The home of the future – say, 10 years down the road – will have fewer electrical wires, better products and cleaner air. The promise of better products has been around for decades, and will continue to be a promise.
For example, today’s washing machines are much more desirable than the hand-wringing tubs of a generation ago. And, frost-free refrigerators are hands-down favorites over having to chip through blocks of freezer ice.
Baby boomers well may remember the hand- wringing, freezer- chipping days of their parents and grandparents, but these same baby boomers will find that today’s products will yield to wonders for their kids.
It doesn’t matter whether consumer products take a generation or a decade to change. They will change.
And during the next 10 years, consumers could see several breakthroughs in household technologies.
Some of these breakthroughs are taking root today. Here are some of the things sees on the horizon:
Wireless communication and data transmission will usher in more cordless telephones, wireless hookups to the Internet and even electric lamps and small appliances that won’t use cords or cables.
"We’ll have an increased use of more powerful batteries, fuel cells, solar and other power sources," said Susan Brown, technology access leader in consumer products group.
"We can even envision devices to transfer energy from your outlets to lights, vacuum cleaners and other appliances without the use of wires,".
Energy conservation, as well, may be taking another twist. Instead of solar cells on the roof of a house to collect heat, shingles could transfer solar-generated electricity to the home – without having to use wiring.
Smart filters on furnaces and air vents can reduce indoor air pollution and bacterial growth. Technology also could lead to antiallergenic and antibacterial surfaces, such as in the kitchen.
Home health monitors can analyze nutrition and exercise programs as people spend more time indoors.
Spring house cleaning won’t have to be done all by hand thanks to an in-home system that could determine which materials can be recycled. Even envisions home-based systems that will treat and recycle water. Imagine the reduced costs on the monthly water bill.
We will enter the 21st century with wristwatch-style phones and specialized, handheld wireless computers. These could be used for online banking or planning entertainment activities.
Miniaturized information also could lead to a phone book for the country that fits in the palm of the hand.
Affordable HDTV (high-definition television) is something today’s consumers want. All products come down in price, but they also come with more features. Just look at how computers have changed over the years.
HDTV – the digital TV sets of the future – could include not only functions for home computing, but also videoconferencing and networking.
Computer games, music systems, video entertainment systems and even exercise equipment will get a lot more virtual through enhanced video and sound projections. Someone exercising on the treadmill could imagine running through a nature scene as its being projected onto a wall.
If only it were today, we’ve feel a lot more secure about what the future holds in terms of error-free, easy-to-use electronic commerce. Security concerns, of course, will be a major element to using and accepting the ability to buy products over the Internet.
Speak and ye shall be heard with the use of voice-activated products, ranging from televisions and computers to lights and other electronic products.
Today, some home lighting can be controlled by sound-activated devices, and voice-recognition software is emerging from its infancy.
DNA chips and bioelectric security may sound impossible, but these devices of the future will fill a need for new identification systems. Magnetic strips on the back of credit cards won’t be enough anymore.
If its predictions prove true, consumers will see as much of a change in their lifestyles as has been seen during the past generation. Just as today’s adults had black-and-white televisions as children and now look forward to HDTV, today’s kids are growing up with computers while looking toward an anxious reality.