Microsoft campus in Redmond yesterday. I saw a plant with a sensor that notified our guide it needed a bit of water. The plant delivered the information to our guide's smartphone which she then placed on a platter by the front door. The platter became a digital screen that displayed the news about the plant and other little things that people check when they walk into their homes.I went on a home tour at the
I rang the doorbell but no one was home. The doorbell took my picture. My guide saw the image of me on her smartphone. She was right there but might have been at Pikes Market. In this home you don't need to be there to let someone in.
Microsoft Home is designed to be the model of what a home may look like in five to ten years. It's a home that has the elements of touch and gestures to to display contextual data on walls, counters and tables. It is an example of the connections between devices and physical objects. It shows how intelligent systems change the reality for how a room functions and people interact. It's an environment that has a deeper relationship with data which in turn affects our preconceptions about reality.
I took some notes using Google Docs on my Android. Gave me a bit sense for this house as I tapped as best I could on the micro tap keyboard of the MyTouch 3G that I find increasingly unsatisfying. The experience helped me realize that no one could live in such a house now if dependent on a smartphone with a poor interface. It would be unmanageable.
The home is connected and managed by machines that use the physical objects in the home to display what the homeowner wants to view, engage with or display.
For example, In the area adjacent to the kitchen, a picture cabinet uses object recognition to scan 3D pieces. The cabinet then displays correlating images that appear in window panes.
For example, a souvenir piece of the Eiffel Tower triggered a search to display images related to a vacation in Paris.
The tour went on to show a dining room table that doubles as a visual knowledge base.
Digital wallpaper in a teenage boy's room can change when Grandma comes to visit and the room becomes hers.
3D glasses were provided for us to view art and other objects at a gallery that we enter seemingly as if we were there visiting.
Throughout the tour we were accompanied by Grace, a virtual assistant that takes commands and performs tasks.
Much of this home did not feel too futuristic. It all seemed plausible to some extent. It's a reminder of the compute capability that comes with cloud managed systems that can control the experience and command physical objects to do tasks whether with people are there or not.
It's a home that I'd like to live in. But first I'd have to get a better smartphone.