As a kid growing up in the early 1960s, I, like all my friends and probably most of our parents, had an abiding faith in technology. Life would get progressively easier as time wore on and machines took over many of the mundane tasks we mortals were forced to perform.
Across the country in Anaheim, Calif., Disneyland had an even better exhibit: the Home of the Future. It looked like it was right out of The Jetsons, and it promised just that life I alluded to above–disclosure: I didn't make it to Disneyland until I took my kid in the mid-1990s, but I saw it on TV. They knocked it down in 1967, albeit with some difficulty because it was so well designed it resisted the wrecking ball.
Now, it's come back, but not as some dreamer's view of life 50 years hence. It is a replica of a Taylor Morrison Home, outfitted with virtually off-the-shelf technology from Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and Lifeware, along with their myriad partners. OK, so some of the stuff is a few years away from consumer availability, but it is close.
And that's the point. "You can go to Best Buy and purchase most of the items you see in the house," says Taylor Morrison VP of sales and marketing Graham Hughes.
Some of the more whiz-bang stuff includes "Lillian," the kitchen computer that can talk you though baking a cake or tell your kid to pick up his lunch and head for the school bus because he's late, and the Microsoft coffee table that is really a touch-screen computer capable of everything from changing a channel or a CD track to downloading and displaying pictures from your cell phone. A state-of-the-art Lifeware home control system recognizes each family member through RFID (radio frequency identification) chips sewn or stuck onto their clothing, changing the A/V, lighting, temperature, and other preferences as an individual enters a room. Lillian uses RFID to identify the flour, eggs, milk, sugar, etc., to bake that cake we were talking about.
For Taylor Morrison, the house is less a technological marvel than it is a marketing research tool; it has a sweepstakes based on the Disney exhibit running through August. The home–located in Tommorowland–has been open for a month, and 7,000 people a day have walked through it. At the end of the tour, there is a "Party Tent" that contains, among other things, Taylor Morrison consoles featuring the ability to design one's own dream home. Guess where that "We will start to apply some of the technology, bit by bit," says Hughes. "By the end of this year, you will start seeing concepts from the Dream Home in our model homes."
Now that, dear readers, is the future.