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What Would Be Your Ideal Futuristic Home? 546 546

deman1985 asks: "As the owner of a small commercial and home integration company, I'm exposed to a wide variety of customers with differing tastes and needs. I'll get requests for anything from the ordinary audio distribution systems and full home theater systems, to downright bizarre requests like having bubble baths run automatically, when they walk in the door. However, the vast majority of customers I encounter are not technologically inclined and are more interested in simplicity rather than impressiveness. What would your ideal integrated home look like? What's the most unique feature you would like to see? If you had access to an unlimited budget, what would you spend money on to make your home stand out? Whole-house audio? Hidden video screens? Automatic locks? Do most people view home integration strictly as a toy for entertainment, or is the technology ready for prime time?"
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What Would Be Your Ideal Futuristic Home?

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  • Sustainability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by under_score (65824) <mishkin-slashdot@ b e rteig.com> on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:36PM (#14892370) Homepage
    I love technology. My family has several laptops, desktops and we run a few servers as well. We have gadgets. But the thing about it all that bothers me, is that it is all dependent on the precarious infrastructure for power and telecom. I would love to have solar and wind power backup. I'd love to have redundant methods of communication, even going back to low-tech/old-tech radio systems. I'd also like to have local caches of reference materials such as wikipedia, about.com, CIA world factbook, etc. I'm not a survivalist freak, but I do find it painful when the power goes out for a few days at a time! It'd be nice to have some basic backups!
    • But the thing about it all that bothers me, is that it is all dependent on the precarious infrastructure for power and telecom. I would love to have solar and wind power backup.

      Get yerself an RTGs [wikipedia.org] for your back up power needs.
    • If you want to know about how to live "off the grid" I will gladly answer any questions you have. My grandfather left me a house on Tuckernuck island, right next to Nantucket. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nantucket,_Massachus e tts [wikipedia.org]
      There are no utilities whatsoever there. I have all propane appliances there (fridge etc) and some solar. It is an interesting way to live... although I only get out there a couple weeks a year. Sometimes I think that I would like to make it my permanent address, but I think I wo
    • Earthship (Score:5, Interesting)

      by astonish (177831) on Friday March 10, 2006 @04:49PM (#14893785)
      Exactly! I attended a speech here not to long ago by someone who had built their own earthship. Essentially the idea is to pack sand in tires for thick mass around 3 walls and then face the sun with a wall of windows and the house regulates its own temperatures. They built their home (somewhere in the 2000-3000 sqrft size range) for $40,000 CDN. The house regulates its own temperature from outdoor conditions of -40C to +30C here in Ontario. They use a composting toilet, well water with a waste water system using plants, woodstove and solar power (including computers). For $40k (they say they could do it for $30K knowing what they know now) they are completely off the grid and as a bonus financially independent other than property taxes. As an interesting aside in some municipalities your property taxes are based on the amount of greenspace your house takes up and since the roof of the house is actually earth and grass you loose no greenspace....

      Anyway, this my new dream home. As it is completely self-sufficient, low cost, and there have been many projects to show that you don't have to sacrifice luxery (including running many computers and HDTVs and the like) when living in this sort of home. About the only trouble seems to be getting building permits (did I meantion they are certified earthquake safe in california?) Many of them are very gorgeous as well. I would recommend checking out earthship.org for examples.
  • Wrong way for me. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AnonymousPrick (956548) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:37PM (#14892374)
    I'd want a small home(1,500 - 2,000 sq.ft.) on plenty of land (4+ acres) with trees. The only electronics I'd want is something that blocks anything wireless so I can have some peace and quiet for once. Also, I'd have an excuse for why I wasn't pestered by any phone calls...I mean, why I didn't get someone's call.
    • Product name... (Score:3, Informative)

      Luddite HomesTM

      Oooo, I think I'm on to something here!

      There was this builder on NPR a year ago. He builds house in Athens, GA. He figured out that if he left as many trees as he could on a property, he could sell the house for a premium. I just thought - "Uh, Duh!" Most GA builders just clear cut everything and plant weeds (i.e.a lawn).

      • Re:Product name... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SeeMyNuts! (955740) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:14PM (#14892816)

        It isn't a matter of being a Luddite. Most people can't control who their neighbors are, which is one reason why living in the subburbs is so darn stressful. The only defense against neighbors in high population density areas is to have tons of money, to pay the association people to enforce restrictions, and to put up big fences.

        Outside cities, the other defense is a lot of land, and lots of shrubbery in the woods to block sound and line of sight to roadways.

        Another defense is a lot of insulation in the walls and ceiling to block sound, which is an added bonus on top of energy efficiency. Unfortunately, a lot of the cookie-cutter 1000-unit neighborhoods were built quickly and cheaply, meaning often inadequate insulation (one house I lived in wasn't even up to code, before I fixed that).

        • "and lots of shrubbery in the woods to block sound and line of sight to roadways."

          So the quest for peace is a quest for shrubbery?

          Those Knights Who Said Ni were on to something...
    • Re:Wrong way for me. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rei (128717) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:52PM (#14892578) Homepage
      Tech != electronics (at least not exclusively). I want pneumatic tubes to deliver items across the house, powered lifts, etc. ;)

      I wouldn't mind a bit of green tech, either - houses designed with big south facing windows and large eaves to let in lots of sunlight in the winter but little in the summer, perhaps solar water heating, perhaps a heat pump, perhaps a wind turbine if in a windy area, etc. For really esoteric, on a big house you could go with a solar thermal evaporative cooler/heater: noiseless, takes no power, and has no moving parts except for the fan; heating and cooling are done by the same device.

