​Celebrity smart homes: How the rich and famous stay connected

Now that everyone can have a connected crib, how are the stars one-upping us?

When celebrities do smart homes
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Celebrities are no strangers to outlandishly plush homes — Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen have a moat, John Travolta has a runway for his fleet of planes and Will Smith’s gaff even has its own zip code. But now, the rich and famous are kitting their homes out with the latest connected tech.

With affordable systems like Amazon Alexa and Google Home bringing smart home tech to the masses, the celebs need something a little more extravagant for their cribs. Naturally, most of them are sensibly secretive on the details of exactly how their homes are connected, but we’ve managed to track down a few little tidbits of celeb smart home spending.

From early adopters and innovators to security advocates and those who simply have more money than they know what to do with, here are some of the celebs who are already aboard the smart home train…

Celebrity smart homes - how the rich and famous stay connected

Oprah Winfrey

As one of the richest women in the world, you’d expect billionaire Oprah to have some pretty decent tech in her house(s). Her $14m ski home in Telluride, Colorado has all the trappings you’d expect, including a hot tub, home theatre, guest house and er, underground wine mine, complete with an antique mine cart that guests can ride to the humidified booze room. But the five-bedroom house has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

Driveway sensors alert Oprah when someone arrives at the house while the driveway itself is heated to keep snow at bay, reports the LA Times. What’s more, plants can be watered remotely when Oprah is away. Details are thin on the ground but most of the systems in the house are said to be operated by remote-controlled gadgetry. With her considerable influence, if anyone can spread the smart home tech message, it’s Oprah.

Celebrity smart homes - how the rich and famous stay connected

Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg has been having a tough time of it lately, with the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and his grilling by US senators. Still, at least Zuck has Jarvis to talk to. Named after Iron Man’s AI-powered butler J.A.R.V.I.S., Zuckerberg’s version is a similarly AI-powered home assistant, voiced by Morgan Freeman.

Revealed in a Facebook video, which shows Zuckerberg waking up in the same clothes that he wears every single day like some sort of cyborg, Jarvis is installed in the billionaire’s fancy Silicon Valley home and responds to voice and text commands through a specially built app.

The AI butler is used to control a Crestron system that takes care of lights, doors and temperature and it also works with Sonos and Spotify. Jarvis has been programmed to learn useful things, such as the Zuckerbergs’ musical tastes, and recognise nuances in commands. It’ll even prepare Zuck’s breakfast before he gets to the kitchen (the video shows the Facebook chief eating dry toast straight out of the toaster like a complete madman). Sadly, there are currently no plans to make this into a Facebook product, though until Zuck has managed to sort out his data privacy woes, that’s probably for the best.

Celebrity smart homes - how the rich and famous stay connected

Sofia Vergara

Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara clearly has her finger on the pulse. She told CNET that she wanted a no-fuss cable-free home for her villa-style Beverly Hills mansion. And that’s why she opted for smart home systems to take care of security, entertainment and appliances. The Colombian-American actress said she planned to fit large screens in the home, not only for entertainment but also to Skype with her family and also keep up with her 9million+ Twitter followers.

In future, she said she’d like a system that could take care of more chores around the house, including watering the plants and running a bath. She’s a big fan of voice control, but admits that Siri struggles with her Colombian accent. Eventually, she’d like to add a “cute robot butler”, with an English, German or Scottish accent, for some reason.

Celebrity smart homes - how the rich and famous stay connected

Bill Gates

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is unsurprisingly well ahead of the game and has been casually rocking connected household tech for more than 20 years. His Xanadu 2.0 mansion in Medina, Washington state took seven years and $63 million to build, and features all the usual mansion-y stuff like a library, a massive function room and a swimming pool with an underwater music system.

On top of that, there are touchpads in every room for controlling lighting, temperature and music. Visitors to the seven-bedroom house were given wearable devices that connected them to all the smart tech in the house, he revealed in his 1995 book The Road Ahead. The idea being that the settings in each room adjust to the guest’s preferences as they moved through the house.

The house also features massive wall-mounted screens that can flip between favourite paintings and photographs. Oh, and Gates’ favourite maple tree is monitored around the clock by a computer that can give it a water when it’s looking a little parched. The best bit? Most of this was 20 years ago, so heaven knows what kind of secret futuristic kit the tech billionaire has in his lakeside retreat now. We’re just hoping Bill decides to Airbnb it out some time soon so we can take a peek.

Celebrity smart homes - how the rich and famous stay connected

Flo Rida

Singer Flo Rida (real name Tremar Dillard) splashed out a cool $1 million on a smart home in Miami last year, according to the Daily Mail (also main image). The My House singer reportedly nabbed the bargain from his producer, Elric Prince who originally listed the home for $1.6m. Not only did it supposedly come with a basketball court decked out in Miami Heat colours (*heart eyes emoji*) it’s also got Control4 tablets in every room for controlling the air con, window blinds, lighting and music.

Celebrity smart homes - how the rich and famous stay connected

Tamera Mowry-Housley

Who knew that Tamera Mowry-Housley from Sister Sister is a smart home aficionado? You do now. Since starring in the 90s sitcom with her twin sister Tia, Tamera has gone on to become a talk show host and is now a mother of two with a accidental smart house-themed double-barrelled surname after getting hitched to Fox News correspondent Adam Hously.

The Mowry-Housley household runs on Control4 home automation which means that their assistants can enter the house using personalised codes, sending a notification to the bosses so that they know when the staff are there. Along with multi-room audio, Tamera says that she also likes the ability to check the house when they’re away or if she hears a noise during the night, using connected security cameras. She also cites the ‘Goodbye’ button - which can be tapped to turn everything off when leaving the house — as a favourite feature. No word as yet on Tia’s feelings on smart home tech.

Celebrity smart homes - how the rich and famous stay connected


OK, we don’t know exactly what smart home tech the musician and sometime tech entrepreneur Will.i.am has in his home, but he did recently buy floundering smart home platform Wink so we assume he's got one of those in his crib. So far, it’s business as usual, with no word on if and/or how the chart-topping producer intends to breathe some new life into the venture, which enables you to control all your compatible smart home tech from a central hub and app.

Will.i.am has previously launched a number of experimental tech products with varying degrees of success, including a preposterous $300 iPhone case, the doomed Puls smartwatch and the gigantic Buttons earbuds. Could the punctuation maverick soon be in charge of your smart home? It’s a chilling thought.

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