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What the CEO says: 'Our homes are outsmarting us'

Each Friday, Robbie Briggs, president and CEO of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, writes about luxury, trends, business and more in the advertising pages of the Mansion section of The Wall Street Journal. Below is his letter of October 23, 2020.

From My Perspective

Catching up to George and Jane

Our homes are outsmarting us.

I think that’s a good thing. Technology for the house has come a long way from intercom systems and programmable thermostats. The new smart homes aren’t just more efficient, they are also contributing to our everyday enjoyment — and to our health.

Consider these growing trends:

Smart kitchens: This is a major quality-of-life movement. Besides smart appliances that you can remotely schedule and control, imagine a smart refrigerator that can tell you, also remotely, what’s stored in it and when that milk will expire. Some can help you plan a meal, manage your calendars, play music while you cook and let you know when the laundry’s done.

Smart bathrooms: Connected air fresheners, ventilation systems and showers and tubs are becoming must-haves, as are digital showerheads equipped with speakers for music and LED lights to indicate safe water temperature.

Smart sprinklers: A smart watering system can be programmed and controlled remotely, to help maximize water-usage efficiency and minimize expense.

Smart security systems: Today’s monitoring systems can watch over everything, and may include remote-controlled door locks and water sensors, which can alert you to surprises like leaks or a burst pipe.

Whole-home Wi-Fi: Also called mesh Wi-Fi, these sophisticated routers can extend your wireless network and help optimize traffic with your numerous active devices.

And here’s a fascinating concept, written about by Verywell Health, an online resource for health information on medical topics: “Imagine a home where your shower runs a quick, non-invasive health check when you step in, and your bed is equipped with sensors that detect any signs of ill health. Collected data gets shared across different home devices (or forwarded to your chosen health professional) and provides alerts to ensure your health is not compromised. These scenarios are now becoming reality.”

Isn’t it amazing? This is technology we can really use. Many of the homes we represent are already smart — from simple systems to sophisticated ones — and they’re getting smarter, all the time.

Funny, one of the smartest homes I know was actually created in 1962, just two years after my dad founded what has become Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty. It featured a robotic vacuum, talking alarm clock, video phone, even a “televiewer,” a wall-mounted screen that would beam the day’s news, with images that would move and text that would update.

Who knew, that almost 60 years later — and in the time our brokerage has been in business — we’d all finally be catching up to the Jetsons.

Robbie Briggs

President and CEO

Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty


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