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How many times each day does your mind drift to what life would be like if you were rich? Five? Ten?
For most of us, a wealthy life would be a work-free one. To use up that free time, you’d fill your home with all your favorite things from entertainment to athletic facilities.
What exactly is in this epic smart house?
About Bill Gates’ Home
As every one-of-a-kind creation should, Bill Gates’ house has a name. He calls it Xanadu 2.0, which is a Citizen Kane reference.
The house spans a whopping 66,000 square feet in a Seattle suburb. It should come as no surprise that the behemoth took seven years to build.
What may be surprising is how much the home (or compound, more accurately) has increased in value. Gates built the home for around $60 million. Today it’s valued at over $127 million.
The Smart Technology in Bill Gates’ Home
There’s no shortage of noteworthy items in the Gates house, from a massive gym to a separate pool building. As self-confessed tech geeks, though, we’re most interested in his smart technology.
Control That Moves With You
When most people think of “a connected home,” they think of a home with connected systems. In Xanadu 2.0, the home is connected to you too.
Each person who comes into the home gets an electronic PIN to attach their clothes. This pin lets the home know where you are at all times.
No, it’s not for spying purposes. Your pin stores your preferences like ideal temperatures, music volumes, lighting levels, and more. As you travel through the home, the house adjusts each area to meet your preferences.
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s lived with another person and has never argued about decor. We all have our own tastes, and there’s not a way to compromise and put both people’s favorite pictures in the same place.
At least that’s the case if you aren’t Bill Gates. Instead of traditional artwork, his home is decorated with high-tech screens. Each person can change the paintings and photos any time they walk into the room.
The artwork is stored in the system so it makes it easy to craft the room to your tastes. Plus, imagine how easy it would be to decorate for special events and holidays.
Bill Gates is someone who appreciates the musical arts. He’s set up his home so that every room and even every hallway has a speaker system.
Remember that handy pin we mentioned earlier? If you have music playing, it will follow you from room to room without any extra clicks on your part.
What’s even better than speakers that follow you? Invisible speakers that follow you.
The speakers throughout the Gates home are behind the wallpaper. The only way you know they’re there is from the sweet sounds flowing from them.
Gates designed his home this way because he wanted his home to feel like a home: not a high-tech office. The idea is that you get the convenience of the technology without it being in your face at all times.
Anyone who lives with a techie and their endless cables can appreciate this.
Heated floors are a mark of luxury in today’s homes. They’re rare to find because of their expense. When you do find them, though, you fall in love after a single morning of not stepping onto a shockingly cold floor.
Bill and Melinda Gates did this far before the rest of the world’s elite hopped on board. They’ve taken it to the extreme, too.
Throughout their huge home, all the Gates’ floors are heated from below. Even their driveway is heated. Not only is this easier on bare feet but it keeps the driveway from freezing during frigid Seattle winters.
As you’ve already read, the Gates love their entertainment. That’s why their movie nights are like no other.
Xanadu 2.0 features its own home movie theater. It has seating for 20 in the form of cozy chairs that look like everyone’s favorite recliner.
Missing your favorite movie snack from your local theater? The Gates’ theater has its own popcorn machine for your enjoyment.
For the most part, Bill and Melinda Gates use their smart home technology for convenience and entertainment. However, they also prioritize the planet in their dream home.
One of the most notable ways the Gates keep their high-tech home eco-friendly is by using the earth itself. The house is partially built into the earth around it. That acts as natural insulation so the home is more efficient to heat and cool.
Of course, we shouldn’t be too surprised considering how much the Gates do for the environment. Still, the energy-efficient design was all but unheard of when the Gates broke ground around 1990.
High-Tech Garden Care
Let’s stick with the green theme for a moment. When you see an aerial view of the Gates home, you may be shocked at how much greenery you see. It isn’t what you’d expected from what may be the most advanced smart house in the world.
The Gates take great care to cultivate gardens and plant life throughout their property. They even created their own stream and populated with fish.
Where nature and technology come together is Bill Gates’ treasure maple tree. The tree has been around for at least four decades, and today it sits near the Gates’ driveway.
To make sure the aging tree gets the care it needs, Gates set up its own monitoring system. The computer tracks the tree’s hydration at all times. If the hydration gets below a certain level, it triggers an automatic watering system.