      As a gardener, an automated greenhouse would be neat (maintains temperature with opening and closing of flaps, and an internal heater if needed).
      • I want to be able to turn a knob and set how much light gets through the windows. I want this per window, with a master for each wall, a master for each room, and a master for the house.

        I *don't* want my appliances to talk to me. Save that for Disneyland. Or blind people. Or people much geekier than me.

        A greenhouse style back porch with variable tint windows as above, plus the ability to push a button to open or close the windows, preferably directionally (like vertical blinds) to either catch or block
      • Two words: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by snowwrestler (896305) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:25PM (#14894632)
        Self cleaning.

        I don't really care about details of how it's accomplished. Nano-treated surfaces and micro-robots? Sweet, whatever. Just so long as I never have to clean the tub or mop the kitchen by hand again.
    • by Carik (205890) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:03PM (#14892692)
      1,500 - 2,000 square feet is NOT a small home. 750 - 1,100 square feet is a small home. My girlfiend and I are currently living in a condo that's nominally about 950 square feet, but a lot of that is taken up by stairs, walls, and poor planning. Call it maybe 800 square feet of usable living area, total. The only thing we really need more space for is long-term storage; winter storage for the bicycles, christmas ornaments, things like that. So... if you have a family, yes, you'll need at least 1,500 square feet. But if you don't have kids, why get such a big house? I'm looking at new places at the moment, and I'm finding that 1,200 or so is as much space as I need, as long as it has a basement or a barn for storing all the Stuff I'm not using at the moment.
      • 1) you always grow out of your home until you have kids and they leave for college.

        2) home values go up, mostly.

        so, buy the biggest house you can afford, a little ways from the edge of surberbia. You will grow into it, and you will make more money over the long run.
      • Re:Wrong way for me. (Score:4, Informative)

        by apt142 (574425) on Friday March 10, 2006 @04:03PM (#14893321) Homepage Journal
        I used to live in a house about 900 square feet. And I completely agree with you. For just a couple, it's fine if you've got it set up where it's working for you. If it's not set up however, it can be quite painful. I ended up moving because the storage areas consisted of two closet just large enough to stand in. And I was renting so there wasn't a lot of home improvements I could do to it.

        About two years ago we moved into a larger house (1300) and we thought we'd never use all the space in the house. It's funny, you find a way to use it. I'd equate the experience to a Hard drive. When you get one with more space, you just find more ways of filling it up.
  • DUH! (Score:5, Funny)

    by amliebsch (724858) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:37PM (#14892383) Journal
    What happens when you ask a bunch of nerds and engineers to collaborate on a home design? You get the DUH: Dilbert Ultimate House [unitedmedia.com] (Professional Edition).
    • Re:DUH! (Score:2, Insightful)

      This is modded as Funny, but the truth is the DUH actually has some pretty cool features, a few of which I plan on retrofitting to my place and incporporating if/when I get around to building a house.
    • You can also find the online version, with virtual tours and everything right here. [dilbert.com]
  • Simplicity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by s0l3d4d (932623) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:38PM (#14892392) Homepage
    Ideal home integration?
    Simplicity. Japanese style furniture, and few and selected furniture, and the stereos, hifi, etc would be simplistic as well. No TV - possibly a projector. Ideally Bose but any small and good sounding speakers, integrated with iPod. Integration with Airport Express should be easy - so can control the musics of all the rooms of the house by the computers (a few in different rooms or where needed).
    Actually, for TV needs now the computers do fine - mostly viewing movies anyway, and some cartoons with eyeTV.
    Lots of small lights in ceiling and on walls to get enough light on winter, and enough analog candles for the mood.
    And simple materials to keep it all timeless - such as white walls, dark wood, some stone, some metal, and selected details in bright colors.
    And the simplicity factor will make it more simple than now - there are 16 iPods in our house now ... probably could do with a bit less.
    • Re:Simplicity (Score:4, Interesting)

      by danlyke (149938) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:51PM (#14893185) Homepage
      Yes! I see all of this stuff about monster technology and all the rest, and I'm realizing that even though I'm a nerd who has 5 computers in my living room, I've spent a lot of time getting as much of that stuff out of my house, or at least as unobtrusive, as possible. And those five computers are as hidden as I can make them (three are laptops, one is a small server in my stereo cabinet, the display for the desktop is an LCD in a bookshelf with a pull-out drawer for the keyboard and mouse). I want much of my furniture, especially anything holding computers or whatnot, to be fold away and to have blank faces when it's closed (I've already built myself such a workbench [flutterby.com], it's just a large cabinet in my livingroom when I'm not working on stuff).

      Lots of shelves/cabinets and lots of storage, I've got gobs of projects and parts for projects, and I want to keep them organized and close to my life, but I don't want to have to have separate spaces for entertaining and for living, 'cause that's just spending money on half-used space. I haven't actually lived in or used a house with these amenities, but since a lot of projects seem to happen on the floor anyway, I think I'd like hatches or similar floor storage.

      However, no unnecessary nooks or hallways or connectors, I want my rooms rectangular, easy to clean, with simple openings between spaces. If the climate demands it (and most do), I like to compartmentalize the house for heating and cooling (and maybe here's your application for technology, a centralized place that I can say "heat the living room, let the dining room and bedroom sit at 50 degrees"), but I don't buy into this crap that some architects push about hallways to provide transition areas in between parts of the house. Make it a door or an opening with a curtain and be done with it.

      I don't need a large kitchen, but I want prep room on both sides of the stove, and a veggie sink as well as a clean-up sink. Whatever the entrance to the house, I want a little space, maybe just a few feet of hall, with shelves for shoes by the front door.

