Actress Sofia Vergara of “Modern Family” is making her iPhone the remote control to the super smart home she’s building.
Sofia Vergara, who plays a homemaker in the hit TV sitcom “Modern Family,” admits she’s not the savviest tech user. But as a founding member of Latin World Entertainment, which is a partner inCNET en Español, the Spanish-language version of CNET, she’s surrounded by tech. And she’s become so enthusiastic about how much control an iPhone puts in the palm of her hand that she’s designing a new home she can control from her smartphone.
“I want a smart home that doesn’t make me feel stupid dealing with a million remotes and gadgets and electric cords,” says the actress, 42. “It’s all about simplifying my life.”
Vergara’s home will include Internet-controlled, top-of-the-line security and monitoring systems, every smart appliance she can find and “the coolest entertainment system,” built around a large-screen TV for watching movies, keeping up with her more than 7 million Twitter followers, scrolling through photos beamed to her phone and Skype-ing with her son.
Even with all that tech, Vergara says it’s not yet her dream home. It’s still missing a “cute butler robot,” vending machines that serve up her favorite cuisines — and a digital voice assistant that can understand what she says. That’s because she can’t activate all those smart systems through Siri voice commands. Apple’s digital voice assistant has a hard time deciphering her Colombian accent. “Siri hates me,” she jokes.
Vergara discussed her smart-home plans, her smartphone addiction and the other smart gadgets in her life with Connie Guglielmo, CNET’s editor in chief for news.
Q: What made you decide you wanted a smart home?
I am not the techiest person in the world. I am a lazy disaster. I don’t have patience to deal with instructions — to figure out the inputs of 10 devices to watch a movie, go to cable, open a gate or play music. All I want is to have a touch pad, no buttons and no cables, all wireless — control in the palm of my hand. And hopefully I can even activate with my voice — in a Latin accent, of course — any electric appliance or security feature in my new home. In other words: I want a smart home that doesn’t make me feel stupid dealing with a million remotes and gadgets and electric cords. It’s all about simplifying my life.
I want, in the palm of my hand, the power to turn on my Apple TV after watching the news live, and then also check my social media on a gigantic TV. Then revise my schedule, make sure the house alarm is on and turn my bedroom into a nightclub if I want by screaming “Party time!” — blasting my music in any soundproof room without the neighbors calling the police.
Q: What do you want your house to do for you? How smart is smart enough?
My dream of the perfect smart home would [be one that] never locks us out because it recognizes us — keyless, by our voices or faces — adapts to turn on sprinklers so we have the most amazing lawn and plants, activates the Jacuzzi at the perfect temperature after I finish my workout in a smart gym that monitors my body fat, muscle mass and activity, and allows me to scream in my living room: “Please show me my day tomorrow.”
And if I curse, [it would] dim the lights, prepare my bubble bath and play a Pitbull song. I know that would be difficult, especially because of my accent. Siri hates me. But what we are aiming for, really, is a cool, smart house with top-of-the-line security and monitoring systems — wireless, buttonless — with the coolest entertainment systems and smart appliances that can be easily managed.
Q: What won’t your smart home have that you hope you can add later?
A cute butler robot with a British or German or Scottish accent that cleans around the house, offers you drinks, and reminds you of stuff, something like the female robot in “The Jetsons.” That would be a dream.
It would be cool, too, if I could send it outside to create some sort of hologram image of me to appear everywhere and prank the paparazzi. If that exists, please text me the link to buy it!
Q: What kind of an entertainment system are you putting in?
We are considering either the Sony x900, 85 inches tall, or the LG 3D that is curved. I like the fact that today you don’t have to get a sound system since speakers are part of the TV. I am told I could watch everything and anything upscaled to 4K quality — even see my iPhone pictures on that large screen with a 4K resolution.
I can Skype with my son and we could enjoy movies “together,” and also follow tweets and watch TV at the same time. The social media part is awesome since I can tweet choosing a hashtag and see those comments flowing across the screen. I can also control or stream wirelessly whatever I have on my phone or iPad.
Q: What one new feature are you most looking forward to having in your new house?
We have a great viewing room ready for a cool home theater and can’t wait to have the biggest screen available. And a system that would enable me to watch all formats, like 4K, and throw amazing viewing parties and also connect to my social media, allowing me to go over fans’ posts, even scripts … We are still deciding which one to pick. Maybe your editors and your readers can suggest me the best through social media?
Q: Which smartphone do you use? Are you addicted to your smartphone?
I am definitely a Mac girl — iPhone, iPad and Apple TV kind of person. My addiction to my smartphone is mainly to connect to fans, family and friends — also to work. Well, I admit I’m a heavy, heavy user. I can’t live without it. Most of the news, music I listen to, work and social interaction in my life, goes through my smartphone.
Q: Do you drive a smart car, one of the new cars that links with your smartphone and helps you park and avoid accidents?
My cars are smarter than me … and that annoying hyperactive beeping of proximity has saved me from denting my car a million times. I love the cameras to park, car Internet — and I can’t live without a GPS. I have no idea how I lived without GPS either from my phone or the car itself.
Q: How much technology do you carry around with you every day? Smartphone, tablet, computer?
All of the above in that order, but my tablet replaces the computer most of the time.
Q: What’s your favorite gadget?
My phone with its social media apps: Instagram especially. I absolutely love WhatsApp — my family chat group is something I look forward to every day. I’m starting to use WeChat, too.
Q: What smart-home feature do you wish existed that doesn’t yet?
Colombian and Italian fresh homecooked vending machines for the kitchen and a fun robot trainer that would literally kick me out of the bed and take me to the gym — and then give me a massage.