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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

High-tech home

Friday, July 2, 2004

Saylan Lukas's living room features a home theater system and unique video game station/end table.

Saylan Lukas walks up to the door and sticks his thumb on a biometric panel. After a couple of seconds, the panel beeps, the door unlocks, and he walks in. As he enters, a small personal digital assistant beeps at him, telling him he has a message.

No, Lukas isn't a secret agent in a summer blockbuster. He's at home in Terre Haute. Lukas is the founder of Saylan Homes, a company that helps customers decide how a high-tech lifestyle can help them best.

A 23-year-old graduate student at Rose-Hulman, Lukas already has a full schedule. When he returns home to relax, however, there's technology (and style) at every turn.

"It's about integrating new technology and creative design into everyday life," he said. "No technology sticking out like a sore thumb."

He got the idea from building homes with his dad, Rod Lukas, over the years. Tired of seeing the "cookie cutter homes that are popping up all over America," Lukas said part of his business plan is to change people's perceptions on what makes a home valuable. Size, he said, is nothing compared to style.

"Does anyone buy a car based on how big it is anymore? No," he said. "People want to know what features it has. GPS (global positioning system), stuff like that. The home market is so far behind everything else."

Lukas uses the Terre Haute home as a model of what his design can do, seamlessly integrating technology into a good design. For instance, the two-bed, three-bath structure features wireless networking availability in every room. There are two home-theater systems -- one in the living room and one in the master bedroom -- and stereo speakers built into the ceiling throughout the house.

The speakers can be controlled by way of panels on the walls or a personal digital assistant, which he also uses as a telephone and instant messaging tool.

"They really bump," he said.

The home also features a biometric lock system, capable of reading a person's thumbprint to allow access.

"It's creative design," he said.

The pool area also utilizes modern technology, featuring built-in speakers by the pool and a decidedly high-tech cabana. Under the white structure's angular roof are a grill built right into a cabinet and a mini-fridge, not to mention satellite and high-speed Internet hook-ups.

His dad built the majority of the furniture in the home, including an inventive end-table that also serves as a video game station. By hiding gaming consoles in the table, he says "wires aren't stretched across the room" as he plays games on the massive television in the living room.

Lukas came up with much of the creative design, painting with vibrant colors and adorning most of the walls with art he himself created.

Saylan Homes does not do actual construction or installation. Instead, the company consults customers on how they can add streamlined, high-tech amenities to their current or upcoming households. Finding a certified, reputable company to do construction is important, Lukas said, and his company helps with that as well.

"You don't want to get charged for a bunch of technology you'll never use," he said. "We want to see what you can use to make your life more comfortable."

His consulting rates range from $25 to $75 an hour, plus a standard "contractor fee" of 15 percent of construction costs. First consultations are free.

Such a home might sound pricey, but Lukas said a middle- to upper-middle class family could afford one. "Like anything else," he said, there's a wide range of more affordable options for a family to consider.

Consulting and contracting are only a part of his plan, however. Lukas is currently talking to potential investors about starting a new business, "Livin' Large Vacation Homes," in the near future. The company would create high-tech homes in vacation states like Colorado and California.

"The sky's the limit," he said. "It's unbelievable what's possible."

Visit www.saylanhomes.com for more information.

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