      Technology-wise, the only really geeky thing I want is a smarter cat door (Yes, I know about Flo Control [quantumpicture.com], but I'd settle for "after dark, opens from the inside only"). I want room to run cables under the floor and through walls, as I'm sick of slap-dash phone/cable installations run under the siding around the outside of the house, and I want lots of power outlets, but I'm less concerned with built-in lights or any fancy technology to switch them; I'm fine with having desk lamps and similar per-application lamps. Don't build crap into the house, as it'll only be made obsolete (and this especially applies to lighting technologies right now). If you do have built in lights, they should be able to make that room like daylight; my alarm clock is currently a big bank of daylight balanced flourescents, and when that lights up the room I'm happy, even in the doldrums of the rainy season.

      I want good fitting doors, double-paned glass, good insulation (for conventional construction types, I'm interested in the folks doing 2x6 studs at 19.whatever centers, more room for insulation, cheaper materials costs). Yes, I know that a house needs to breathe, but let's make that a specific function of the design, not a byproduct of skimping on materials.

      And, if I go specific to my particular needs, parking for a bunch of bicycles out of the elements, including long ones (tandem/recumbent).
  • Xanadu of course. No, not that Xanadu. [wikipedia.org] THIS [wikipedia.org] Xanadu.

    Just imagine! A home with a built in Apple II computer, where you can watch Xanadu in your kitchen on a 10" built-in screen! What could be better? [wikipedia.org]

    Xanadu, your neon lights will shine...
    • So, is the rollerskating rink contained in a separate building, or is it in the basement or something?
      • I kind of screwed up the formatting on that one. The first link points to Bill Gates' dream home, the second link points to the Xanadu tourist attractions that were in Wisconsin Dells and Florida, and the third link is a joke about watching Xanadu the movie inside of Xanadu, the ancient "house of the future". :-)
        • It's not even rubble anymore. It took them a day to bulldoze it, and another two to cart the trash (i.e. the entire house). If you've ever seen one of these sad, fibreglass visions of the future, you will thank the powers that be they never caught on. I think the guy made a few bucks touting them to the tourists as something to see but, couldn't have been much.
  • by debest (471937) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:40PM (#14892412)
    I wouldn't want a complete turn-key solution, I'd want to have the infrastructure in place so that I could tinker as I chose.

    My new house would have a wiring closet/server room that would be the electronic equivalent of the furnace/AC/water heater room. There would be racks and/or cabinets for various computers and A/V equipment. The room would be properly ventilated. The house would be wired to hell and back before walls went up.

    Then leave me to my devices. I'll handle the rest!
    • And you'd NEVER have everything working right, as you'd be constantly taking it apart and redesigning it. Your a gentoo user arn't you?
    • Really what you'd want is a lot of conduit running throughout the house, preferably metallic stuff, and run totally independent of the power lines. End-run it all back to some central place, like a corner of the basement or a big server closet, and you'd be able to run anything you wanted. Analog audio, coax, twisted-pair, fiber ... Just remember to leave a bunch of pull lines in the conduit.

      Frankly what most geeks want, I think, is a home that's built more like a commercial or industrial structure. Raised-flooring or double-hung cielings, for instance, aren't exactly aesthetically pleasing but make network installation a lot easier than it is in the typical home. My rationale would be this: sure, raised flooring and exposed metal conduit aren't seemly, but they're a lot better than having an exposed tangle of wires, and that's the alternative if you build homes the typical way (with the wires laid in holes bored in the wall studs).

      Actually I've always thought the ultimate geek dwelling would just be a single floor of some old industrial buidling; someplace where you could hang cable trays directly from exposed cieling beams. (Not to mention 3-ph 480V power, for when you pick up that surplus Cray on eBay.)

      I guess if you go down that route, you'd pretty much have to give up on ever getting laid there, though.
      • Actually I've always thought the ultimate geek dwelling would just be a single floor of some old industrial buidling; someplace where you could hang cable trays directly from exposed cieling beams. (Not to mention 3-ph 480V power, for when you pick up that surplus Cray on eBay.)

        Wow, you just described exactly what i would do if i won the lottery. Buy some old 5 story warehouse, the kind with a ton of little windows (GIS warehouse windows, idk if theres a proper name for them). I'd just gut it, live on th

  • Keep it simple... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:41PM (#14892436) Homepage
    A touch screen near the door that allowed me to walk in, and pick from a simple list of pre-programmed profiles for lights, music, and TV.
  • by Terminal Saint (668751) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:50PM (#14892540)
    I'd like my home to be a 1:1 scale mock-up of a Firefly class transport. But then I'm a nerd...
  • SImple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bobs666 (146801) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:52PM (#14892568)
    A 40 Foot (12m) catamaran sail boat.

    That way should I not like my neighborhood, I can move to a new one.

    That and live like the turtles, taking my house with me as I visit places across the sea.

    • That and live like the turtles, taking my house with me as I visit places across the sea.

      I lived like that for a few years, long ago. I went from place to place by sea, taking my home with me. But I wasn't on a catamaran, I was on a warship.

  • A "simplicity" room (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jbarr (2233) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:52PM (#14892574) Homepage
    No matter what the house of the future would be like, it will need to have at least one room that is devoid of tehnology and gadgets (things like lighting and HVAC aside.) Specifically, no computers, Internet, TV, radio, etc.) It would be a room where you can sit and think, read, ponder, whatever, without the distractions and temptations of technology. A place where one could "focus"--reminding us we shouldn't completely rely on technology for everything. While I certainly love Techmology, there are times when I just have to get away from it for sanity sake.

