High tech in the home


The only thing more relentless than the pace at which technology evolves is the pace at which it becomes commonplace. Take home automation, for example. The ability to control everything from your home’s security system to the temperature of your oven with your voice was once the stuff of science fiction.

Today, you can do all of that with a Google home mini. And they are literally giving those away with Spotify subscriptions, like a toy in a cereal box.

Knowing that this revolutionary technology has become as commonplace as indoor plumbing to the average person, imagine what quantum leaps in tech the upper crust are privy to. As it happens, when it comes to the most luxurious of upgrades, the trend is not to find that next bleeding edge, but to make that technology more beautiful.

“We went through a phase 20 years ago when showing off your new tech was the thing – think big speakers and big TVs,” said Sean Stewart, sales and marketing manager for Custom Audio Video in Bluffton. “As tech has gotten smaller, we now want it less visibly obtrusive.”

Stewart highlights several ways that the company has found to conceal technology, from speaker grills printed to blend seamlessly into wallpaper to television sets concealed behind retractable works of art. The Media Décor line by Leon offers everything from classical works of the old masters to bold photography of rock and roll icons that slide to one side when you’re ready to enjoy the show.

“Just because this is a TV room doesn’t mean it has to look like a TV room,” he said.

As this new technology takes over day-to-day operations of the home, it paradoxically adds more complexity to our lives. Anyone who has ever attempted to network their own TV, gaming system, alarm system, lighting, automated shades and thermostat knows you’re often left with a snarl of Band-Aid solutions to get all of these things to work together.

That’s why, for those who want to marry luxury and technology, simplicity is king.

“If you get into a high-end system… lighting, cameras, security, thermostat, they need to fluidly work together,” said Curt Hubner, owner of Bluffton-based Advanced Integrated Controls. “I’m not going to hand a client a phone full of apps.”

Rather than one app to control each component of the technologically advanced home, Hubner creates a level of automation designed to work seamlessly in the background, what he calls “events.”

Setting off a motion detector in the master suite during the nighttime hours, for example, will cause the ensuite lights to illuminate just enough to facilitate a late-night bathroom break.

“That’s what real automation is,” he said, “My job is to give you one app and make things work the way they should, while still giving (you) some control… Automation should be a community. Things should work together.”

One room of the home that only briefly flirted with this kind of automation is the kitchen. For a time, “smart” fridges would automatically populate your grocery list, while “smart” ovens could be turned on from your phone. Ultimately, and especially as recent events have given us more time in the home, the kitchen has become less of a place for technology and more of a place for human connection around a meal.

“We don’t get a lot of requests for (connected appliances),” said Brantley King, owner of Billy Wood Appliances, based on Hilton Head Island.

Instead, she sees the big impact technology has had on luxury homes is its ability to scale down a commercial kitchen and put it into the home. One great example is the Salamander by Blue Star, a full-on commercial broiler for the home.

“Bobby Flay has one. It’s a little more commercial for the home. Real chefs love them,” she said. “It’s the same type of broiler you’d find in high-end steak places.”

She also sees a rise in modular outdoor kitchens, like the Kalamazoo line that lets you mix and match everything from a Brazilian steakhouse-style rotisserie to a pizza oven.

“Everybody loves to cook outside,” she said.

Ultimately, technology has made it a more connected and networked world for even the average family. For those who live the good life, making things more luxurious means making them work for you.


Luxury can be found in our methods of transportation. Here’s a look at some super technology in cars:

GPS-Based Air Conditioning: The Acura RLX has a three-zone air conditioning system that uses an array of solar sensors and GPS data to determine how much sun each part of the car is receiving, which adjusts the temperature automatically.

Night Sight: The BMW 7 series has long been the standard bearer for cool tech, and the 2020 adds to the already standard night vision with adaptive LED headlights that use a dedicated spotlight to illuminate obstacles in the road ahead.

Alexa Integration: If you’re ready to go full Hasselhoff and control your car with your voice, the Lamborghini Huracan is leading the way with Amazon Alexa integration. More than simply making and receiving calls, the AI assistant in the Huracan lets you control the climate, scout out a destination or play music with a simple command.