WHAT will life in the home be like in 2070?
Very different to the life we lead today, that’s for sure.
In 50+ years so much will change, especially when you consider what has changed over the past 20 years. Some things will be unrecognisable from today’s behaviour. Other behaviours will be long gone as technology takes over…such as manually turning on/off lights as sensors take over this mundane task.
To approach this futurecasting exercise, I have selected a range of technologies that are just starting to appear, or have established themselves in recent years, so as to anchor my predictions on present day indicators. In this way I hope to present a more realistic – rather than idealistic – vision of the future.
I have selected the following trends I consider will fundamentally change how we live (of course there’ll many more, I have just focussed on some that will impact home life).
/1/ Smartphone apps /2/ Robots /3/ ‘Internet of Things’ & wearables
/4/ 3D printing /5/ Renewable energy storage /6/ Sensors
1. Smartphone apps
This is a relatively obvious place to start. According to Statista, in May 2015 there were about 3.7 million apps available from all the mobile/tablet app stores. It’s likely that in 50 years mobiles/tablets will have evolved so that the apps they host will be deeply immersed into our lives. (And as an aside, landline phones won’t exist.)
My first prediction is that ALL apps will be voice activated (Siri will be outdated, but her offspring will thrive) and will actually ‘talk’ to each other – really making it a ‘smart phone’.
The alarm app will switch on streaming music, a radio station or a personalised greeting by a favourite celebrity. A weather app advises local weather and if your calendar says you are travelling that day, for the destination too. Siri’s children will tell you what’s on your calendar, to do list, and whose birthday is coming up. Fitness junkies will be told what’s next in their exercise routine, telling your health insurer what exercise you’ve done, then adding the data to a personal e-health database that provides eating advice based on achieved and targeted health goals.
Apps will handle many daily tasks. For example book personal appointments like a haircut and car service, tickets to shows and the cinema. All service providers will have their own app and most e-commerce transactions are done via mobile. All household appliances will be controlled by a master app (that will come with the house when you buy it). Apps autofill grocery lists then transmit orders to a designated shop that does home delivery based on when your calendar app says you’ll be home. Specials are ‘pushed’ daily from store apps. Got a problem with an appliance – the app will scan a reference code then send a signal to a repairer and auto book an appointment in your calendar. School children will use apps for each subject they are studying. Sports fans will access their favourite team’s app to post video questions to players, chat with other fans, get team news plus buy tickets, merchandise and redeem exclusive offers.
Around the house, each family member will have a smart phone and a tablet loaded with apps to suit their lifestyle and interests. People will talk to these mini-computers, some with artificial intelligence, that will basically become our personal servant. What it will look like I have no idea…but we’re already seeing bendable glass phones (below image of a prototype).
Artificial intelligence (AI), and the reality of what it might mean for mankind, took popular culture by storm in 1955 when John McCarthy, a U.S. computer scientist, invented it.
Over the past few decades inventors have been building prototype robots for use in the home. Today there’s intelligent vacuum cleaners available on Amazon for a little more than US$100. And there’s some nifty little robots called Pepper, Jibo, PaPeRo, Looj, and other silly names.
In 2070 robots will be bought from department stores. In the years 2035-60 specialty robot stores will thrive, but as prices fell and AI technology becomes a commodity, the need for specially trained robot salespeople disappears. At home the robots perform all cleaning tasks, provide relationship advice (especially between parents and their teenage kids), and bring food/drinks/implements to their human ‘master’ on command (via an app of course). Robots have reduced mundane and boring tasks by about 80% – especially washing and cleaning. But they still can’t make a bed, a decent coffee or teach your kid to ride a bike.
Now for something that will really freak you out. Read this article to learn how robots are being taught to be self-aware! By 2070 robots will understand what they are being asked to do. Let’s hope they don’t form a union!
3. ‘Internet of Things’ and wearables
Smart watches and Internet-connected appliances will be standard features of a 2070s lifestyle. For something even more futuristic, check out the below video of a project backed by Google to make clothing with inbuilt sensors. The mind boggles at the possibilities that will come from this.