    -Jim
    http://jimstips.com/ [jimstips.com]
    http://gmailtips.com/ [gmailtips.com]
    • by stevey (64018) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:13PM (#14892806) Homepage

      My plan when I went looking for the place I eventually bought was to make sure the bedroom was empty. Have a rectangular room a big wooden four-pster bed in it and nothing else.

      Real life interfered a lot, so I have to have clothes, books, and even a computer desk in there at the moment - but one day I will own a house which has a room which is literally just a bed-room.

      Perfect for reading/cuddling/relaxing in. With nothing to distract or tidy.

    • I agree. I would love a library that has floor to ceiling bookshelves and very minimal furniture. I'm thinking two big leather chairs with a light in between them. Nice big oriental rug on the floor. Shelves lined with books and the cool little things you pick up while traveling. No computers. No radios. I real, honest-to-god library like you see in some of the historical homes in old cities.
  • by eric76 (679787)
    What would be cool would be a home dug out of the side of a canyon.

    Have a winding passage through the rock between every room.

    Instead of wallpaper or monotonous single color walls, have a painted mural in every room from floor to ceiling.

    Maybe a small underground stream flowing through the living room.
  • I want CD quality audio in every room, all served off a central Terabyte server (no individual CDs). RF remote should work from anywhere in house and control audio, video, lighting, and climate control. I also want the system to keep track of where everybody is in the house, and have their audio preferences follow them from room to room. Extra credit for turning on/off the lights and adjusting the zonal climate control as I enter/leave a room. Ideally, household automation should pay for itself in a few yea
    • Oh, and one more thing -- the audio should automatically mute itself when the phone goes off hook, and unmute when the phone is hung up.

      It would be better if it went on hold so you didn't miss anything. Aside from that, nice idea.

  • My requests (Score:5, Interesting)

    by egomaniac (105476) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:53PM (#14892588) Homepage
    Considering that the first things I did when I moved into my house were to build a movie theater in the attic and wire the whole house for audio, video, and Internet, I'm definitely in your target market ;-).

    Here are the things I would love to have but am too lazy to have actually gotten around to:

    The ability to wirelessly stream TV from any of my DVRs to any of my laptops.

    Ringing the doorbell should automatically pause any television, movies, or music playing and bring up the front (or side) door-cam

    Similarly, video and audio should pause when the phone rings.

    Be able to use any device in my house as the source for my whole-house audio-video system (currently only the devices in my living room system can function as sources).

    I want a security system that allows me to check the status of my house (hopefully including seeing pictures) from an internet connection. I travel a lot, and it would make me feel better to be able to see that everything is okay.

    And some general comments:

    After playing around with a bunch of universal remotes, I can categorically state that the Home Theater Master MX-850 (Aeros) is my favorite. I have played with a bunch of high-end touchscreens like Crestrons, and actually have a HTM MX-3000 for my theater, but I find that the "wow!" factor is offset by the day-to-day reality that hard-buttoned remotes are easier to live with.

    I don't give a rats' ass about having video screens hidden. I paid a lot of money for my plasma screens, and I'm perfectly okay with having people able to see them. However, while I don't want to hide them, I am perfectly okay with disguising them. I would love to have my main plasma framed so that it looked like a painting on the wall, and I think the ones that look like mirrors when they are off are awesome as well.

    I do like to have video in unusual places. I have a high-def TV mounted over the master bathtub which can receive audio and video from the whole-house network. We don't use it very often, but it's great for escaping from reality for a little while. Similarly, I would like to eventually have a weatherproof TV mounted next to my hot tub.

    I guess basically the bottom line is that I want to be able to get my video and audio from any device to any device easily. I am unfortunately very busy, and really don't have a lot of time to watch TV or movies -- so being able to fire up a recorded copy "The Simpsons" on my laptop (without the bother of downloading a torrent or ripping a DVD) would make it easier for me to enjoy those few minutes I do have.

    Now, that said, I have no intention of actually work with a company like yours. I mean no offense, but in my experience, installation companies like to choose absolutely ridiculously expensive equipment and spend far too much time trying to maximize their profits. The simple fact is that in many cases white paint (cost: $20) provides a projection surface superior to even the much-vaunted Stewart Firehawk (cost: $thousands), and yet I don't think there is a theater company in the world that would actually admit that.

    My screen (160" with an Infocus 7205) is white paint. Sherwin Williams Ultrapaint, to be precise. It looks like a real screen, because I have the projection surface framed off with duvetyne tape and the rest of the wall painted dark blue, and I have had very knowledgeable people comment that it's the best image they have ever seen. And it's just white paint. Similarly, my DVD player cost me $50. The output is completely and utterly indistinguishable from a $1500 Denon (and yes, we have run blind tests -- nobody could tell the difference). So I'm very jaded about the home theater industry in general.
    • Re:My requests (Score:5, Informative)

      by deman1985 (684265) <dedwards&kappastone,com> on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:11PM (#14892792) Homepage
      I'm hurt!
      Now, that said, I have no intention of actually work with a company like yours. I mean no offense, but in my experience, installation companies like to choose absolutely ridiculously expensive equipment and spend far too much time trying to maximize their profits
      Indeed, it is an image that is unfortunately associated with my company's industry all to often. Installers have come to recognize that the easiest way to make a quick buck is to go after the customers with deep pockets who want to show off. Someone who wants to show off doesn't want to have the same DVD player, projector or audio system as the average joe, even if it is professionally installed. As a result, most installers don't cater to projects under $5k, and shudder at the thought of using equipment from the likes of Sony.

