You know you want a house that's self-aware, self-cleaning, and run by computers that anticipate your every need. Well, maybe the self-awareness is a little creepy, but the rest sounds just fine. Just think - in a century, you'll be able to press a button and rearrange your dining room into a dance floor, or morph your lovely summer home into an armoured eco-fortress. But why play catchup with the Jetsons tomorrow when we've got ten home improvements that will let you build the ultimate futuristic house today?
Image by Stacy Lynn Baum.
1. Guard robots For just a couple of hundred bucks, you can keep an eye on your house remotely with a tiny guard robot on treads called Spykee. It has a little camera, and even a speaker so you can follow your pets around and talk to them while you're out of the house. Or you can snap pictures of intruders before informing them that you've just called Robocop.
2. A computer that wakes you up, kicks you out of bed, and makes your breakfast X10 is a simple protocol that allows devices to communicate over electrical lines - that means it lets a computer tell your appliances to turn on and off. You can buy X10 kits for a few hundred dollars, and control all of your home gizmos via the web - so you could create a program that turns on your coffee pot and starts microwaving your oatmeal ten minutes after your alarm goes off and the actuators under your bed push you up into a sitting position.
3. Atmosphere domes for growing food If you're living in the future, then you need to plan how you're going to live off the grid - hopefully using a geodesic dome, because that's just cool. Luckily, there are lots of plans online for building a personal geodesic dome greenhouse to feed yourself and your family after peak oil and the collapse of factory farming.
4. Chairs that mould to your ass Every good spaceship seems to have chairs that magically mold to your arse. So your house is going to need them too. Luckily, we have "memory foam," which molds to all your parts. It's sort of creepy but definitely does the trick.
5. Artificial pets From Rags the dog in Sleeper, to the replicant owl in Blade Runner, the artificial pet is clearly a sign of living in the world of tomorrow. And of course robot dogs are practically commonplace in the world today - as are robot dinosaurs.
6. Rooms that rearrange themselves You're one step closer to a house that can morph into something new at the touch of a button with Space Flavor's mobile rooms on wheels. These lightweight rooms can be moved around and rearranged - and if you put them on electrified tracks, you could easily control them remotely with a home network.
7. Self-cleaning floors Turn on your Roomba or Scooba robot, leave home, and return to a house that's been vacuumed, swept and/or mopped.
8. Music and lights that follow you from room to room There are a number of ways to get that futuristic feeling of a house that knows your every whim. One of the easiest is to use RFID chips - usually mounted on a bracelet or pin - that exchange signals with small readers throughout your house, alerting your computer network to your location. And then you can use a simple X10-like system to turn on the lights and the speakers as you enter a room - and turn them off as you leave.
9. Biotech climate control systems Remember that silly episode of Star Trek: Voyager where the ship's biological systems get infected by some bacteria that comes from a piece of cheese? (I believe somebody utters the line, "Get that cheese to sickbay.") Well, you can't fly a biotech spaceship yet, but many houses today incorporate "living roofs" covered in soil and plants that help regulate temperature and prevent roofs from leaking.
10. A house that changes shape Once you have a self-cleaning house full of robotic pets and sentries, full of rooms that rearrange themselves and a roof that grows - well, you need a house that can literally change shape. At the push of a button. This house in the English countryside is one such dwelling. It has a shell on wheels that rolls back and exposes a huge living room made entirely of glass. Watch the video to see the awesomeness. Obviously it would be better if the living room were encased in transparent, spun diamond walls, and the mobile shell were armoured - but you can't have everything now. You'll have to wait for the future!