Imagining the Home of the Future

Continuum Show Image

I was recently contacted by the TV network NBCUniversal who was just about to launch its latest series on the SyFy channel. Now a little known fact about me is that I am a bit of a secret sci-fi geek and growing up I loved watching sci-fi programmes with my dad and I was always fascinated by all the futuristic technologies that we would see and the possibilities that they held for changing our lives beyond all recognition. So you can imagine how excited I was to hear from the SyFy channel about this new series.

Continuum is a Canadian production that recently aired for the first time in the UK and tells the story of a cop from 2077 who finds herself sent back in time to 2012 along with a group of ruthless criminals. Now I can’t tell you any more about the story as I’ve only seen the first episode and like you I’ll have to tune in each week. However, coinciding with the series, SyFy will be running a series of blog posts from guest bloggers in which they ask them to imagine their particular niche in 2077. I have been asked to write about my vision of the future of interiors and design. So here goes…

I started off by getting all carried away and imagining a Star Trek type house with a holodeck and a replicator. I mean when thinking about the home of the future it’s actually quite easy to fall into the trap of getting very carried away and imagining the most advanced technologies possible, just as we did back in the 50’s when we were all convinced that by the year 2000 we would be living in the space age world of the Jetsons. But it’s now 2012 and that is still far from reality. So instead I decided to stop my mind from wandering quite so far into the future and focus on the technologies that already exist today or that are currently in the early stages of development. I figure it’s far more likely that these technologies are the ones that will be standard issue in the average home.  And after some great consideration I decided that the main developments that we are likely to see in our homes of the future can be broken down into three main areas: increased adaptability, interactivity and connectivity.

Adaptability

Sustainability has been on the agenda for ages now and this focus on saving energy and resources will only be more important in the future. Our houses will become increasingly efficient and will be designed to function like a living organism. Biomimicry will become more prevalent as architecture takes inspiration from nature enabling buildings to adapt to their surroundings, the environment and the climate. Onsite weather systems will enable our homes to adapt to weather conditions and regulate the internal environment within the house.  And there will be a kind of dynamic skin that will allow the house to breathe, letting in more or less air and light as is required. Our houses will also be able to reposition themselves to reflect or absorb the sunlight depending on the time of day.

Multi-functional

Inside the house there will also be some interesting developments. As our homes continue to get smaller, we will need to make the most of the space that we have and we will do this by creating multi-functional areas. By using mechanics we will be able to transform our homes at the touch of a button. Walls will be moveable so that rooms can be reconfigured at will, furniture will be raised from the floor or lowered from the ceiling when needed so that all available floor space will be maximised.

YO! Home features 12 moving parts drawing on the mechanics of stage scenery to allow the transformation of an eighty square metre space (the size of a one bedroom apartment) into a much bigger home

Configuring our rooms will also be easier as power systems in the home of the future will be wireless. There will be no more unsightly power cables or plug sockets so we will be able to position our electrical items wherever we want in the room. This is probably the one development that I look forward to most. My husband is a bit of a techie so our house is full of wires trailing all over the place and I long for the day that our electrical equipment will charge itself remotely.

Interactivity

I think that the house of the future will also be far more interactive than we are used to and that most of the surfaces in our homes will include interactive touch screen technology so that they will all have the capability to collect, store and display information. Walls, ceilings, tables, work surfaces, cupboards and mirrors will be screens that can be used to access the internet, display agendas, read the newspaper, view photographs, make phone calls and watch movies.

Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense
The Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense is an innovative product that responds to touch, natural hand gestures and real world objects placed on the display, providing effortless interaction with information and digital content in a simple and intuitive way

One thing that I did think may be an exciting possibility is that in our future homes we will no longer need to decorate as our walls will be giant screens that are able to display whatever we want them to. So we will be able to download our wallpaper, any wallpaper, and change it at the click of a button. We will be able to change the colours and patterns with every season or every trend. In fact, even the windows will be able to display an image of our choice so even if we don’t have a great view from our house we can simply download one of our choosing; one day a beach scene, the next a view of the lake or the forest.

Connectivity

I’ve written about the development of the Smart Grid before and by 2077, the Smart Grid will be a reality enabling the connected home to be far more energy efficient. Our homes will be able to communicate with the electrical grid that provides our energy and they will learn to adjust our power usage according to price and availability. The solar panels and wind turbines that will provide our homes with clean energy will be connected to our house hold appliances, which will optimize their usage dependant on weather conditions.

LG Thinq Smart Appliances
LG’s Thinq range of smart appliances allow homeowners to manage refrigerators, washing machines, ovens and robotic vacuum cleaners via a smart network

The appliances will in turn be able to communicate with us thanks to apps on our smart phones. It is quite conceivable that we will receive a message from our fridge freezer letting us know if the door has been left open. Our washing machines will tell us when the load has finished and the dishwasher will let us know if it has a fault and will even request a visit from an engineer. Likewise, we will be able to activate our kettles or switch on our ovens before we even get home simply by activating them from our smart phones.

Most interestingly though, I believe that our homes will be fitted out with intuitive technology that will monitor our behaviour and adapt accordingly. Our heating and lighting systems for example will know what time we leave the house and what time we come home, what time we go to bed and what time we get up and the temperature and lighting will be regulated to suit our movements with no programming from us.

Nest Learning Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat learns from your behaviours, preferences and surroundings to create a custom heating and cooling schedule, keeping you comfortable when you’re home and conserving energy when you’re away

Our connected home will also monitor our physical wellbeing. There will be sensors in the floor that will be used to detect our movements within the house and this will be particularly helpful for the elderly. Should a fall occur the floor will detect this and will immediately trigger a call to the emergency services or a designated responder. The house will also use various sensors to monitor our health, keeping records of our weight, sleeping habits, blood pressure, temperature, and bodily functions. Should anything abnormal be detected the records will be sent directly to your doctor.

Now I could go on, but this post is far too long already. I would love to know what you reckon the house of the future will be like though. What would you most like to see? What technology or gadget are you looking forward to using?

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