      While I can't deny being guilty of trying to push the higher end equipment myself, I've made sure to set my company up to offer people a wide range of options and I don't set any minimum cut off. If someone already has all the equipment they want and just want their wiring redone, I'm more than happy to take on the project. That doesn't mean I don't prefer and bend over backwards more for customers who want the whole package, though. And, in some applications, there just aren't that many low-cost options for off-the-shelf automation equipment that works reliably; that's why I hope to extend my company into manufacturing eventually.
      • Re:My requests (Score:4, Informative)

        by egomaniac (105476) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:37PM (#14893055) Homepage
        For me, it's not about the money per se but what I actually get for it. My theater cost me about $70,000, which certainly isn't super-high-end, but I expect it was enough to have gotten most installers' ears to perk up.

        But because I did it myself and carefully selected components with overall value in mind, I have a theater which (as far as I'm concerned) blows away a lot of $250,000 theaters. Not all of them, certainly, but a lot of them. I used a cheap-ass DVD player because that's all you need, a pretty good but not stellar projector because I expected to throw it away in a few years when better models come out, and absolutely amazing speakers because they are a mature technology which can already reproduce sounds better than my hearing can distinguish them and I mean to hang on to them for life. And no screen at all, because with a nice flat wall, a completely light-controlled room, and a bright projector, a screen provides literally no advantage (it's plenty bright with a gain of 1.0, so increasing gain would merely serve to produce hotspotting).

        Again, truly no offense meant by my earlier comment.
    • The integrated house always comes down to "lots of televisions, audio and remote controls."

      I always wonder why people don't shoot for hi-tech that is truly integrated, mostly hidden and mostly about efficiency, not bling. Say, smart, zoned HVAC, super-efficient insulation and windows (say, even the LCD dimmable variety)--and to that effect, just a general attention to using advanced materials, design and techniques in the construction of the building itself, not just more gizmos in a standard sheetrocked Mc
    • If you think the Stewart screens are a rip off, but you still want something with a higher gain than white paint, check out Screen Goo [goosystems.com]. Judging from the DIY slant of rest of your post, I think it would be right up your alley.
  • by prurientknave (820507) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:55PM (#14892610)
    I want a futuristic home that pays its own property taxes. that way i can live in it forever.
  • I love the idea of "green" backup power via wind and/or solar so that a power outage will no longer mean that I'm without PC/TV/fridge/water/etc. I'd like one of those flash water heaters, too, so that I only heat as much water as I need. And can I have windows that automatically adjust to the outdoor light level, with optional manual override? Oh, and I don't need carpets, so how about one of those cool radiant-heat under the floor systems?
  • by ThyPiGuy (870924)
    I'm a EE senior specializing in controls and also working for a small scale home automation company. My senior design project is a built from scratch auomation system offering wireless light control, temperature control, and media (IR) control. It will also provide energy monitoring.

    The fun part about the project is coming up with ways to intereact with the system. I want to make it as scalable and expandable as possible, allowing any hobbyist to add functionality as they choose. How would you reader
  • by SatanMat (757225) <PowellS@gmail.com> on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:06PM (#14892733) Journal
    As EVERY good geek shold know Alton Brown shold design the kitchen to be mulitasked, and well hacked.
  • Given that most people's spending habits (or abilities) don't cover what's currently available, perhaps you should focus on making current technology more affordable, rather than trying to invent new gizmos?

    There are lots of things I could do today that I can't afford to. For instance, I'd love to be able to put a bunch of wireless cameras throughout the house that can be remotely activated and viewed on a handheld. That would allow my wife to keep an eye on our kids without having to search through the

    • Out of curiosity, what would be a feasible price point for something like what you described?

      I don't disagree that the pricing on much of the currently available home integration technologies is out of reach of most consumers. My ultimate goal with my company is to eventually move into the design side of integration equipment and make the technology more widely accessible, but that is some time off. My personal belief as to why it is so "overpriced" in comparison with PC's and more common consumer electro
  • by Zitchas (713512)
    Well, for the actual house design, I think we all have our own desires as to that, and probably for the better. As far as technology itself goes, there's a fair number of extras I'd love to have in my house. Most of these would, ideally, not be overly visible changes in decor or anything. Technology is good, but I like to keep it low profile.

    1) The entire house being a Faraday Cage [wikipedia.org] would be very nice. I'm not sure how hard it would be to build it perfectly without doing silly things like getting rid of w

  • Moonbase Alpha [space1999.net]
    • Feh.

      The right two words are "Death Star."

      Because I like having a lot of room, deep chasms without guardrails, planet-destroying lasers, but I don't like the countryside. Too many trees, and not enough lasers.
  • Self-sufficiency (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Carik (205890)
    I've spent quite a lot of time thinking about this recently, as I'm getting ready to move out of a condo, into a house.

    I'd like a house which is relatively self-sufficent: grid connected is fine, but I want solar/wind/hydro backup power, and a good battery bank so when the power lines go out, I can keep reading without having to dig out the candles. Something that's cheap to heat would be a plus, too: either high insulation values, or good passive-solar heating, or, more ideally, both. Sustainable heatin
  • I programmed one of my servers to notice if I'm logged on to the computer at work. If I am then it relaxes the temperature setpoint. When it sees me log off it returns the setpoint to normal so that the house is comfortable when I get home.

    I don't have to do anything special; it simply notices whether I'm online at work or not and reacts accordingly.
  • 1. As far away from the rest of humanity as possible.

    All other considerations are secondary. Crew expendable.

  • Camouflagellation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:30PM (#14892984) Journal
    "If you had access to an unlimited budget, what would you spend money on to make your home stand out? "

    Everything in my power to make it NOT stand out. I want the benefits of high-tech with the clean living of low-tech. One of my favorites are the speakers that you install in your walls, and then pain over the fronting when you paint your walls. Totally invisible, and great for playing pranks on unsuspecting houseguests.

