Apps that control your alarm, allow you to adjust the lighting in your elevator and even tell you what’s in your fridge are just a few of the options on the table
TECHNOLOGY FOR THE LUXURY HOME IS EXPLODING as products once deemed too futuristic and unattainable becoming more readily available.
To see just how big luxury tech is becoming, consider some of the products on display at CES 2019, the annual consumer tech show held in Las Vegas.
There were smart toilets featuring high-tech sensors that open and close lids automatically, flushing the water, along with a personal cleansing system using warm water and an air dryer, with heated seat. Samsung introduced a 219-inch LED television called The Wall and unveiled wireless audio for the home theatre system that was the talk of the show.
Virtual reality headsets, robot vacuums, smart home lamps that provide calming lights and sounds – CES was a dreamscape for gadget lovers.
But Janice Fox, broker of record at Hazelton Real Estate Inc., who was also a salesperson for Menkes’ Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences project in Yorkville, says her experience with buyers in the luxury segment, plus that of her colleagues at Hazelton, has seen trending away from gadgetry.
When it comes to home technology, the biggest priorities for luxury buyers are security, simplicity and healthy living, she says.
For example, Fox says, most buyers she deals with ask more about technology that allows owners to set home alarm systems, lock and unlock their doors, or control thermostats, all from their mobile phones.
After all, she adds, a lot of people in the luxury market are south for the winter, or up north during the summer months.
“A few years ago everyone wanted to sell home automation, TV and sound systems, and lighting systems,” she says.
But clients have backed away from heavy-duty home automation, she says, instead focusing on home security. “Almost everyone has asked me about cameras and sound, so they can see what is happening in the unit.”
“If you are buying pre-construction or new construction, I think buyers just want to know that the wiring is place. The toilets? Some people ask for it. The average person thinks it’s kind of funny. Four-thousand dollars for a toilet? They are not jumping at it.”
When talking tech for the home and common areas, Shane Baghai, points to several features in Leaside Manor, the 38-suite luxury mid-rise project his company is developing, just west of Laird Drive, south of Eglinton Avenue.
From an iPhone, owners can open and close their condo front entry doors remotely. They can turn the lights of their suite on and off remotely. The latest Miele kitchen appliances will adjust to the owner’s cooking habits. An 80-inch Samsung smart TV hanging in the living room with Rogers high speed Wi-Fi will greet the owners when they move in. Outside the suites, Kone specialty elevators are among the safest and quietest on the market.
“We are balancing bricks and masonry that would resemble more of an old-style exterior with an extremely modern, and smart-phone-enabled installation within the suites,” Baghai says.
Leaside Manor will have an electric concierge instead of a 24-hour attendant and a monitoring station will communicate with residents for such things as parcel or food deliveries.
Sam Mizrahi, president of Mizrahi Developments, the company developing The One – the 85-storey, uber-luxury retail and restaurants, hotel and condominium tower being built on the southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor streets – says home tech has been a big part of sales at his project.
“Purchasers will have a new, smart, app-based, mobile-device system where they can connect to the home,” he says.
Owners will be able to call on the valet to bring up the car from the underground garage using The One app.
The One app also works with a camera in the fridge system of individual suites.
“Say you are out and you want to go shopping but you don’t know what is in your fridge,” he says.
Another tech staple are next-generation elevators with a machine learning algorithm that allows the elevators to learn the building’s behaviour, such as hovering close to a resident’s floor at a particular time of day when that person typically leaves for work.
Other smart and fun features include the new generation LED lighting system in the elevators. Via the app, riders can program the interior lighting to their favourite colour as they ride up or down the elevator.
“Everything is running off the app,” Mizrahi says, “Luxury today is not measured just in terms of craftsmanship any more. It’s customization (of a living experience) to your unique, individual wishes and dreams, using tech in a symbiotic way between you and your home.”
Residents don’t choose their appliances until 12 months before moving in (The One residences don’t open until 2023), so a lot of the gadgets that came out of CES 2019 will be available to residents at that point.
TOP HOME TECH AND HEALTH TECH FROM CES 2019
FOR THE HOME
- Appliances: They have been connected to the Internet for a long time, but now they use artificial intelligence (AI) features to operate better. The Whirlpool W Labs smart oven uses object recognition and machine learning to identify what type of food has been placed into the oven and then is able to know how long and at what temperature to cook the food.
- Smart Bathroom: Kohler showed off the bathroom of the future with a connected bathroom mirror, a connected toilet and shower system. Connected lighting allows for scene customization.
- Clothing Care: Several companies making connected clothes washers and dryers also showed off products designed to fold laundry after it’s dried. The company Foldimate showed off its laundry-folding robot.
- Connected LED Wall Panels: Smart lighting has become a popular product category and has given rise to LED lighting that hangs on the wall. This is a new twist on lighting and gets consumers thinking about lighting as art or home décor. It is controllable via a smartphone app.
FOR YOUR HEALTH
- Productivity Tech: Sleep Tech has become a mainstay at CES. Sleep Number showed off its system for analyzing every part of a person’s sleep experience with the aim of helping them get a more restful night’s sleep. There were also companies focused on concentration. Brainco in South Hall exhibited its brainwave sensing headband (Focus1) which analyzes EEG readings to help users maximize periods of deep concentration.
- Baby Tech: Exhibitor Nanit displayed its camera system for cribs. Using machine learning, the camera is able to give parents vital information on their baby’s breathing patterns and when the child has fallen asleep.
- Technology for Women: Health-related technology products for women especially around making breastfeeding easier and more convenient were much talked about. The company Bongmi showed a smart ovulation tracker.
- Robots: There were robots for multiple purposes at CES 2019. Some were focused on home security, others on companionship. Samsung showed off a robot air purifier that roams throughout the house cleaning the air.
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail’s Globe Content Studio, in consultation with an advertiser. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.