SMART TECHNOLOGY IN THE SMART HOME

This modern family home plans leads a secret double life behind the wood and drywall. There’s a digital nerve center built into the Smart Home, that works constantly and automatically to save the homeowner time, reduce energy consumption and make life more entertaining. Smart Home partner Wired magazine served as the Museum of Science and Industry’s technology and automation advisor, helping to identify and procure newer-than-new, state-of-the-art systems and gadgets for the home. (read previous post about smart home here).

Alarm clocks are a thing of the past when the entire home is programmed to rise and shine. First thing in the morning, the home’s Life|ware automation system clicks on lights, raises the shades and cues wake-up music from the NuVo digital music server. The bathroom scale measures body composition and transfers readings to a computer to assist with personal fitness goals. The motorized skylight in the ceiling opens when detectors sense a cool breeze and Botanicalls digital electronics in the plants send a voicemail when they need water. The doorbell rings, and a touchscreen reveals a wireless video feed from the front entry.

Truly a smart home, the PC-based automation system makes it easy for users to add new features and adjust settings. The energy dashboard in the mechanical room offers important information to guide a homeowner’s decisions. This flat-panel LCD screen shows the current use of electricity, gas and water in the home and compares totals with yesterday and last month. This way, users can discover ways to curb consumption.

Alerts sent via e-mail or text message from ComEd advise the homeowner when electricity prices are high, helping to save money and reduce peak demand, which can cut greenhouse gas emissions. Leaving for the day or for vacation? The whole house can be placed in “shut-down” mode, automatically securing doors, turning off lights and lowering heat or air conditioning.

Press pause during your favorite television show in the Smart Home’s lounge. Then in the master bedroom, press play and pick up where you left off using Motorola’s Whole Home DVR, powered by AT&T U-verse.

Not all the technology is behind the scenes. A streamlined, foldable Strida bike boasts an ingenious collapsible aluminum frame so homeowners can commute from train to doorstep, saving time and energy. The Breville toaster offers an LCD countdown to show when breakfast is ready. And the ultra-compact handheld PC from Samsung provides easy access to email, energy information and home control screens.  Even the household pet, a dinosaur robot named Pleo, exhibits lifelike behavior and allows users to upgrade its software.

Behind the scenes or front and center, smart technology is making it easy to be green.

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