have dreamed about living in a home where mundane tasks — like washing the dishes or turning on the TV — can be outsourced to a device.
With the creation of products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, that dream is closer to becoming a reality for the mass market. But if a couple of hundred of dollars can buy the average consumer these gadgets, what can those who have unlimited resources get out of their smart home systems? The answer: pretty much everything and anything they want.
"Affluent households are far more likely to become early adopters of new technology than the average consumer, and smart home systems are no different," Winnie Bekmanis, who works in product marketing for the Internet of Things (IoT) at Qualcomm, told Business Insider. "What differentiates the pricier smart home systems is the scale of installation and personalisation."
Personalisation is the key in smart homes of rich people
Celebrity homes are the perfect examples of what personalised smart home systems can look like. In an interview with CNET, actress Sofia Vergara talked about building a smart house that lets her not only watch movies in her at-home theatre, but also allows her to Skype with family and use her social media on a mega screen.
According to the LA Times, media mogul Oprah Winfrey spent $14 million (R184 million) on a high-tech ski home in Telluride where a radiant heat system keeps the driveway completely snow free.
Bekmanis said that when it comes to luxurious homes, those systems that can intuitively adapt to the entertainment or security preferences of the homeowner are naturally more desirable.
"Smart home systems are key to connecting every disparate smart device in the house together smoothly," she said. "When these systems are automating trivial chores and tasks for the homeowner, such as turning off the house lights or making coffee in the morning, they can add up to serious time savings."
Guests in the home of Microsoft founder Bill Gates receive devices to connect them to the smart house technology, which includes controlling temperature, lighting, and music, Business Insider previously reported.
In a Facebook video, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg showed off his very own AI-powered home system, J.A.R.V.I.S, which is controlled through a specialty app that Zuckerberg created and is voiced by actor Morgan Freeman.
Their smart homes are controlled from one interface
According to Bekmanis, smart home systems make it easy to precisely control and customise nearly everything in your house from one interface.
"One of the early markets to benefit from smart home technology was home security — encompassing everything from automated door and window locks to intelligent lighting and cameras. Advancements in artificial intelligence are making a notable impact on the development of these smart home security systems as well," Bekmanis said.
"Imagine security cameras that recognise the difference between an intruder and Grandma, or send a notification when a child has lost their key and needs help with remote access," she said.
If you want to make your home smarter ...
If you're thinking of investing in your own fancy at-home smart system, Bekmanis said you should plan it out thoroughly. "People often forget to keep the strength of their home WiFi network in mind as they invest in a smart home system," she said. "As connected devices continue to grow in popularity, they become more deeply integrated into every room of the home."
She recommended looking out for any spots in your home where it is difficult for devices to connect to WiFi, and to buy appropriate technology to fix that problem.
"Traditional stand-alone routers do this technology a disservice by creating dead spots in notoriously difficult areas like the bathroom or basement," she said, which can affect smart refrigerators and washing machines.
"Especially for larger homes, mesh WiFi systems are better suited for the job. The technology alleviates dead spots by scattering nodes throughout the home to keep the technology in each and every room reliably connected."
With so many smart products out there today, smart home systems make it easy to sync our physical and digital lifestyles. So if Zuckerberg's AI system inspires you to want to create your very own at-home butler voiced by an actor of your choosing (I'd love Helen Mirren, personally), you better start saving. It's going to cost you.
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