    The only constraint on everything being hidden would be that everything needs to be easily accessible for tinkering/servicing.

    My biggest pet peeve, however, is the control systems for a lot of home electronics setups. I don't want to have to access my PC to change the thermostat setting, nor do I want to have a ridiculous remote or set of remotes. I would like to be able to control everything via my cell phone or PDA, locally or remotely.

    Finally, I want an army of fembots at my disposal, along with a place to store them.
  • by The Fun Guy (21791) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:30PM (#14892985) Homepage Journal
    One where the mortgage has a stamp on it that reads, "Paid in Full".

    (28 years and 3 months from now, I'm gonna tell the bank to KMA!)
  • would be designed by someone who knows what she is doing [amazon.com].

    (The link is safe to click. T'was the first hit at google.)
  • A company named Hidden Passageway [hiddenpassageway.com] recently came to my attention/
  • by jmhewitt (811760) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:45PM (#14893130)
    Realtor: This is the Hot Chicks Room. The breakfast table's just over this way...
    Wife: Excuse me? What was that room again?
    Realtor: Oh, this is the Hot Chicks Room. It's filled with assorted hot chicks, who party in here 24 hours a day. But you'd be more interested in the kitchen.
    Wife: You know what? We're not going to need a sexy chicks room.
    Realtor: Well, actually it's a Hot Chicks Room.
    Wife: Well, whatever it is, we don't need it.
    Husband: You said the same thing about the microwave, and we use that darned thing all the time.
    [to realtor]
    Husband: So, a Hot Chicks Room, huh?
    Realtor: Yeah. The previous owner installed the room in the 80's, and I'll be honest with you, some of the chicks aren't all that hot anymore. However, they are replacable.
  • by metamatic (202216) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:46PM (#14893133) Homepage Journal
    Ethernet to every room.

    Spare cables to every room.

    Triple coax from the roof to the living room, for satellite dish and local antenna. (I had to arrange extra coax myself, and it was a pain.)

    Hookups in the bathrooms for Toto washlets.

    Passive motion / IR sensors in every room to switch lights off after a while if there's nobody in the room, and turn down the heating or AC.

    Bath with thermostatic control and fill sensor. Set temperature, it fills itself and then chimes when it's ready.

    Panel in house that indicates outdoor temperature, weather forecast for the day, whether there's something in the mailbox and whether the mailbox flag is up. Option to have the mailbox chime.

    Server closet with good ventilation.
  • In all seriousness, the biggest things in an automated home for me are (mostly existing technologies):

    Rooms that dimly light when I come in the room if it is night outside the home.
    Comfort zones of a home that are not hard to manage (something like each room is thermostatically controlled, and is allowed to have priority/override concerns).
    Extremely flexible and easy to alter/maintain networking throughout the house (means: wired networking, not wifi (necessarily))
    A household door that can be opened wi
  • Digital Shower (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CokeBear (16811) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:48PM (#14893155) Journal
    I was thinking about how much water is wasted each morning waiting for the shower to get to the right temperature, and it occurred to me that much of that water could be saved if the temperature could be set before turning on the water. The interface could be as simple as 4 buttons: (On/Off, C/F, Warmer, Colder) and a display just large enough for a 2 digit number representing the temperature. After the first time you set it, you know what temperature you like your shower to be at, and on each subsequent shower, you only need to press any button to activate the display, then the up/down arrow to adjust the temperature, and the On button to turn on the water once you have confirm that its at the correct temperature. I know nothing about plumbing, so I'm not sure how it would actually work, but you would at least be able to get rid of those unsightly knobs and have a flat wall there. Am I dreaming, or is this possible?
    • by SuperKendall (25149) *
      The real problem with what you want is that the water sits in the pipes, so you have to wait for older water to be flushed out by the warm water behind it.

      So in order to have hot water truly on demand, the old water has to go somewhere - why not back to the water heater? You could design all your heated plumbing to be able to be looped back to the hot water heater and a pump to circulate it, so you could have a constant warm flow to tap into.

      That would require more insulation and even then be less efficien
  • comfortable
    lots of light
    energy efficient
    quiet
    easy to run wires between rooms and under floors (speaker wire, ethernet, etc.)
    multiple outputs on every wall for ethernet and power
    ability to change the reflectivity or transmissiveness of windows to block out excess sunlight
    lots of plants, inside and outside. Outside plants should be old growth - don't cut down all the trees on the property to build it.
    sound proof, cool room for servers and other electronics
    lots of storage
    lots of closet and shelf space
    runway l
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:52PM (#14893190) Homepage Journal
    I want my home to feel like a home, not some crazy science experiment or an office building offshoot.

    As such I am already in the process of buying my next home.

    the most advanced features, multiple zones for my heating and cooling. Sure I will have the atypical security system and such and a bunch of florescent (sp?) lighting in place of incandescents. The point being, I go home to escape the technology of my day to day life. It is my refuge from reality.

    As such, my TV is confined to a room I rarely go to. Same for my PC. The biggest reason I use my PC now is to play DVDs while I exercise.

    Honestly, too many people are wasting their lives on tech outside of work. My favorite tech is having a nice easy to maintain house and landscape. It is seeing what will grow outside to provide year round color. I get all the tech I need at work. It can stay there too.
  • Rather than assume it's a "futuristic" home, I'd approach it from "how technology can enhance your lifestyle."

    I live on a small hobby farm and I like the "low tech" feeling of living here, even though the entire house is wired for Cat5e. So...

    - Excellent cordless phone/intercom system. Cell reception sucks out here and in summer we'll be outside a lot. Nice to be able to control external lights from the phone.

