The Future of Home Technology

A home is a place where one lives permanently. As technology has touched on most aspects of our lives, it has also transformed our homes. As technology evolves at an even faster rate, one can expect to see extensive makeovers in both the physical design and features of our homes, such as utilities and devices that provide entertainment within our future living spaces. There are many predictions about how mankind will experience the future. One of the most critical and complex aspects will be our homes. Today’s appliances and entertainment devices give us a taste of what we can expect as we evolve and innovate.

For the most part, technology will be highly assistive. However, there will be devices that will threaten us and our existence. While trying to produce as much profit and innovation as possible, one must also be aware of the risks at hand.

For many years, the idea of the “house of the future” had entered the minds of innovative individuals who used past ideas to forecast the future. Sometimes predictions come true, but sometimes future ideas change their outcomes. For example, in 1956, MIT researchers decided to test plastic homes to see if they would be easier to clean. Additionally, Goodyear researchers worked on air-bubble houses. Just a few decades later, it is clear that neither idea came to be. [1]

Many technologies that we use today around the house were created a long time ago. The first ever programable thermostat was invented in 1885 which allowed the user to set a minimum temperature. By the early 1900s, the user could use a clock to set specific times to turn the furnace on and off.[2] In 1915, the first central vacuum cleaner was created and it immediately began to help those who could afford it to clean their house.[3] With the invention of the Edison phonograph, home stereo and sound systems entered the house.[4]

There are also many technologies that are available today that aren’t prevalent but are still useful. For example, in the United States, there are approximately 6,000 underground or earth sheltered homes. These homes are protected from most natural disasters and because of their location, they allow for secrecy. There are also currently homes built on top of mountains to protect from flooding and houses built on water which allow for easy maneuverability. These houses are equipped with solar panels and solar windows to generate electricity no matter where they are. Another innovation that is now availible is a  smart appliance that communicates with a PC or smart phone app and allow for access while the user is on the go. It also provides for safety with their auto-shutoff systems and notifications.[5]

Several products of the future have already been invented but are either prohibitively expensive or have flaws. Hi-Can is a small room with a bed that has automatic shades and a built-in HD projector, along with full wireless ability to control other devices in a home. The mini washing machine made by Design Lab is portable and can clean clothes without using soap or water. Almighty Board is a digital cutting board. Mo’Sphere is a molecular cooking device that lets you create new foods using concepts from chemistry. The Numi Toilet is a toilet with built-in speakers, lights, and heating. Magic Mirror is a normal mirror with transparent screen that uses Wi-Fi that lets you browse the Web and check the weather while you’re brushing your teeth. Accountable is a speaker and a coffee table in one. Click and Grow lets you grow herbs and flowers indoors using a moisture and heat sensor along with controlled watering technology. Lockitron is a lock installed onto a door that lets the user use their smartphone to lock and unlock the door.[6]

Some technology companies are hosting exhibits to showcase prototypes or ideas for future technology. For example, Gizmodo is currently holding an exhibit for the “Home of the Future” in their SoHo office.[7] Additionally, Google transformed two floors of a Dubai hotel into its “Google House” which includes products such as Nest, Google TV, Google Glass and several other devices.[8]

In the future, entertainment will be everywhere in the house. Speakers will be everywhere and controllable by a smartphone or even a brain. Any song that one wishes to play can be instantly loaded up and blasted throughout the whole house or just played wherever the person is.[9] Every wall in the house will be a light that can be controlled by one’s mood, the news, the time of day, or even what is currently being viewed.[10] Anything that one could possibly think of could be made with out having to wait using a 3D printer. 3D printers will be able to use a variety of materials to even build circuit boards right in the house. This would eliminate the need to go to the store to buy a toy or even a phone because it could be made right in the home. Homes will adapt to their owner’s life style, as well as have the capability of changing on command.[11] Homes will have one dedicated server to control all entertainment. This includes TV, lights, speakers and computers.[12] A user will be able to control everything using their own gestures or their voice. This will allow control of every device, making it easier to get tasks done. A dining room table will have a screen below each place setting to customize the decoration. Whenever one enters a new building or house, a little hovercraft will open the door and guide one to their desired location almost like a butler.[13] Entertainment will have both augmented reality and virtual reality and will be more interactive, One will just have to think about what one wants to see and do, and it will become reality in a nanosecond.[14] When one arrives at home, all of their entertainment will instantly turn on and switch to the user’s setting or presets.[15]

The future will have very smart utilities that will be as eco-friendly as possible to provide a sustained environment. Dwindling resources will encourage people of the world to use less as well. There will be super high-speed internet, such as a gigabit connection, to give internet to the entire world at unbelievable speeds. One will be able to download an entire library of information in less than a second.[16] One will also be able to track all the power used from the smart phone to the air conditioner.[17] Every window in a home or office will be a power generator. Each will have their own power generation station and could be used for power distribution to all your devices in the whole house. This will take everyone off of the grid and will save everyone from paying for electricity.[18] Peel and stick solar panels will make it easier to set up a power generator in a house, and the panels can move just as one moves.[19]

