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Microsoft’s “Home of the Future”

Microsoft’s “Home of the Future”
Design
Christine Huang
  • 28 may 2008

Abbey Claassen at AdAge offers a glimpse into the “Home of the Future”, according to Microsoft. The software company created a mock home to reflect their vision of what technologies and features tomorrow’s home will feature at their campus in Redmond, Washington. The home has existed for more than 15 years, but its recent renovation showcases Microsoft’s prediction of how household electronics and amenities will look in 5-plus years. Highlights from Claassen’s overview:

What it includes: Everything in the home of the future runs on a central network, with devices such as cellphones and even the home’s doorbell residing as nodes on that network. When family members arrive home, the home recognizes them because of their mobile devices. The mailbox may even be smart enough to notify them what mail is waiting to be collected. (That means, yes, there will still be paper letters in five years.)
The RFID Factor: Virtually everything in the home of the future was embedded with radio-frequency-identification technology — smart tagging, it is called — and was able to react without much effort on the part of the user. Want the kids to put their toys away? How about programming certain toys to go in certain bins? The system will automatically check whether everything gets back where it belongs. Or in the kitchen, if family members pull out particular appliances and ingredients, the “smart kitchen” will know what they are looking to make, and the countertop will display the recipe.

Interestingly, as Claassen reports, Microsoft’s future home does not include walls and surfaces covered with PC monitors and screens. Ever more human-friendly, “smart” interfaces are expected to take the place of older forms of interaction:

‘It assumes there will be more intuitive ways to interact with information,’ said Stephen Kim, global marketing director at Microsoft. He said consumer adoption of some of these tactics, such as voice recognition, has actually been faster than many assumed and cited Sync, the in-vehicle technology partnership between Microsoft and Ford.

And according to other accounts, decor will be a lot fancier than today’s: “Interactive wallpaper will combine images of friends, favorite bands and places to create something akin to an online MySpace page in the real world. While the images on these walls come from projectors, companies such as Philips are working on thin organic light-emitting diodes that could be applied like wallpaper.” Sounds nifty, but we’re curious if Microsoft, like Disneyland, has mindfully ignored the issue that should be at the forefront of future design: sustainability.

AdAge: Microsoft’s ‘Home of the Future’

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