    - Good audio that's also unobtrusive. I want quality speakers that I can put in the wall in the gam
  • an Orgasmatron!!!!
  • Interoperability (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SWroclawski (95770) <serge&wroclawski,org> on Friday March 10, 2006 @04:00PM (#14893279) Homepage
    What I'd like to see in a home is interoperability between "smart appliances".

    If my fridge has the ability to tell me its internal temperature, I'd like to have a way to query it. And ideally, I'd like something similar to query my home's thermostat, water heater, etc.

    The problem with these "smart homes" is that they often seem to rely on a single vendor having a "home automation solution" rather than a system I can plug into.

    What I want is something akin to Wi-Fi or bluetooth + XML-RPC
    • Re:Interoperability (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fastolfe (1470)
      I completely agree. This is perhaps the #1 reason I have stayed away from things like nice home security systems and decent home automation: I'm locked into that one solution. I can't easily hack it and I can't integrate it into "something else" that comes along later. I'm not going to pay hundreds of dollars on something that could conceivably be obsolete soon afterwards, with no ability to swap out components or add components without the blessing of the manufacturer.

      I recently got a low-end wireless w
    • If my fridge has the ability to tell me its internal temperature, I'd like to have a way to query it.
      Me, I walk the 20 or so feet to the kitchen, open the fridge, and place my hand on one of the beers contained therein. If it's at the correct temperature, I take it out and drink it. If it isn't, I wait for them to cool down. I'll have one while I'm waiting, of course.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday March 10, 2006 @04:31PM (#14893607) Homepage
    Here's a description of Larry Ellison's house. [almanacnews.com] He likes big rocks. Lots of big rocks. He has a hot tub carved out of one big rock. A shower stall carved out of one big rock. A bridge built out of big rocks. A driveway [berkeley.edu] made out of big, precut rocks designed by a program written by CS270 students at Berkeley.

    All this rock moving required years of heavy equipment operations. The construction site looked like a mall was going in. All this rock had to be not only placed, but anchored; the house is near the San Andreas fault.

    The house is on Mountain Home Road in Woodside, recognizable by the gatehouse that looks like a Japanese teahouse. In the end, it looks rather modest; it just has a landscape that belongs to a rockier area.

    So that's a real dream house, built for someone with a mania for big rocks.

  • by kwalker (1383) on Friday March 10, 2006 @04:39PM (#14893691) Journal

    I'm just a geek, not a home-automation expert, but the house I've been designing (for when I'm rich and/or famous) will have quite a bit of (in my opinion) useful automation (In no particular order):

    • The entire system will be integrated and each component will communicate back to the central "nerve cluster" either through a hard-wired interface or wirelessly. In turn, this computer system will keep everything running smoothly, coordinate all house functions for optimal occupant comfort and energy efficiency, and will make all its data available to (only) me for analysis.
    • Remotely controllable as well as having several touch screens at strategic locations around the house. It will have a secure web interface that I can connect to from my desktop/laptop/PDA/smartphone and control all the basic functions. The advanced functions may require a larger screen (e.g. a laptop or one of the touch screens).
    • Integration with my home network. This will give me the added benefit of integration with the car computer I am designing (I pull into the drive way, the house knows I'm home and begins its nightly routine).
    • Bluetooth receivers at strategic locations around the house so a bluetooth-equipped PDA or smartphone could be my remote. This gives me the added benefit of being able to unlock the doors and tell the house I am home by being close to one of the external doors.
    • Intelligent light switches. They will all be controllable from the home system so I can have it turn lights on/off from one of the touch screens scattered around the house, the TV interface, or my remote controls. It will also be able to (de)activate lights as necessary (e.g. Turn on the external lights 25 minutes after sunset, slowly bring up the lights in the master bedroom a few minutes before I wake up).
    • Integrated door locks. I don't want to have to remember to lock up at night or when I leave the house (It's a force of habit now, but if the house is intelligent, it should look after itself). Also, if I'm away from home, I can unlock the doors for whoever I have bringing in the mail/feeding the pets. Likewise, I want automated window shades, so I can (have it) increase or decrease the amount of sunlight entering the house.
    • Integration with the HVAC system, with zoned cooling/heating and remote temperature sensing, unlimited temperature schedule, away mode, overrides, etc. Also a small weather station feeding data into the system telling me the outside conditions and giving me alerts (e.g. reminding me to put on a coat if it is raining or snowed overnight).
    • Insulated, double-paned windows and security doors (and door jams).
    • Increased insulation in the house, especially the outside walls and ceilings. With the zoned HVAC system, I don't want heat leeching between zones. I'm also looking at insulated concrete for the foundation.
    • Conduit from every room leading to a specially-designed central server room. This will be the home for the nerve cluster as well as the other servers in the house. Each room will have two Ethernet drops as well as coax cable, but I can add more later if desired.
    • Integrated security system with cameras watching the doors and the driveway and sensors on all the windows. The system will be intelligent enough to pause the movie I'm watching and show me who's walking toward my doorway; turn on all the house lights if a window is opened after 10pm; if someone comes to my door while I'm not home, the house sends me a picture; or if I'm in the back yard the system can send me a video feed from the porch cam and I can tell the person there to come around back.
    • Integrated telecomm system. If I'm watching TV, it will have the option of pausing and showing me the Caller ID information for who is calling, and allow me to decide to take the call or go back to what I was doing previously. It will also be intelligent enough to route calls with blacklisted numbers or no Caller ID information to the auto-attendant.
  • by fred fleenblat (463628) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:00PM (#14893897) Homepage
    I live in a climate with some big temperature swings, and I'd like to see an automatic way to do something that I have to do manually currently: "bank" some extra heat or cold in anticipation of the next change, usually day/night but sometimes a change in the weather too.

