By Josh Myler

Thirty years ago, in his Sci-fi thriller Blade Runner, Ridley Scott introduced us to what Los Angeles might be like in the year 2019. Some consider it to be the most ingenious sci-fi picture of all time. What was so compelling about Scott’s characterization of the future, was its authenticity. Part of that authenticity came from little nuances that many of the other film makers, of the time, over-looked. In one scene, for example, Harrison Ford’s character, Deckard, casually walks into his apartment and turns on all of the systems (e.g. lights, sound) by voice automation. This was imaginative and cool because it wasn’t a facet of everyday life most people considered to be possible.

Today, those little nuances have become big business and are surely an integral part of life, as we know it. We are now more directly and more seamlessly connected (and in control) of the tools we use every day. Today we can remotely control our lights, televisions, security systems, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, home audio systems and even our kitchen appliances from anywhere around the world via mobile device. Home automation saves time, energy and money (on utility bills, for one). It also enhances our quality of life. You can turn on your lights from several miles away. You can even program your thermostat to kick on as you wait for your bag at carousel number 4, ensuring a comfortable climate upon your return.

825-Berkeley-03One of the many companies providing this type of home automation, and arguably today’s best, is Control4. And it is the system the developers of 825 Berkeley Street, The Agency’s new Santa Monica listing (photo at right), chose as their go-to to help make their home one of the smartest in town.

Control4 distinguishes itself from some of the others, through the concept of controlling rooms, rather than the equipment within a room. In the Control4 model, devices that produce music or video for example are not limited to belonging to the room in which they’re physically located. Instead, systems are located centrally and accessed remotely, via mobile device (e.g. iPad, iPhone, etc.)

In the “old days,” to watch a movie on DVD, we had to turn on the television and choose an input on the TV (e.g. INPUT 1) to view the DVD player. Then the DVD player had to be turned on, the movie loaded, and off we finally went, into popcorn land. If we wanted to watch that movie in surround sound, we’d have to push yet another button on the receiver or amplifier.

Using Control4, we simply pick up a remote, designate a specific room, press “WATCH” and “DVD” and the rest happens, automatically. Now, saving us two or three steps may not sound like moving mountains, but when multiplied across 825 Berkeley’s 12+ interior spaces and its multitude of systems, wired throughout the house, the concept begins to reveal its benefits. In other words, being able to access any DVD, song, level of volume, temperature or lighting (to name a few) from any room inside or outside the house, makes living in that house pretty nice.

When I was a kid I remember my father bringing home our first home stereo system. Up until that point, our only “stereo” was a beat-up old boom box that my older brother left in the kitchen. It was the summer of 1982 (the same year Blade Runner was in theaters) and I remember my father researching and talking about this thing called a B&O for months leading up to its arrival. I’ll never forget when he brought it home from the electronics store. It felt like Christmas, in the middle of July. He and my brother lugged the box into the living room, and we all gathered around and watched as my father opened it and carefully pulled out each component. It was as if he was unearthing the Lost Ark.

The system was a Bang & Olufsen Beocenter – their latest innovation. To us, it might as well have been from outer space. I’d never seen anything like it before. It was a thin, shiny, black rectangle and had compartments that opened thermally, when you ran your fingers over specific spots on its surface. It seemed as if there would never be better system or a cooler design. We’ve come a long way since. And, each year, we take another leap forward towards Ridley Scott’s vision of tomorrow.

825 Berkeley is just one example of what’s a happening out there. A good one I might add.

A really good one.


Our Agents’ Corner features posts written by our agents and management team about a broad range of topics, from thoughts on the real estate industry to commentary on everything but real estate, including entertainment, art, charity, food, sports and more. All views shared are those of the writer, unfiltered.