We mentioned above that while Xanadu 2.0 has a well-connected speaker system, you’ll never see it. Gates took that theme of hidden technology to even greater heights.
In the legendary home, the electrical outlets are all hidden, as are the phone jacks. You can find them when you’re ready to plug in but at a glance, all you see is a clean surface.
Old School Innovation
Most of the technology in the Gates home is as advanced as it gets. Who knows how much new innovation the family has added since they last spoke publicly about their smart home?
There are some types of unique features that go back farther, though.
The Gates mansion houses a massive library full of unique pieces and even a DaVinci manuscript. The techies in us love the rotating bookcases, though.
There are two hidden rotating bookcases in the Gates library. One of them turns into a bar. After all, does it even count as reading classic literature if you aren’t sipping brandy?
Notice that we only mentioned what one of the rotating bookcases leads to. What about the other one? There’s no public record of what it’s hiding, so it’s a mystery that remains today.
No More Pausing Problems
Let’s get back to the more high-tech aspects of the Gates home. We mentioned that the artwork in the home is on customizable screens. There are also plenty of screens throughout the house that let you watch your favorite movies or TV shows.
Remember those clever pins that carry your preferences to every room? They also let your viewing favorites follow you throughout the house.
Need a bathroom break in the middle of a great scene? You can watch your show on the way to the bathroom, in the bathroom, and on the way back. That hidden network of speakers ensures that you have high-quality sound the whole time too.
A New Type of Automated Call Forwarding
If you can remember the dark ages before cell phones existed, we all relied on home phones.
Somehow, calls always seemed to come in when you were on the other end of the house. Cue a record-breaking sprint to try to get to the phone on time.
That wasn’t the case at the Gates home. When a call comes in, the system connected to your pins would know where people are in the home. Only the phone nearest to you will ring.
Faster Than the Speed of Light
You might be looking through this list saying, “That’s a ton of tech, and my home’s wifi can barely keep up with the devices I have.”
The Gates keep everything running quickly and smoothly with fiber optic cables. As the most advanced connectivity technology, fiber optic is getting more and more popular.
Even today, though, most fiber providers run the cables to a neighborhood and the residences connect from there. Running direct fiber to the home, or FTTH is still a rarity. The Gates did it before it was cool.
In all honest, fiber may be the only way to create the seamless connectivity they enjoy among all their technology systems.
Swimming in Sound
Have you ever been enjoying a dip in the pool when a great song comes on? You’re torn: if you head underwater and start swimming again you won’t be able to hear your tunes.
That isn’t a problem that exists in the Gates household. Their massive pool building has a full speaker system underwater so you can keep listening during your workout or your game of “Find the Penny in the Pool.”
Most of the tech marvels we’ve mentioned have been in the Gates’ main house. Like any truly luxurious estate, though, they have a guest house too.
Guess what’s all over that guest house? Smart home technology.
In fact, Bill Gates built the guest home first. He used it as a testing ground for the technology he wanted to have in his main house. At the time, these innovations were so unique and cutting-edge that they needed tweaking time.
It’s clear to see that the experiments worked. Today, the Gates’ 1900-square-foot guest house has many of the technological wonders their main home has.
Weight Sensor Security
If you’re thinking of taking a joy ride in that musical swimming pool or playing a movie marathon in the theater, think again. It should come as no surprise that one of the most advanced smart homes has brilliant security systems.
As the saying goes, Bill Gates didn’t put all his eggs in one basket. He has a variety of security measures that protect his family’s safety and privacy.
One feature is particularly unique, though. The floors throughout the home have sensors in them. When someone enters, the system knows who it is by their weight.
As we mentioned above, anyone who is supposed to be in the home will have their pin. If someone comes in without one, the pin system and floor sensors know right away.
We should warn you: if you want to get in the legitimate way, it could be pricey. In the past, Bill Gates has auctioned off private tours of his home for charity. One year, that tour cost $35,000.
The Best Technology Has to Offer
Without a doubt, one of the most impressive parts of Bill Gates’ smart home is that he built it in the 1990s. Back then, smart technology wasn’t a term anyone knew.
We didn’t have the internet on our phones, much less lighting preferences that followed us everywhere.
Bill Gates has had an insight into the future for decades, and his innovative home is one example.
On the hunt to learn more about smart home technology? Check out more articles on our home automation blog.