    I'm talking about things like opening the windows on a warm day to let in a lot of heat (for free) then the furnace doesn't have to work as hard to maintain temp at night. Similar for cooling: open the house up at night so that the a/c doesn't have to work all day. Also take into account the side the sun is hitting from and set up fans to draw in or exhaust as appropriate to the thermal direction you're trying to take the house.

    Not every climate has large enough temp swings to take advantage of throughout the year, but a lot can do this in the late spring and early fall.
  • All I want is. . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mjackson14609 (69635) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:03PM (#14893932) Homepage
    . . .the Monsanto House of the Future [yesterland.com]; it's time.
  • by Riskable (19437) <YouKnowWho@YouKnowWhat.com> on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:05PM (#14893945) Homepage Journal
    Never design a house around it being "cool" because that wears off. Instead, make the "cool" factor easily swapped out and replaced with the latest style. The rest of the home should utilize tech that benefits it's occupants in efficiency and ergonomics.

    My ideal home specs are thus:

    * Every room has it's own air return and heat/cool zone with their own thermostats. That way you can "turn off" unused rooms to save energy.
    * Insulated interior doors that are weather-stripped like exterior doors to make the previous suggestion work better as well as provide soundproofing.
    * Utilize the geography of the home to ease the energy burden. If you're building in a hot, sunny environment, install solar-powered water heating. If you're in a cool, dry environment, build the home into the ground to utilize natural insulation. You get the idea.
    * Utilize sunlight-piping to light hallways and non-open rooms during the day.
    * Use fiber-optics to provide accent lighting in the living areas.
    * Install insulated vents so that hot air can be utilized in the summer to aid the water heater and cold air can be utilized in the winter to aid the refrigerator/freezer.

    I have a lot more, but I've run out of time.

    -Riskable
    http://www.riskable.com/ [riskable.com]
    "I have a license to kill -9"
  • by DaveJay (133437) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:41PM (#14894268)
    If you really want a "futuristic" home that won't become an anachronism eventually, there is one (and only one) option: make the house as flexible and updatable as possible.

    That means you can't just run wires in the walls; you need low AND high-voltage conduit that runs places you don't think you need cables right now, and with lots of extra capacity -- and, ideally, that allows you to break through the wall and "punch into" the conduit at any point within the wall that it runs.

    That means you need to allow for reconfiguration of ducting, gas and water lines at will.

    That means you need some walls to be more than just non-structural -- they should be freely reconfigurable.

    You get the idea. The future is DIFFERENT, and your house needs to be able to accommodate that.
  • by nsayer (86181) <nsayer@NospAm.kfu.com> on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:42PM (#14894275) Homepage
    The house of tomorrow looks an awful lot like the house of yesterday. I'm a homeowner, so I can pass along some of my own observations about how I would change my house if I had the chance:

    1. Insulate, insulate, insulate. You can never insulate too well. Even if you think you've insulated well enough for thermal control, extra insulation is also sound deadening, which is nice. While you're at it, seal up the house really well. BUT if you do that, make sure you install a heat-exchanger venting system to replace the house air. This isn't so much a health issue as much as it is an aesthetic one. When you drop a deuce in the master bath, a well sealed house will help make the, uh, memories linger unless you are changing out the air. And leaving the bathroom window open on a cold, rainy night is never a great plan.

    2. Put the laundry "room" (alcove, closet, whatever) near the master bedroom. It takes some extra work and some extra space, but you'll thank me. Especially if you have a two story house. You didn't install the dishwasher in the garage, did you?

    3. Nice big conduits to every room for low voltage / communications wiring. Yes, for today I want 2 cat 5 and 2 RG6, but what about tomorrow?

    4. Oversize the utility inputs as much as you can. We swapped out our stove/oven for a gas model. This required bringing a second gas line in through the garage - a fairly ugly hack. It would have been much better to future-proof this up front.

    5. Tankless water heater. More reliable and longer lasting, more energy efficient, more graceful failure mode. Who can argue with that?

    6. A basement. Obviously in some places this is actually required to insure the foundation is below the frost line, but even in Silicon Valley I'd like to have one for storage and to make repairs and improvements easier. We have a crawl space. It's not so nice. If you have a basement and a single story, then you probably can strike out #3 above.

    7. Attic stairs / finished attic. The trend nowadays in making your house bigger is to replace the attic with a 2nd story. The 2nd story winds up with rooms with angled ceilings and the like, and you don't get to have an attic at all. We don't have a big family, so we don't really need that. But we are storage-poor, so it would be really helpful to be able to conveniently use the giant, cavernous triangle above the ceiling to store stuff.

    8. If you go with 2 stories, try and arrange to have a pair of closets vertically lined up. If your health declines as you get older (a house is a long term investment, mind you), you can convert them into an elevator.

    9. Every (non Amish) modern house in America has a home theater. The only difference is how nice it is. A 23" TV in the den is the home theater if that's where you watch TV. I'm not saying you should plan your house around home theater, but if you know some of the rules of good theater design, you can decide how many of them you can try and incorporate in the place where the TV goes:

    A. Sunlight is the enemy of your TV. The room doesn't have to be windowless, but try and avoid large picture windows facing West or South.

    B. The distance between the screen and your eyes ideally should be about 2-3 times the height of the screen (at least, if we're talking about high definition TV. Sit further away, and you'll lose all of the extra detail you paid for when you bought an HD set).

    10. Let nature help your HVAC situation. Plant deciduous trees to the south. In the summer, they'll shade the house. In the winter, they'll drop their leaves and let the sun through to warm you. Plant evergreens between your house and the prevailing winter wind (usually from the North).

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