Here at T3 we get sent a lot of research by brands. Some of it is very interesting – a surprising amount of it relates to sex toys – but smart home brand Somfy has really surpassed itself with this round-up of the smart home tech used by some of the tech and entertainment worlds' biggest hitters.
Needless to say, the likes of Kim Kardashian, Mark Zuckerberg and the Jay-Z and Beyoncé power couple do not settle for a few Hue bulbs and an Alexa speaker or two. No, they are living a life more like what we've seen in Black Mirror episodes or the movie Ex Machina. But hopefully without the nightmarish and murder-related elements of those.
Modern smart home tech means everyone can get on the home automation bandwagon, but for a glimpse of the future – or perhaps just inspiration for your own smart home – take a look at these high-tech modern mansions.
The smart home device specialists at Somfy (opens in new tab) have studied the latest technologies that top stars are incorporating into their homes. Here we go…
Beyoncé and Jay-Z
According to Somfy, the Bel Air home of the golden couple of hip-hop, R&B and getting business done boasts 'doors made of lizard skin and a helipad on the roof.' So far, so standard.
The windows have electric blinds and curtains, which is all very well, but rather more impressively the windows 'retract into the wall with a touch of a button', giving the Crazy In Love singer and her husband easy access to the balconies – doors are so last century. Oh, and the windows are all bullet proof too, apparently.
However, impressive though the window arrangements may be, the really impressive smart home 'devices' in this home are the toilets. These, Somfy tells us, 'automatically open, flush, and close using sensors.' Imagine that! They are also described as 'tankless', although it is not clear if they use mains water pressure to flush or some sort of suction system. This is possibly the biggest insight into a celebrity toilet that we've ever seen.
The cameras and alarm systems used throughout the space are cutting-edge, Somfy further assures us.
Will Smith has recently been getting jiggy with his property portfolio, by adding a $2.5 mansion on wheels to it. This luxury high-tech RV – a motor home the size of a truck – has 1200 square feet of floor space, and a steering wheel. The state-of-the-art tech inside is even more impressive than Jay-Z's toilet.
Somfy says that Smith is able 'to transform the vehicle into a double-decker mansion on wheels with just the touch of a button.' As you can see above, the RV’s walls extend outwards and upwards, creating space equivalent to 'almost five regular trailers.'
Will's big willebago style also features a conference and screening room with electric blinds and no fewer than 14 TV screens, some of which 'pop out from unexpected places', such as the make-up mirror.
Our favourite element of this Fresh Prince of Bel-Airstream (Airstream is a type of motor caravan!) is that the mirrored doors, at least according to Somfy, 'open to the sound of the Star Trek soundtrack.' Wouldn't it make more sense if they opened to the sound of the doors in Star Trek? Yes it would. 'Hisssss.'
There are also automatic blackout blinds and a steam shower that has glass that can turn opaque on demand. Sadly there is no word on what sort of toilet the hip-hop star turned actor has in his relaxation lorry, but we imagine it's probably state of the art.
No, this isn't a small town in rural America; it's Bill Gates' house. When he's not enraging anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists, the retired Microsoft magnate holes up at a Washington mansion that 'comes complete with an external, estate-wide server system.' This is required due to the sheer 'abundance of gadgets' in the Gates abode.
This means Gates and his guests can use their phones to choose their preferences for temperature and lighting in different parts of the mansion. Presumably if guests choose different temperatures and lighting ambiences to Bill, he is able to override their choices. After all, nobody wants to be at the mercy of a house guest who likes all the rooms to be at 30ºC, and lit with lurid, green light.
Thanks to floor sensors and a wealth of TV screens and loudspeakers, you can also start watching a TV show or listening to a playlist in one room, move to another area of the house, and have the show or song 'follow you' – even to the pool!
As you'd imagine, security is next level. Those floor sensors also enable the security system to know who is in the house based on weight. Any intruder could immediately be located and tracked, in the rather unlikely event they were able to gain entry in the first place. At this point, Bill may very well be able to release a pack of robot dogs with laser guns for heads in order to accost the interlopers, but we don't know this for sure.
Speaking of robots, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also has a high-tech pad. His San Francisco smart home tech is all bespoke and NOT available to you. Famously, Zuck, who was recently to be seen waving an American flag while crossing a lake on a robot surfboard, has a personal AI butler called Jarvis. He is named, of course, after Jarvis Cocker, the lead singer of Pulp. Or possibly the home AI from the Iron Man films.
Jarvis acts like a less irritating Alexa, adjusting lighting and heating. It can 'even get breakfast ready if linked to a smart toaster,' according to Somfy. Jarvis also gives voice reminders of calendar meetings, and notifies the Facebook CEO if guests arrive, or if 'there’s an intruder in the house.' So that's nice.
Mark's closest friends don't even need to wait for him to come and open the door; smart cameras with facial recognition mean they can pop in any time they like. Really? Okay. Not sure we'd want that at our house, but you do you, Mark.
Somfy also adds that Zuckerberg can 'text any command to the AI, which is particularly convenient when he’s already on his phone or he doesn’t want to disturb others around him.' What a thoughtful chap he is. While Jarvis will remain Mark's own personal home automation system for now, he doesn't exclude the possibility of creating a version for you, the general public, in the future.
All the above rather pales in comparison to what the Queen of the Kardashians has in her home, however: a sink that doesn't splash, even if you run the tap really strongly. At last, an end to wetting your pants while trying to clean your hands!
As ever, there are also electric curtains, automatic light dimmers and a bedroom TV that's hidden in the floor. At the touch of a button, it rises silently up.
Even better, Billionaire Kim's $60 million Calabasas mansion was built in a ‘futuristic Belgian monastery’ style, and the floor is so posh that if it gets scratched, she has to fly in a load of European experts to mend it!
Kevin Van Der Steen, Product Manager at Somfy barks: “The celebrities’ smart homes research offered us some great inspiration on how we can take home automation a step further. Whilst most of us won’t be adopting underwater speakers, AI butlers or tankless toilets anytime soon, there are certainly many affordable automation options on the market that can still make our homes smarter. Whether that’s purchasing a smart speaker, investing in electric blinds or adding an extra layer of security with one of our
Thanks to Somfy for these insights into the homes, lifestyles and toilets of the rich and famous.
• Take a look at some Somfy smart alarm systems (opens in new tab) before you go.