When purchasing appliances in the future, one will not have to decide between price or quality. Rather, they will choose which features best suit them. Smart Toilets will occupy the bathroom and will both monitor activity and entertain.[20] The home of the future will be completely automated with appliances working together. Robots will do simple chores, such as cleaning and organizing. Smart phone apps that interact with the home and perform tasks, such as checking the temperature of a refrigerator, turning on the oven or starting the laundry. Robots will also put food in the oven and clothes in the laundry. They will feed the cat and clean the bathroom.[21] Your coffee maker will know when one has woken up, and it will make  an espresso instantaneously.[22] When an apple is placed on the table or groceries on the floor, the kitchen will recognize exactly what they are. It will keep track of it, tell the user if foods are ripe and give the user statistics about how much and where food is.[23] An internet-connected scale will absorb the day’s activity levels as one goes through their day. Before one goes to bed, a fitness monitoring device will put the information together, and it will log them on a website along with the user’s sleeping activity and health history.[24]

Future homes will be located on other planets. This will most likely take a long time, but eventually we will reach a time when Earth is overpopulated, and humans will begin building homes on the Moon or Mars. These homes will need to be suited to our needs as human beings, and it will need to have many safety precautions in case of emergency. [25] Houses will be much more eco-friendly. They will be movable so the can always accompany the owner. Houses will also be stronger and able to withstand any natural disaster and protect their inhabitants from missiles and other dangerous objects. Homes will be built with age appropriate child-proofing. As the children grow up, the house will automatically remove the safety items. More power and flexibility at one fingertips will make their future home as busy, calm, organized, disorganized, exciting or relaxing as they want it to be at any moment in time. [26] When guests come, one will be able to expand the house using technologies such as 3D printing. When one goes on vacation, the house will shrink and cut down it’s size to save on energy and heating bills. Houses will also be built in under a day for a fraction of the cost that they are today. It will be as simple as designing one’s home on the computer and clicking “make.”

Devices will be very different than today. They will be very small and weigh practically nothing. Devices will be at the center of our lives and they are increasingly getting there. Devices will help everyone. Seniors will be able to navigate better when equipped with in-home escalators and moving walkways.[27] Devices will guide the blind through a home and will give captions to the deaf while in conversation. Apps on one’s phone will offer fashion advice based on current trends and the weather outside. Devices will even search the closet and suggest (or provide) an outfit. Robots will make dinner and cook everything. They will know how hungry one is and what type of food one prefers at any given moment. One will be able to think of a meal have it placed before them in no time.[28] Devices will know everything and be able to both advise and guide. They will tell people when they are sick and when one should go to the doctor or hospital. All of a person’s data will be stored in the cloud or on servers. There will be no need for people to back up their data. Everything will be accessible from any part of the world. Essentially, one will be doing all of their work on a server’s computer because they will be storing and using programs that are all in the cloud.[29]

Security will be everywhere in the future. Every house will have cameras in every room and will have a live feed accessible from anywhere. Fingerprints or other biological devices will prevent access to rooms or the house to intruders or robbers. Guests will be checked by an automated metal detector and X-ray machines to prevent weapons from entering the house. Facial recognition will be used and whenever someone enters the house, they will be checked on an online library of people. The house will be able to keep track of who is where and who enters and exits. It could provide notifications and keep statistics about how often one is in a certain room.[30] Of course, with all of this technology in the home, there will be will be more items of value for people to steel.

Up until the Industrial revolutions around the world, people would each work on their own farm or own their own store or business. With the advent of big companies and factories, the need for small businesses shrank, and the big companies grew and grew. Recently, humans have witnessed an underlying revolution where humankind have gone back in time to the 1800s. Startups have taken over software and hardware and have begun focusing on small, innovative and helpful technologies. A startup typically has under 30 employees who don’t have much of a hierarchy within their company. They typically work on an application, web based software or even hardware. In the future, one should expect to see people doing the majority of their work at home. Startups may even occupy a few rooms in a person’s house. A person will be able to sit down at a desk and feel like they are in an office space, so they will be as productive as if they were in a traditional office space. The DIY movement will grow bigger and bigger, and people will learn better how to execute their ideas and solve small problems that they come across.[31]

Many of these ideas sound very appealing, and they are. Mankind will be able to accomplish a great deal more in the future in a much shorter period of time. Some these technologies will only be available in the near future and some in the more distant future. Except to wait approximately 5 years for developers to begin making appliances in the home that will work together. It will probably take 10 years to create robots that will actually be able to do ones chores. In 15 years, one will see screens everywhere in the house, and the world will start to feel like everything is a computer. In around 20 years, one will be able to create less expensive homes at a faster rate that are eco-friendly. It will take probably 80 years for the first person to move to another planet and live there permanently. As with all innovations, the wealthy will benefit first.

“The future depends on what you do today.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

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