You know how in every James Bond movie ever, the character Q comes up with the kind of sleek, ahead-of-its-time technology that leaves you sitting there muttering to yourself, “Wow, that’s pretty cool!”? From bio-metric entry systems, to full-on technology infrastructure that protects and perfectly illuminates precious art, to beautifully balanced sound systems for home entertainment, McAuliff may well be the Q of the South Fork.
“We’ve carved out a niche, doing more boutique electronic systems for higher security measures and unique applications,” says McAuliff, who, along with his brother Michael, own Bri-Tech, their Bohemia-based company, which turned 30 mid-pandemic. “We can even see when batteries are low on a remote. We can get that granular,” he says.
Indeed, it’s what has made him one of the most sought-after home and business technology guys in the Hamptons. The notion that he created and built his own automation system called Symbiant, which does everything from turning down lights and music to shutting off a water main in an emergency, adds to the cachet. “We don’t sell Alexas!” he laughs.
When it comes to that particular aspect of his business—privacy—the ease of use with virtual assistants (“Alexa, turn on my living room TV!”) comes at a price, he says. “Once something is in the digital realm, that information you’re getting is being used for an AI chat bot. It’s harvesting existing data on the internet.” Which means your data, too.
Same for other popular bits of technology, like the Ring and Nest. “Your feed is in the cloud and not secure. When you get an almost free piece of Al that needs servers and the cloud, you’re giving up privacy,” he says.
For McAuliff’s higher-end clients, the demand is both in press-a-button individualized technology that gives both that wow feeling of Q-level implements—everything from automatic screened-in porches to voice-controlled shades to wall-sized integrated home entertainment systems—as well as the protection of vital personal data.
“We feel that if you’re in that economic or public space, maybe you don’t want to take a chance and use something meant for the general consumer in order to protect your privacy,” he says. “You’re at a bigger risk of someone being interested in your assets or your family.”
While hyper-high tech personal privacy and tech systems with their own personal towers installed in each home he works on might be the realm of the 2 percent, McAuliff’s work is also in places protecting and showcasing things that matter to everyone, like the Bayport-Bluepoint Library, the Peter Martino Art Foundation in Southampton and the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, where he custom-designs everything from security to aesthetic lighting to safety systems.
“We did all the technology at the Parrish Art Museum when it was built 10 years ago–the fiber optics and security measures, the cameras, audio-video and low voltage technology in there, all updated and maintained by Bri-Tech,” he says.
McAuliff is also the brains on the behind-the-scenes work in the much-anticipated revamp of East Hampton’s Guild Hall.
“We just started Guild Hall,” he says. “We have a little time to go on that, but the front galleries will be open again in late spring. The performing part is just starting. The goal is for it to be done by this time next year. It’s a very thorough job.”
In working on the complete system of a gallery or performing arts center like Guild Hall, there are a multitude of things to consider: finger-print security, fire alarms, specialty locks, lighting and lighting control systems among them.
“Like when you see a piece of art—you may want super custom lighting that sits only on the painting itself, not the frame, to make the image pop out. We do this for private clients, too, with their art and other things people collect if they build a gallery in their home.”
McAuliff’s love of dialed-in techie detail didn’t start in the security sector; it began as a kid who had two big loves: tinkering with electronics and music.
“It was my uncle who showed me how a transistor worked when I was 14; I was an electronics kid before computers. I loved working on CB radios, hand radios and I was really big into hi-fi,” he says. “I was the kind of kid that took my summer camp counselor money and bought a pair of speakers. Remember the Maxell commercial with the guy sitting by the speakers with his hair blown back? That was me.”
By the 1980s, he was deejaying at Long Island clubs by night and building circuit boards by day. That turned into a business doing electronic installation work, creating home energy management systems, and the like. All the while, music and sound remained a steady passion.
When his business turned 30 in 2021, he couldn’t have the kind of celebration he’d hoped, so instead he used his skills to support others, creating PSAs for Long Island Community Hospital, a virtual campfire for the Suffolk County Council for Boy Scouts of America, online galas for not-for-profits—anywhere and anyone who could use his expertise and help to stay afloat. And that’s when his life-long love for music kicked in.
He and a friend created a series of seven online music shows called Long Island Stage promoting local Long Island artists who were unable to perform (and, thus, make a living) when theaters and other public venues were closed. “I did it because I love music, and I wanted to help promote local musicians making original music during Covid,” he says.
Once the pandemic eased, he thought it was over. But the events were so successful, the buzz was to bring it back—only this time, live. It began a partnership with McAuliff and The Suffolk Theater in Riverhead.
Now in its second season, Long Island Stage presents original Long Island acts, each playing a 20-minute set. McAuliff dons a bowler hat and acts as emcee for the evening, and his company donates all the camera, production and transmission work through his side hustle, iStudios TV. The final recording of the shows is donated to the artists to use to promote their work.
“It’s a lot of fun. We’re trying to promote music on a deeper level. If we just replay the old times and don’t do anything for new creators, where does that part of society go?” he says. “We need human creativity. Long Island is a hotbed for culture. This is a way to get our local musicians the respect they deserve.”