Eleven years ago, seventeen-year-old Greenwich native Jonathan Geller began surreptitiously reporting on the latest technology innovations before they hit the market. He would go on to found the technology news website, Boy Genius Report (BGR), and become a major market influencer on the latest electronics and gadgets.
Geller explains that his love affair with technology happened “sort of by accident” when he dropped out of Greenwich High School as a sixteen-year-old sophomore to answer the insistent call of hip-hop music. “Back then, I was way more into music than school,” he explains. In Atlanta he immersed himself in the burgeoning hip-hop scene under the tutelage of Scooter Braun, fellow Greenwich native and Justin Bieber manager.
But Geller’s plans skipped a beat when his connections to music insiders had technology companies slipping him hot prototypes (think the latest Blackberry, when Blackberries were actually hot commodities) before their official release dates. His then-anonymous blog about his discoveries for AOL developed such a following that he eventually founded BGR. Geller sold the site to Penske Media in 2010 for a deal reportedly worth several million dollars. Remaining BGR editor-in-chief, he now focuses less on the bottom line and more on the savvy content that claims 11 million unique views a month.
It stands to reason that the backcountry Greenwich home of the newly married twenty-eight-year-old was upgraded to anticipate his every want and need with the touch of his iPhone—from opening the bedroom shades to syncing his sprinklers with technologically transmitted weather forecasts. Naturally, his doors lock and unlock by intuitively recognizing his comings and goings.
The renovation was conceived with an eye to discreetly integrating technology “without making the place seem like a tech lab.” Yes, even Boy Genius has his limits. “I’m kind of old-school when it comes to the kitchen,” he confesses. “I like to grind my coffee beans myself.” So while his morning joe isn’t brewed in sync with an app that senses he’s awake (although he notes it could be), the rest of his transitionally styled home is well-appointed with ultra-smart creature comforts.
Super-cool technology isn’t just for inside the home. One of the hottest new products featured by Geller and his staff is an outdoor grill controlled by voice activation or the touch of a smartphone.
Geller’s home technology essentials
These motorized shades, which Geller notes are “surprisingly affordable,” open and close on the command of a smartphone app. Of all the techie features he’s installed at home, Geller says “these are my favorite. It’s kind of a kick to open them in the morning to let some sun in without getting out of bed.”
BONUS: No annoying or dangerous strings to pull.
HIDDEN WI-FI ACCESS POINTS
“For someone like me, Wi-Fi is a big deal.” Having portals built into walls throughout the house and stashed behind art solved spotty cellular issues without adding eyesores.
RACHIO SPRINKLER SYSTEM
No need to schedule this intuitive, automated lawn irrigation system because it syncs with the weather forecast to determine when—and for how long—to drench the lawn.
SAMSUNG SMART THINGS HUB
By connecting everything from light switches to keyless entry systems to this smart portal, doors lock and lights turn off whenever Geller heads outside with his iPhone in tow.
Geller’s tips on domestic technological enhancements just about anyone can—and should—consider installing
PHILIPS HUE LIGHTBULBS
At less than twenty dollars each, Geller says these bulbs, which allow lights to be switched on and off via an app, are among the most cost-effective technology upgrades on the market and can save hundreds on electric bills. The lights can also be programmed to change color for added ambiance.
“Most people don’t know how to program their thermostats, but there are some terrific ones out there that do the job for you.” He recommends models by Nest and Honeywell.
These reasonably priced home surveillance systems are a great way to “know what’s going on at home when you’re not there.” Geller has several at his place.
SONOS HIFI WIRELESS SPEAKERS
For an investment of between $150 and $500, a home can be outfitted with indoor and outdoor speakers that respond to a smartphone app, playing your favorite playlists on demand. “Years ago, doing the same thing would have cost $20,000,” says Geller.
A FEW OF HIS FAVORITE THINGS
The innovations that have Geller’s attention right now
1 NON-COMBUSTIBLE CARS
“I just turned in my Mercedes for a Tesla,” says Geller, who envisions a future with “no gas, no combustion” and cars so brainy, “my kids won’t have to learn how to drive.”
2 IPHONE 6S
While Geller confesses an overall weakness for “all things Apple,” his omnipresent phone is “simply the smartest phone ever made.” “I run my entire business from my phone; pay for things with Apple pay. It’s the one thing I absolutely couldn’t live without.”
3 APPLE TV
“It is all app- based, which I love. You can go to CNN and watch it live, or dig into the archives and watch something old.
4 APPLE WATCH
“I think wearable technology is going to continue to be a huge trend. If you don’t care that much about your phone, this watch does it all and it’s right there on your wrist. You can track your fitness, monitor your health and access your apps.”
Apple watch by istockphoto.com/duckycards