[Fwd] The home of the future

From: Yakov Horenstein (yakov@planet.it)
Date: Wed Feb 11 1998 - 11:35:14 EET

[Technology marches on; this sounds like pure hell . . . what if something
goes wrong? If Chaplin were still alive he would surely use this kind of
material for an updated version of "Modern Times" - YH ]

                         The home of the future
> (Business Journal - Portland; 02/10/98)
> Home sweet home-though the largest investment most people make during
>lifetimes-is dumber than a doornail. At the Massachusetts Institute of
>Technology, researchers are trying to greatly expand the housing market's
>intelligence quotient by creating the "home of the future."
> Helping spearhead the undertaking are Chris Luebkeman and Kent Larson,
>of whom are under the employ of MIT's department of architecture.
>Luebkeman, a
>structural engineer and architect, and Larson, director of MIT's digital
>laboratory, argue that present means of designing and building housing really
>doesn't work any more.
> "I can attest to that after 20 years of designing and building houses,"
>Larson said during a recent presentation he and Luebkeman made to Intel Corp.
>employees in Hillsboro.
> "Our goal with this project is to really take the whole process of
>and building houses from the craft-oriented, labor-intensive, low-tech
>that was based on artisan skills that are rapidly vanishing, into the 21st
>century-specifically with the application of new, advanced digital
> Larson acknowledged that the task is an ambitious one. There have been
>so-called homes of the future with only marginal effects on the housing and
>design industry. But he and Luebkeman believe that the technological tools
>necessary to revolutionize the construction industry are finally available.
> Larson points out that other products-such as airliners, automobiles and
>cameras-have jumped vertically in sophistication by adding digital technology.
> "But houses are, basically, still very dumb," he said. "The most
>sophisticated gadget embedded into the fabric of the house is the thermostat."
> The MIT home-of-the-future-project will concentrate on revising the design
>process so that advanced digital controls and devices can be added to the
>fabric of the house.
> Luebkeman said that modern technology allows architects and their
>clients to
>visualize almost anything in a three-dimensional representation so they can
>view the resulting product from any angle, or even walk through the space
>before a single nail is put to lumber.
> The architect of the future will interview clients and write on electronic
>pads, he said. The information transcribed will be fed into a database that
>immediately displays the structure on a screen in three dimensions. Anything
>undesirable about the design can be easily and almost instantly changed by
>giving the design software new instructions.
> "That's not that far away," Luebkeman said.
> He underscored his point by showing slides which contained computer-
>generated visual representations of structures that have been designed but
> "I guarantee you will be absolutely convinced that you are standing inside
>of that room," he remarked.
> More important than simply viewing the structure in 3-D and conducting
>virtual walkthroughs will be improving design and enhancing intelligence. For
>example, Luebkeman said, you can model air flow from the home's heating and
>cooling system. You can also simulate the effects of its lighting so as to
>maximize its use. "Prismatic glass" may be used to refract light and
>direct it
>to areas of the home where it is most needed.
> Advanced building materials and information systems will be coupled to
>create "controllable facades" that store energy for future utilization.
> In effect, the home will have a "nervous system" that monitors and
>a wide array of functions that make the house more hospitable and efficient.
> Design and construction databases may be sophisticated enough to
>calculate a
>home's "sustainability coefficient."
> All of this means the home of the future will be more akin to living in a
>sentient entity rather than just a building.
> "We really believe that as we move into the information age we need to
>at the house as something you live with," Luebkeman said. "It will have a
>conscious and subconscious system of reaction."
> He talked of wearable technology, such as a ring about the size of a
>band that monitors the wearer's body temperature and transmits that data
>to the
>home's heating and cooling system.
> Larson noted that intelligent homes could be a godsend for the elderly and
>handicapped. Galvanic skin-response sensors would be capable of monitoring
>occupant's condition. Those bound to wheelchairs could be assisted by
>preprogrammed routes that automatically move the wheelchair around the house.
> Larson and Luebkeman made no mention of what sort of impact such
>fortresses would have on the average price of a home.

Yakov Horenstein
Milano, Italy

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