The Digital Home of 2027

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The Digital Home of 2027

Our homes are a reflection of who we are, what we need, and what technologies can do to meet those needs cost-effectively. Looking ahead 20 years, we can say with some certainty that Americans will be older, richer, and more security-conscious.

We’ll need:

  • Better monitoring of our health condition.
  • Ways to reduce the amount of work we have to put into maintaining our homes.
  • Even more entertainment options.
  • A high degree of safety and security.

Technologically, it’s fair to say that the price performance of CPUs, bandwidth, and data storage will be at least 10,000 times better than it is today. That means that low-cost networked computing will be buried within almost every appliance, toy, and tool. And, because of networking, every appliance could take advantage of the home’s computing power, sensors, or media connection. As we’ll discuss, three of the biggest areas of technological progress will be as follows:

Smart appliances will eliminate the drudgery of kitchen chores, including ordering groceries, preparing meals, and cleaning dishes.

Robots will perform many housekeeping duties, from vacuuming floors to folding laundry.

Digital wallpapers, paints, and fabrics will enable us to redecorate our homes in real time.

First, let’s talk about smart appliances and the digital home. The home of the future will include systems that control all of the home’s computing, media, lighting, heating and cooling, and security. More than 20 years ago, the early PCs could work with X-10 controllers or similar technologies to control the lighting and appliances in a home. It never really caught on because of the effort required to integrate and coordinate all of the “dumb” appliances.

However, the appliances of 2027 are going to be “intelligent.” And they’ll be able to carry on a continuous dialogue with other appliances in the home. Standards will be developed to ensure that the communication is seamless and unambiguous.

Obviously, a crucial component of such a network would be the HVAC and plumbing systems. To give us an idea of how that might work, General Electric has developed its own vision of the home of the future. On its Web site, GE describes a Total Environment Control Unit, which would be a single device that would heat and cool the home, plus use reverse osmosis water purification to filter the home’s drinking water.

Because computers are getting so small, inexpensive, and ubiquitous, the PC as we’ve known it will essentially disappear from the home of 2027...

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