Robocleaners, Tweeting Refrigerators: the Future Home
Ever wondered what your home might look like in 10 years’ time? Will it be cleaned by robots and run by computers? Will your fridge go online to allow you to discuss dinner plans with your spouse or instruct it to do the shopping?
If the technology giants exhibiting their latest wares at the IFA trade fair in Berlin are to be believed, this is what life could be like. The technology exists, even if some of the products have so far only been launched in places like Korea, one of the world’s leading consumer electronics markets.
No less than 1441 exhibitors at the enormous technology fair, spread across an area the size of more than 20 football pitches, are showing off weird and wonderful gadgets.
With so-called Smart Control for home appliances, you can run an app on your smartphone, select the air conditioning option and set the temperature remotely.
Miele has an app that allows you to turn on your washing machine, should you suddenly realize you forgot to push the button at home.
And refrigerators, it seems, can do a lot more for us than store food in a cool place.
Why not watch TV on your refrigerator? Samsung has a refrigerator that tweets. Or you could take a quick look inside, find you are out of broccoli and order some online for delivery.
Robot cleaners with built-in sensors to keep it from damaging your furniture can clean the floor while you get a shiatsu back massage using 3D technology.
TV will be interactive. You will talk to your friends while watching a show, blurring the lines between TV and the Internet. Television sets are personalized to reflect the user’s habits. Face recognition automatically identifies the user and sets the picture and sound to match the profile.
And you can watch it in 3D, in designer glasses if you like, by the likes of Calvin Klein and Lacoste, or no glasses at all. Toshiba's3D televisions, launched in Europe at IFA on Friday, create the illusion of depth without the need to wear special glasses by sending images of different perspectives to the right and others to the left eye.
All of this will be energy-efficient, helped by technology which is low on consumption.
Energy storage units will store surplus electricity from renewable energy sources and companies like Toshiba foresee a future in which your TV tells you to switch to battery mode as your community's energy consumption is monitored to deliver sustainable energy services.
IFA says 3.5 billion euros ($5.0 billion) worth of orders were placed at last year’s show.
Whether distributors will be convinced by some of the more futuristic products on offer remains to be seen. Meanwhile IFA offers a sneak preview of what the future could look like.