[EAS]House of Tomorrow

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Sep 11 04:06:40 EDT 2002

Subject:   House of Tomorrow

(from NewsScan Daily, 10 September 2002)

Japan's houses may be diminutive compared with the typical U.S.
spread, but  if the country's electronics makers have their way,
they'll be  significantly smarter. On display at Matsushita
Electric's Tokyo showroom  are a toilet that analyzes your urine and
sends any suspicious results to  your doctor via the Internet, and a
closet that offers clothing  recommendations based on the weather
forecast and your selected style  (casual, etc.). Between wearings,
the wardrobe treats your togs to a steam  cleaning. Other gadgets
include an all-in-one washer-dryer, a kitchen table  with a
touch-screen computer built into it that doubles as a flat-screen 
TV, and a refrigerator with a built-in camera that beams pictures to
your  mobile phone so you can check if you're low on milk while
shopping. And for  those who need pampering, there's the Matsushita
bathroom sink ensemble,  which comes with a mirror that snaps
infrared pictures of your hair and  skin, and recommends beauty
treatments to enhance your features. It even  doles out mineral
water in varying degrees of acidity to best suit your  complexion.
(AP 10 Sep 2002)

This strikes me as pretty creepy while it works, and as great comedy
when it most likely goes awry, sort of in the Woody Allen "Sleeper"
vein. After that it becomes a specialty within liability law. Just
imagine to TV commercials: "Did the clothes your closet picked cost
you a job promotion, ...?"
Apart from the present urgent need to find new markets for
electronics technology, the automated house, or automated kitchen,
has been an astonishingly enduring theme in technological vision,
right back to General Electric's "Magic Kitchen" at the 1939  New
York World's Fair.
And the results of such automation, assuming it actually works for a
while, echo more loudly the words of Lewis Mumford of some 50 years
ago: "By his very success in inventing labor-saving devices modern
man has manufactured an abyss of boredom that only the privileged
classes in earlier civilizations have ever fathomed."


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