In June 1957, the same year Sputnik ignited the Space Race, the Monsanto House of the Future opened at Tomorrowland in Disneyland Park. The house portrayed a modern home in 1985 and featured devices we think of today as commonplace, items such as microwave ovens, large-screen TVs, and electric toothbrushes and razors.
Now, builder Taylor Morrison is working closely with tech notables Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Exceptional Innovation (EI), makers of home-automation software LifeWare, to build a 21st-century version of the House of the Future. The grand opening of the $15 million home is planned for early this summer. The 5,000-square-foot home will be an attraction at Disneyland that visitors can walk through.
Sheryl Palmer, president and CEO of Taylor Morrison, said the home will have a son's room, a teenage daughter's room, a kitchen, a great room, a home office, and a dining room.
"This house has the ability to influence our design and construction for years to come," said an excited Palmer.
"What better focus group than consumers walking through Disney," she said. Visitors will be asked to take a survey on their way out of the home.
"Our real intention is to get feedback from consumers," Palmer said.
Mike Seamons, EI's vice president of marketing, said one of the main goals of building the house is to expose the general public to all the new available home-automation technologies that attendees of trade shows such as the International Builders' Show and CEDIA have seen for the past few years at showcase homes such as the NexGen house.
Seamons said the tech companies have displayed how LifeWare can extend the features of Microsoft's Windows Media Center, letting home buyers manage audio, video, security, HVAC, and lighting with a single remote.
"The home at Disney will take what we've been doing a step further," said Seamons, adding that the plan is to develop more applications in which the network monitors what the homeowner is doing and then sets a scene or a process in motion.
One application being developed would help homeowners more efficiently plan meals. For example, when a homeowner comes home with bags of groceries, sensors on the countertop would read RFID tags on the groceries and then suggest recipes for meals on a touch panel.
"The idea is to build more applications using sensors," said Seamons, noting that further details on the actual technology will be forthcoming.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.