You may remember we wrote a blog post about making your home a smart home with all the most modern high-tech gizmos.
But high-tech is all about looking to the future and what we really want to know is what our homes will look like in 20 years. Will there be Inspector Gadget arms extruding all over the place to help us with housework? Or maybe all our houses will have been turned into morphing fighter giants à la Power Rangers?
Lucky for us, there are plenty of companies looking to develop for the house of the future. While you may not be able to get these products now (or at time of writing, at least), they may well be worth waiting for.
Have you ever looked at your home floor and thought it was being underutilised? No, neither has anyone else, except for the guys at German company Future Shape. These guys created the SensFloor underlay to be installed beneath flooring. SensFloor features proximity detectors and wireless transmitters, so now your floor will know when you’re walking on it. The floor can tell if you’re standing or lying down, and can work out your movement velocity.
The applications are intriguing, such as opening doors or locks, fall detection, burglar alarm, water leak detection and presence-controlled light and temperature management. Basically, it can make sure that the only stuff you have on are the things that are in your immediate vicinity. No word yet on what happens if you put your feet up, though.
According to the Nebia shower people, no one has bothered to innovate the showerhead properly in over a century. This is a shower of the future because it uses technology usually applied to rocket engines. It works by atomising streams of water into millions of tiny droplets, increasing the surface area of water while using significantly less.
Nebia claim they can do this using 70% less water, saving energy and one of the most precious resources of the future: water (maybe). This technology has already been invented so if it’s not out at the time of reading, then it will be soon. They claim to be ready to ship it from the US in late 2016. However, the shower requires a dedicated pipe at least 1.5m high, and many European showers only have a waist-high water source. They are working on a model that will work for these showers too.
Jibo refers to itself as ‘the world’s first social robot for the home’. It (although the marketing team will surely insist on a personal pronoun) resembles what EVE and WALL-E’s baby might look like if it styled itself on the Pixar lamp. Its job is to be the AI of the house – Iron Man’s Jarvis, if you will. Just say, “Jibo, order pizza” or “Jibo, turn off the lights” and it shall be done.
If you can get past the excruciating video where the actors managed to come off more robotic than the actual robot (perhaps this was intentional), then you’ll be able to see the incredible potential of Jibo. Being able to automatically track people means it can work as a cameraman at parties, a security guard keeping watch on your home while you’re out, your secretary taking all messages and reminding you about appointments and, apparently, can even read your children bedtime stories.
The website’s FAQs do state that not all the features in the video will be ready at time of launch, but those still interested can join the waiting list now. They are expected to ship imminently. It’s still not BB-8 from Star Wars but it’s a step in the right direction.
While we still don’t have the food replicator from Star Trek: The Next Generation (although an Israeli business has invented something they claim to be similar), the next best thing is coming soon. This year Samsung and MasterCard introduced their new fridge at the Consumer Electronics Show. It’s a smart fridge that’ll be able to connect to your hub just as your other devices.
The smart fridge offers you access to your fridge on your phone wherever you are, which is an idea so useful you’ll wonder how it took this long. The fridge has small cameras inside that record the last time the door was closed so that when you’re at the shop you are able to look inside and decide what you need. Anyone who’s ever wondered if they need milk, or forgotten what ingredients they need will be grateful to hear that.
However, the big innovation that MasterCard is bringing is the ability to order new groceries from your fridge as you run out. You do this by using the 21.5-inch full HD LCD touchscreen on the exterior door. The screen can also be used to leave notes or update calendars.
Don’t expect this to be coming anytime soon though, since – while a release of the fridge is due this year – experts don’t expect the ability to order food from your fridge to become mainstream for another 10 years.
Our expectation of technological advancement has plateaued since the days of waiting for flying houses, houses on mars and houses that are bigger on the inside than they are on the out. Despite this, we are moving ever forward, which gives us hope for the future. One day we’ll be helping folks get a mortgage for their future home right next to one of those vertical road things from Minority Report. Now that’s real estate.