Smart Thinking: The Latest in Home Technology

NI: What’s Your Tech’s approach to home technology?

Varner: We install electronic systems that can control anything with a button, valve or other interface, from anywhere.


Yes, we can do water too. For example, there is the Bathomatic that allows you to select temperature, bubbles, essential oil scent, and more for your bath. The shower version, iShower, makes controlling shower jets easier. And then there is technology like smart glass that goes from clear to solid or anywhere in-between.

What tech devices are taking home security to the next level?

Cameras with two-way audio allow communication with home occupants or pets. Speaking of pets, there are now automated devices that have laser pointers, give treats, and do all sorts of things. This allows pet owners to leave for their vacation completely guilt-free.

What’s new in advanced lighting control solutions?

In landscaping, we’re now installing color-selectable LED lights that can mimic the effect of moonlit water reflecting off various surfaces. The controls are no longer restricted to lights. We have used lighting keypads for activating a favorite music station, setting spa timers, and raising/lowering motorized shades.

In this Point Royal home, fountain jets and LED lighting create a beautiful water show.

Can you help homes clean themselves?

Yes. We combine robotic vacuums with a self-emptying central vacuum system. After installing hidden docks connected to the central vacuum, we can program [the robotic vacuums] to only clean when you aren’t home, using your phone’s geolocation services. If they detect you approaching home, they return to their docks.

How do you use smartphone controls?

My home monitors when our family members come and go using their phone’s geolocation services. For example, when I arrive home in the evening, it detects the approach of my smartphone, opens the gate to my driveway automatically (and closes it behind me), disengages the electronic door locks, and turns on my favorite music station. It works both ways, locking up and powering down when I leave.

Do you have favorite advances in audio systems?

Underwater speakers are an extremely cool feature for a pool. In terms of audio, quality, rhythm, and melody, they are indistinguishable from normal speakers. The music is actually felt and interpreted in your bones with an underwater speaker. We can get extremely fancy creating programming for light shows, affecting color and even shooting water jets at timed intervals to match the song.

Full lighting and automation controls combine with 2-speaker surround sound to create a smart home-theater experience.

What’s the most technologically forward product you’ve installed for a local client?

A hidden 24-hour security system utilizing weapon, ski mask, and license plate recognition software for the cameras, while at the same time using facial recognition for customization and access control. In this system, doors are secured with electronic locks 24 hours a day, unlocking for authorized users and then returning to a locked state. If a security threat is detected, the home’s motorized hurricane shutters drop.

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