Soon, if a resident at Miami's Grovenor House on the Biscayne Bay needs his car, he'll only have to press a single button on a "wireless concierge" device to call up his automobile. The same goes for residents of Paramount's Royal Palm Communities, Paramount Beach, and Bay projects, where restaurant reservations and restricted social club access are just a button away, thanks to a wireless touchpad panel.

Who's handling all these resident requests? It's not the Jetsons' ever-efficient housekeeper Rosie the Robot. Instead, these examples reveal how a growing number of properties, particularly high-end buildings, are incorporating a wide variety of advanced technologies designed to support and enhance their residents' lifestyle.

Such offerings, particularly in new luxury condos, are getting plenty of ink in developers' and owners' advertising and marketing efforts. Advertisements tout virtual concierges, "electronic" fitness instruction, and high-tech security, sharing equal billing with more traditional amenities such as swimming pools and valet parking.

As Jetsonian as such options may sound, they also are the natural outgrowth of technological advances that are now being applied to the residential sector. The emergence of fiber to the premises (an extension of broadband that promises greater bandwidth for home tech users), plasma TV screens, and smaller, highly functional, and more reliable handheld units, combined with residents' increasing tech savvy, is making it possible–and potentially profitable–for property owners and developers to offer a variety of lifestyle technologies to their residents.

Practical Technology

Some of these new "amenities" are grounded in the all-too-real world. For instance, in this post-Sept. 11 world, security is important to renters and condo owners alike. At Clinton West on New York's West Side, all studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments come with electronic entry systems. These systems, which are basically high-tech locks, allow apartment entries to be monitored via a centralized computer system. In addition to securing the premises, the system offers a convenience to residents: Their doors are easily programmable, eliminating the worry, woe, and locksmith charges of lost keys.

Clinton West also has paid attention to how residents live their lives. Based on those observations and research, the development has concentrated on bringing workplace amenities into the home, an effort that serves the basic needs of a telecommuter or the multiple-computer household. Each apartment unit will be wired so that residents can share printers and computer files throughout their unit, enabling them to say goodbye to messy tangles of wires dangling among different computers. Room outlets will each contain as many as four telephone lines and will be able to accommodate high-definition digital TV as well as DSL or a cable modem.