Amazing Kids! Magazine

Talking House, Talking Car and Yes, a Talking Mailbox: Welcome to the Home of the Future

By Gen L’Esperance, Sci-Tech Kids! Columnist

Our journey actually begins, not in the house, but on the street. Take a walk down to the corner and the first thing you’ll notice is that the mailbox starts talking to you, “Good morning Lisa. You have 2 pieces of mail today. Don’t forget tomorrow is a holiday so there will be no mail delivery”. After picking up the mail you walk towards your front door. As you approach, your house starts talking to you. “Good morning Lisa. Welcome home. The inside temperature is a comfortable 68 degrees. Don’t forget you have a basketball practice at 1:00pm. As you enter the shades come up. They were down to keep the sun from overheating the house and to reduce the use of the air conditioner. As you walk towards the kitchen the message board lights up and you hear a reminder “Lisa, don’t forget your allergy medicine. The pollen count outside today is quite high.”

You’re getting hungry and you decide to make a pizza but you can’t remember the exact ingredients for the dough. You stand near the counter and call out “Pizza recipe please.” On your counter top you can clearly see the ingredients you need. Uh oh, the house has checked with the fridge. “You are short a quarter cup of milk”.

Well, a sandwich it is, and off to the living room. As you walk in, more shades open and you put your mobile phone on the table. Your friend Karen, who got a notification on her mobile that you had just entered your home, drops by and drops hers down too. Now the two of you see your pics spill out onto the table top and, with a flick of the finger you’re trading photos of the school trip you just took. You see one you want to send to grandma so you grab the mail envelope on the table top and drag the photo into it, scribble a message and off it goes.

You’re in the mood to get even with your brother for sticking peanut butter into the jam jar again so you head into his room and with a simple voice command you change his walls to display your favorite pics of Justin Beiber, removing all his posters of his favorite football players he had so carefully placed on each wall. In your room you and Karen decide to work on your science fair project. So you pull up some information on the web and then display all the information on the wall in front of you. You call out for your favorite music and add a few more selections before settling in to finish your paper.

In the bathroom the mirror lights up to display a message from your friend Jill reminding you that there is a great new movie starting tonight. You use the touch screen in the mirror and send her back a message that you and Karen will grab some tickets and join her.

You decide to help out mom and ask the house for a list of groceries. Since everything you put in and take out of the fridge is being tracked, the fridge starts displaying a list of food items that are running out. Just as you’re heading out the door the house reminds you to bring an umbrella because there is a possibility of a downpour any minute. Also, if you wait five minutes your mom will be home.

The house of the future exists and in fact some of the things I just mentioned and more have been actually tested in the home of Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, for the last several years including interactive toys his children tested from the time they were just a few years old. The House of the Future also exists at a building in the Executive Briefing building on the campus of Microsoft, where some visitors have had the opportunity to see what the future looks like.

Below are a few links to this exciting innovative home. My mom was actually one of those lucky visitors. And now the House of the Future is coming to Disney World so you, too, can share in the experience. But some of that technology is already finding its way into our homes and hotels.

During a recent visit to Washington my hotel bathroom actually had the TV built right into the mirror and when I visited a restaurant in Ottawa, Canada, the moment I walked in front of the sink the mirror displayed some advertising and played music. For fun I ducked down and it disappeared just as quickly. It was weird but we better get used to it because, just like in the story of Snow White, the talking mirror is just the beginning.