It’s been said for hundreds of years, “Our home is our castle.” But, it’s probably closer to the truth to say that our home is really our sanctuary. After a long day at work, our home gives us peace and comfort. It restores our spirit from the pressure and grind of daily activity. Every room in our homes has a special function; eating, sleeping, entertainment—and as such, we have supplied each room with special features to fulfill those functions. In just the past few years, we’ve seen many positive changes in our home appliances and entertainment. But what can we expect in the future? What might our homes look like by 2020? Let’s take a look at some of the cooler innovations that will help us function better or more happily in all the rooms of our house (yes, even the bathroom):
- Family room – In most family rooms, the central device is the TV. Just as in past years, we’ve seen tremendous innovation with TVs as they connect to the web and allow streaming shows, interactivity, and gaming. So where can we go from here? Well, TVs will be 3-D and enabled not only for entertainment content, but also for video calls. New interfaces will allow voice control of your TV so that, instead of fumbling with the remote to play back a recorded show, you can just say Homeland and it will list all of the episodes. Motion control like Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect will also give new controllability to your TV. But TV won’t be the only thing in the room that has voice or motion control. In the future, lighting, music, and temperature will all be activated by sound or motion (and you laughed at the Clap-On lady)
- Kitchen – The kitchen has always been the one room in the house where innovation seems to thrive, and that will continue to be so in the future. Sometime soon, we can expect to have stove tops powered by magnetic induction, talking refrigerators, scanning microwave ovens that can automatically set the time and temperature for specific foods, and a cook pot that can actually control its own temperature by sending radio signals to the stove. Probably the best kitchen innovation will be wireless appliances, where your blender, toaster, and food processor would all have transmitters built-in, and be powered from electrical wires snaked under the countertop.
- Bedroom – The typical bedroom is normally pretty boring when it comes to technology; they usually have a bed, a dresser or two, a chair, an alarm clock, and a flat-screen TV. But the bedroom of the future will be a lot cooler than that. First, the beds will all be Smartbeds that will recognize your body and automatically adjust to your desired firmness and temperature. They can also be set to vibrate when your snoring gets too annoying, so your partner can get some sleep. Your alarm clock will all be voice activated so you can tell it to “buzz-off” in the morning. The TV will of course be cutting edge. But what about the windows? What if the windows in your bedroom have “smart glass” and are able to dim, lighten and even create heat (or keep it out)… all with your voice? No need to get up to shut the blinds on Saturday morning.
- Bathroom – Of course, this article wouldn’t be complete until we brought up the bathroom. But what could possibly be cool about a bathroom? A smart toilet, that’s what! Imagine an intelligent toilet that automatically raises and lowers the seat so you won’t get in trouble from your wife ever again. Or toilets that can run health tests on your “waste products” and let you know if you’re pre-diabetic or are in danger of developing some other health hazard. Not to be outdone, the lowly bathroom mirror has some surprises. Imagine a smart mirror that has a computer behind two-way glass and that is voice activated and displays news, traffic reports, reminders, and messages, as you shave. Pretty cool. Showers would have digital controls and personalized shower settings for all family members, maybe even with parental controls to prevent little ones from getting scalded, and hurry those hot water-hogging teenagers out a little quicker.
Everyone says that our homes are our castles, but we’ll take voice activated climate control over big drafty rooms any day. And with innovations like these, in the future, it may be more accurate to say that our homes are our own personal spas.