REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 6, 2000 — If you’re like most busy people today, you’re spending a lot of time managing the very devices that were designed to liberate us from mundane tasks. From basic home appliances to computers and electronics, nearly all of these
devices, which have become embedded in our daily lives, require hands-on attention to learn, operate, monitor and upgrade.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, according to Microsoft officials. The home of the near future will bring together new and existing technologies to make daily life easier, safer and more fun.
Today, a prototype home of the future is being showcased on Microsoft’s Redmond campus. Simply named the
this concept family home is designed to present the company’s vision of better living through technology that is becoming more personal and useful.
“The Microsoft Home highlights how people can benefit from the conveniences made possible by new technologies,”
says Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s senior vice president of Consumer Stategy.
“It will be possible for people to save time and effort, be informed or entertained, or communicate with others any time, anywhere, using any device.”
The Microsoft Home brings together a broad range of technologies, products and services that work together to make life easier and more enjoyable for all family members. For example, according to Microsoft Home spokespeople, people will be able to monitor and control the status of every connected device from nearly anywhere. Using PCs, televisions, wall-mounted room controllers, portable tablets and even vocal commands, family members will be able to adjust their home environment, including heating, cooling, lighting and security. They will also be able to adjust all entertainment media and communications, including computers, telephones, televisions, music, videos, photos, games, email and the Web. Without leaving their house, people will also be able to check on other locations, such as their vacation cottage or the home of an elderly relative who needs care.
When they’re ready to go out, family members will be able to use a single button to put all home systems in their
state, reduce lights and temperature, turn off connected devices such as the coffee pot, arm the security system and secure the entry points, according to Microsoft officials. And at night, they will have the piece of mind of checking the front door and lights from the convenience and safety of a bedside control tablet.
Moreover, people will be able to use bio-security identification such as an iris scanner to do far more than is currently possible with a standard key. For example, because all of the appliances and devices will be connected, they will be able to react to the individual needs of each family member entering the home, room or area. Family members will be able to listen to specific messages, set lights to their preference, be reminded of a personal
list and set TV and music preferences.
Microsoft also designed this home to demonstrate how using the Web will become more convenient and easier. A family can have its own secured Web community that allows the family to keep in touch with each other more easily using message boards, calendars and photos to exchange news and information. This family Web community can organize a family reunion, circulate wedding or baby pictures, quickly update holiday plans, spread the news of a child’s soccer trophy and share
schedules to plan an evening out.
The technology in the Microsoft Home will also enable consumers to store all their music on a central unit in the garage or attic, while accessing and controlling the music from any room. Family members can create their own playlists, find and organize music and add new tunes from CDs or download them directly from the Web. People can sample songs before they buy them, and can make special playlists for parties or theme events.
The convenience and safety of home connectivity can also be applied to the automobile. Family members can take the powerful music features with them when they leave home by forwarding their play lists to portable devices or the car. Voice command technology gives drivers hands-free control of their music, from turning on the radio to launching their personal play list or selecting a CD. Drivers can keep their eyes on the road while verbally instructing the system to look up a friend in their handheld PC address book and dial the number on their cell phone. Important email can be forwarded to the car, where text can be automatically rendered as speech so people can listen safely while they drive.
The navigation software will also be able to provide exact driving instructions, alternate routes for traffic-heavy areas and advice on where to find gas or ATMs. And when the kids get restless in the backseat, they will be able to watch a movie using the built-in DVD player or play a video game with a sibling who stayed home.
All this is just around the corner. And when it arrives, Microsoft officials say, it will make daily activities from letting oneself in without putting down the grocery bags to juggling family schedules easier and more enjoyable for family members.