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7 Future Home Technologies You Should Know In Advance

7 Future Home Technologies You Should Know In Advance

A lot of the futuristic technology we see in sci-fi movies is so amazing it’s hard to imagine that it may someday exist in our homes. In reality, it may exist already. Modern technology has advanced to the point where we can now control our TVs, lights and even our thermostats from our smartphone. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are seven future home technologies that everyone should know about.

1. Automated Robots

irobot

    We are still a long way from a full-featured, humanoid-like robot that can operate freely. That said, automated robots already exist and are being used in a lot of homes today. Devices like the iRobot and Neato are designed to autonomously travel around your home and clean the floors. That’s about as far as we’ve come for consumer-based robots anyway.

    Don’t fret, however. A prototype robot unveiled by scientists in Germany does quite a bit more than clean the floors. The one-armed and three-fingered device can pick-up items, tidy up, operate various machines and even serve drinks to guests. An integrated sensor system prevents the robot from clamping down around a human’s arm. Additionally, it can be controlled via an embedded touchscreen, though it also answers to voice commands. It will even respond to preprogrammed gestures.

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    Of course, this is just one robot that is currently in production. It won’t be long before we see more automated helpers moving into our homes.

    2. Smart Appliances

    smart appliances

      As our devices such as our phones, watches and even jewelry become smarter and smarter, we’ll all begin to realize the benefits of owning smart appliances. Imagine a refrigerator that can have a nice glass of water waiting for you when you get to the kitchen — ordered directly from your mobile phone. Think of how awesome an internet-ready microwave would be — automatically tweeting out your quick meal to the world. Okay, so that last example was more of a joke but you get the point.

      You can already purchase refrigerators, washers, dryers and other devices equipped with touchscreen displays and a bevy of sensors. A few of them are even internet ready, allowing you to install and use apps directly from the appliance.

      What’s most exciting about the idea of smart appliances is that they will become increasingly more convenient, learning your preferences and making lives easier. Although, it does bring up a few questions about what big data companies might track, such as what time you eat every day and information like that.

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      3. Lighting Controls

      NEST

        Turning on a lamp or ceiling light from a wall switch is old fashioned now. Provided you have the right setup in your home, lights can now be controlled from mobile devices, touchscreen panels or an automated system.

        NEST, a smart thermostat, can even be programmed to turn on lights in your home and cool the air inside as soon as you return from vacation. Imagine being able to program your system so that it turns on lights at various times of the day or night.

        Advanced lighting controls are becoming more commonplace, though many hope that the technology will soon be a standard feature in new homes.

        4. Power Tracking or Energy Efficient Tech

        Your car tells you when it needs an oil change, so why doesn’t your home tell you information like that? Think of an air conditioning unit that can send you alerts when the air filter needs to be changed.

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        Better yet, think of an energy system that can tell you when you’re going over your power budget for the month. Powerhouse Dynamics, a Maine-based company, has unveiled their Total Home Energy Management program, which does just that. It tracks a home’s energy consumption, associated costs and carbon footprint by the minute, in order to allow homeowners to better manage their usage. It can even analyze appliances and equipment being used in the home and tell owners when they need to upgrade to more energy-efficient products. Furthermore, it’s constantly being modified to add new functionality and become a more useful system.

        It won’t be long before there are more than just a couple competitors in the market and power tracking systems become a modern home standard.

        5. Smart Toilets

        It seems a little silly taking a pot that you do your business in and making it “smarter,” but it’s already happening. There are toilets in Japan that will perform a urinalysis after people do their business, and then inform them whether or not they have diabetes — or are at risk for it. It seems that’s one of the main uses for smarter toilets, keeping us healthy, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. You can learn a lot by analyzing stools and urine. Toilets may soon be able to tell women they are pregnant by analyzing urine, or that someone has colon cancer thanks to their stool.

        Of course, other smart features like automated deodorizers and flushing systems, or heated seats are also pretty useful. Especially that last one, because no one likes to sit down on a freezing cold toilet seat.

        It’s pushing the envelope a bit, but Kohler’s Numi toilet seat is one of the most advanced and “smart” toilets on the market. It includes an integrated foot warmer, heated seat, deodorizer, air dryer, bidet, motion-activated cover and seat, and of course an illuminated touchscreen panel with support for MP3 music playback. Yep, you can listen to music while you’re taking a … well, while you do your thing.

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        6. Centralized Entertainment and Streaming Devices

        Cable TV is overpriced, outdated and pretty inconvenient these days. Sluggish and buggy set-top boxes are only a small portion of the problem. It’s no surprise then that a streaming revolution is happening right now. The future of entertainment lies in a centralized streaming system which provides homeowners — and guests — instant access to their digital entertainment. Thanks to internet-based subscription services like Netflix, Hulu and even YouTube, homeowners can stream content live to their TV relatively cheaply. Of course, it does rely on a decent internet connection, which is a different issue entirely.

        That said, future homes will include a more centralized entertainment and streaming system designed to offer convenience and pleasure. For example, it’s about time we did away with cable outlets and moved to installing a closed ethernet network in new homes — it will happen soon, just wait.

        Additionally, tablet and mobile smartphone based remotes will become much more common as new technology emerges.

        7. Closed and Private Networks

        Just take a moment to consider how many of your devices are designed to be used with an active internet connection. Along with all the things mentioned in this list, that range of products will expand to include home appliances, tools, monitoring systems and much more.

        Future homes will include closed and private network access to connect all of those devices and allow communication between them. Sure, you may have to go purchase a router to get your devices up and running today but hopefully that won’t be necessary someday. Wireless devices will automatically be installed in newer homes, opening them up to a closed network.

        This ties in directly with a personal home security system, which can be used with the private network. Facial recognition software would allow homeowners keyless entry into the home or network. A CCTV monitoring system would allow them to patch in remotely and check their home’s status while away on vacation. You could activate an emergency alert mode via a mobile device if something goes awry. The possibilities are endless.

        Featured photo credit: Electrolux Design Lab via flickr.com

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        Last Updated on February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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