Virtual reality will be a household toy by 2070. Much has already been written about Oculus Rift, the early leader in this category and a brand that could rival Apple in the tech gadget space by 2070. Homes won’t have X-Box and Playstation as we know them today. Instead they will be VR game machines that immerse players in virtual worlds to deliver the thrill of riding, flying, shooting, running, kicking, batting, bowling, tackling, or whatever physical action can be replicated. And it will include connected gaming that will feel uber-real – without the injuries or fatalities!
For a mind-dazzling array of what’s coming in this space, check out Wearables.com. It has news about evolving tech like Bluetooth-enabled trackable security tabs, e-health apps, and Disney’s Playmation, a system of connected wearable devices and motion-sensor toys.
Many wearables will monitor personal health, and they will be prevalent around the house in 50 years time, such as this heart rate monitor that’s recently come onto the market.
4. 3D printing
Whole homes will be 3D printed, if we are to believe the developments described in this article. A Chinese company has ‘printed’ 10 prototype houses using 3D printing technology for just US$5,000 each! Amazing.
Whether or not the whole house is built that way, homes will be built using 3D printed components in 2070. Instead of wooden beams, they’ll be 3D printed polycarbonate beams. Interior components like doors, frames, shutters, panels, etc. will all be 3D printed on site and to spec. This building revoltion will change the cost structure for dwellings – it will be cheaper and more economical than today’s brick/wood/concrete/glass structures.
Food! Yes, 3D printed food will be served in the homes of 2070. In this article a Columbia professor is quoted as saying “The technology is getting faster, cheaper, and better by the minute. Food printing could be the killer app for 3D printing.” I know – the thought of it is not pleasant as it revives memories of Star Trek style computer-generated mash.
For the ladies of the house, doing her makeup will be completely different thanks to 3D printing. In fact, the first product is on the market now – take a look at the MODA™, the world’s first digital makeup artist by combining advanced 3D printing and facial-scanning technology with an integrated smartphone app (of course – apps rule in the 2070’s!).
For some additional thoughts of mine on 3D printing, check out my earlier blog post.
5. Renewable energy storage
It’s inevitable that by 2070 all homes will have the option of generating their own power from the sun and/or wind, or choosing to tap into a mini-grid RE system that may include bio-fuels or hydro-based energy. Community-based generators will power small communities like an apartment building, an office building, a neighbourhood or a country town.
By 2070 renewable energy storage capability has achieved the ‘holy grail’ of large scale storage in areas where sun and wind are intermittent/unavailable for long periods. As this article in Cosmos Magazine says, “The energy revolution has begun”, prices are rapidly falling and “Change is happening very quickly.” For the latest updates on this very fast moving tech, check out Energy Storage News at RenewableEnergyWorld.com.
This maybe what a self-powered house looks like in 2070?
Future homes will have sensors everywhere. There will still be smart sensors that turn on/off lights as we enter/leave a room or walk along a path at night. Plus sensors will support many household tasks – Heating and cooling. Security (fingerprint and retina scanners, voice recognition, and motion sensors). Fire alarms (remotely linked to the local fire station).
Sensors will offer more personalised experiences in future homes. Near Field Communications (NFC) or iBeacons will provide residents with environments and services tailored to the identified person in the vicinity. Music streaming starts when a teenager walks into their room. Walls will change colour and artwork (much like Bill Gates’ house today), and the virtual fish tank holds thousands of different types of fish depending on your taste.
A wealth of info and future predictions about the smart sensor market can be found here.
This video from Corning has been around for some time but still holds some fascinating ideas about what homes of the future might be like –
Kitchen of the Future is Ikea’s concept of the kitchen in 2025. And beyond!
For some far more serious crystal ball gazing, read what John Markoff has to say about the future. Especially regarding robotics.
I am sure I have merely scratched the surface of this topic. How else will the home of 2070 change from the typical Western home we know today? Certainly it will be a future that’s infused with technology in all walks of life. Some might say it will be a pure ‘digital life’. Post your ideas and thoughts below.