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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 May 14, 2019

        8 Replacements for Google Notebook

        8 Replacements for Google Notebook

        Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

        1. Zoho Notebook
          If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
        2. Evernote
          The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
        3. Net Notes
          If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
        4. i-Lighter
          You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
        5. Clipmarks
          For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
        6. UberNote
          If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
        7. iLeonardo
          iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
        8. Zotero
          Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

        I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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        In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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