Thursday, June 23, 2005

Easy Living - A House of the Future

You have to admit, that in today's world we do have it pretty easy. With media centre computers and intelligent washing machines entering our households, our life seems to get easier and easier every day, at what cost. Well a hefty price tag and also time taken to setup the device to function exactly the way you want it, and we can complain that it does take a long time to set up, yet it's difficult to say that these devices really don't make our life that much easier.

And so enter into the house of the future. A place where time taken to setup devices will be the only chore to complete, but don't expect to wake up tomorrow and see this house on the market. It will be a long while since we ever even see a model of this house, but it's safe to say that our trusty geeks are working quite hard at it. So what about this house, what really makes it special. The whole house will be controlled by one central computer, but instead of loading up this computer with state of the art hardware, it will collectively control other resources around the house to harness its computing power. This will control everything from the very basics to the most complex things. For instance, take the simple motion of turning on lights when you enter a room. Now completely erase that action as your door frame will have multiple sensors installed in it. Simply walking into a room will send a signal to your mainframe demanding that the lights be turned on. The mainframe will then simply check with local dusk/dawn times and synchronize its lights that way. Walking into a room when its sunny outside will not turn on any lights, but at night your mainframe accepts all these decisions and allows lights to be turned on. Did we mention all your rooms are installed with microphones in them. This allows almost every device to be individually controlled via user set voice commands. Sitting in the room and feel like watching some TV...Simply say "TV On" and immediately your TV will power on. Feel free to then exclaim "Channel up" or "Channel down" to change your channels or even "Volume up" or "Volume down" for volume commands. Now imagine controlling every single device like this, and immediately the ease of use comes into play. There is no more getting off the couch or bed to open a window, but merely speaking a simple voice command will complete any action of your choosing. Your TV will also view your patterns and learn about the kind of media the viewer likes to watch, that way your TV will now advise you on what channel to watch incase you can't find anything and it will even record all your favourite shows for you. How about your kitchen now. Well your refrigerator/freezer will have a computer of its own. During set-up you merely have to input a list of essentials into the computer. Then through camera imaging your refrigerator will know whenever you take an item out of the refrigerator. As soon as an empty container is thrown in the trash your trash can will simply "ask" the refrigerator if it has the item inside the fridge. If it responds "no" it will then go through the process of ordering the groceries online and have them shipped to you the next day. If you feel like eating some pizza or take out Chinese, it no longer includes placing an order on the phone, but merely a visit to the fridge's computer display. There you will place your order with the fridge and your fridge will call up the local pizzeria and have your order delivered. This house of the future will also implement a new thermostat system and will no longer check individual house temperature, instead it will detect body heat in a room and adjust temperature that way. With no individuals in a room it will let the temperature drop as to save you some money on your next bill. At night the house will also switch into a secure mode. This way if anyone does break in, weight scales in the foundation of the house will immediately spot the sudden addition to overall weight and will then send this signal to the mainframe. Your motion detector and infrared cameras will also go through their own security checks. If any of these checks fail and the mainframe agrees that an attempt at intrusion has been made, a signal will be sent to the local police. While this is happening all the doors in the house will lock, all lights will turn on and your bed will vibrate to awake the house owner and its patrons. You are now in a secure mode and there is absolutely no way an intruder can enter any rooms at all and the police are already on their way. Your house will also take care of the other smaller details. For instance the mere task of taking a shower will be converted into an easy process. Your house will learn about its various patrons and will learn the temperature that they like to shower at. Once that's been done you just need to pull back the shower curtain and immediately the water will turn on to the set temperature. Vacuuming is no longer a chore as mobile robots will take care of that for you. Objects in the house will also be sprayed with special poly-carbonates that will keep them clean and will not allow dust or grime to set on them. This way, vacuuming your floor is the only cleaning task that needs to be done, and even that will be done by a robot. This house will be a dream to every tech-savvy user. By a mere voice command a computer screen will be projected onto a wall and the user has a virtual computer anywhere in the house. Some are greatly bothered by this fact though, as threats to software flaws and virtual intrusion attempts are very real. But it's still a long while since we'll see something like this on the market. Then it's just upto our fellow geeks to make sure the mainframe doesn't have any version of a Microsoft Operating system installed on it. There's nothing like sitting down to watch the game, and instead seeing the blue screen of death on your TV asking you to push Ctrl - Alt - Del. It will be a long wait though, but when it finally gets here, it will definitely be an exciting life style.


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