It is hard to imagine life without the use of modern technology. In just a few short decades, our personal and professional lives seem to be dependent on the cellphone and the tablet computer, but we are also experiencing something akin to a revolution in the way technology is becoming integrated into the home.
Everyone has a cellphone, from schoolchildren to senior citizens, and although previous generations seemed to manage perfectly well without them, we would certainly struggle to do so, as they serve several different functions for us. We obviously use them to talk to people, but thanks to the evolution of the smartphone, we also use them to listen to music, browse the internet and make posts on social media, shop, and work outside of an office environment.
In entertainment terms, the iPhone in particular, and its sister, the iPod, has caused a significant change. Gone are CDs, cassettes and vinyl records. Now, we download highly compressed musical tracks to our phone’s storage disk, pop the unit into a speaker dock, and simply select the track we want to listen to. The iPhone and similar units can even act as remote controls for streaming audio and video tracks around the home, so that one central entertainment unit can service an entire property.
Even furniture has evolved to contain technological elements. We can now choose to furnish our bedrooms with bedsteads which, at the touch of a button on a remote control, open to reveal a hidden television in the foot, returning once again into its depth to create the ultimate streamlined interior. Alternatively, there is the iPod bed, which has an inbuilt dock and speaker system, cutting down on all those unattractive and messy cables hanging down.
It is perhaps in the kitchen that the greatest technological advances will occur. With many more people appreciating the benefits of good food, home kitchens are set to contain state-of-the-art ovens, such as the already available “steam” ovens, and these will run off solar power. There is already talk of self-cleaning work surfaces that identify when something is dropped on them and assimilate any non-toxic substance so that it can be recycled, as well as self-cleaning cutlery and utensils.
Kettles, coffee makers and toasters will be able to be turned on from the bedroom upon waking, simply by using a wirelessly connected tablet computer and selecting the particular function. Refrigerators will come fitted with a touchscreen, preloaded with relevant Apps, and which keeps track of the contents, so we will be able to see at a glance if the milk is running low and put in an order with a favored supplier.
We are already experiencing the beginnings of this, but the living rooms of the future will be the places where we do our shopping, virtually trying on new clothes by uploading 3D images of ourselves or having a virtual coffee with friends, using paper-thin television screens that blend into the décor. Smart technology will allow the environment to be adapted to individual users, with customized light and heat settings.