One of the best experiences of my life was traveling to Seattle for the first time because I was allowed to tour the Microsoft Home of the Future which is closed to the public.
The Home of the Future is "Microsoft's equivalent of a concept car" where they predict what our homes will look like in the near future. "It's not an actual house but the company's private lab, where researchers test cutting-edge concepts." Located in the Microsoft headquarters, it includes a living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom and den.
Here's what happened when I walked up to the door + the cool things that followed:
- As you walk down a random (and secured) hallway in the Microsoft Headquarter building, a house exterior appears complete with plants and a front door. The first futuristic aspect of the home is how you get in. Key? Haha, no. It's a hand scan to get in.
- Once I got over how cool the hand scan was it got 10 times better…the guy giving us the tour started talking to Grace. Huh? Grace is the computer that runs the house and knows everything about you and your house. He told her to change the temperature, turn on the lights in certain rooms, and asked how his daughter did on a recent test. It also retrieved voicemail and likely email as well.
- The above happened within the first step in the house. While we were still standing there I'm pretty sure he asked the house to change the painting on the wall. Every surface in the Home of the Future is an interactive screen, including the paintings. If you're bored of a painting just ask the house to change it.
- The kitchen was next…incredible. There were trackers on every food item so the house knew exactly when you were running out of something. As soon as it sensed you ran out of milk for example, it simply added it to the interactive shopping list on your fridge!
- Because the kitchen knows which ingredients you have, it can suggest recipes that will only contain those items. This is where the interactive screens come in. The kitchen counter is a screen. When you select a recipe, it shows up on the kitchen counter screen and walks you step-by-step through the recipe. Imagine you have to roll out pizza dough; it doesn't just tell you how large of a circle to make, it actually displays the exact size of the circle on your counter!
- Moving into the dining room there were more amazing screens. The place mats turned into interactive games on the table. I remember it being a full color screen with an interactive (iPad-like) game. I can't remember much more about the dining room.
- The bedroom was next and again…incredible. Every wall was a screen. While we were there the guide asked the house to change the wallpaper and instantly the room was transformed. The walls are interactive in that if you through something at them, the wallpaper will have a ripple effect. Imagine the possibilities with that kind of interactive technology on every surface in your house.
- The mirror in the bedroom was amazing. As you walk up to it, the weather and other relevant info appears. Remember those sensors on every food item? They'll also be in each piece of clothing. When you hold up any article of clothing to the mirror, it not only gives you info about that piece, but also recommends what you should wear with it!
It's exciting to imagine that in just 5 years we could be interacting with our house in these ways. The technology is already out there, we just have to implement it on a large scale.