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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Thinking Home

The British have an interesting relationship with technology. Britons adopt new technologies and innovative household gadgets more swiftly than any other nationality. Most Britons, it seems, have a fantasy of themselves as a secret agent, an 007 figure with cool tools that come in handy in a tight situation. The application ofscience works for us in this world. We do not need to read manualsor call in atechnician to show us what to do. Our latest toy simply comes to life at the flick of a switch and does whatever it is we need it to do. Problem solved !

The massive popularity of James Bond movies shows the enduring power of this dream. Spy books and television dramas continue to use this formula to top the best-seller lists in the UK. "MI High", one of the latest popular children's television programmes, puts high school students into the spy role. The teenagers use devices hidden in pencils or fake fingernails to talk to their command centre. These gadgets also double-up as high-powered digital scanners and cameras. In a very British touch, these spies even have a gadget that can change the weather they experience during the course of the show.

Thinking homes will rely o n "Bluetooth" technology that allows computers, palmtops, personal organisers mobile phones, home phones, camcorders or automated garage doors and gates to "talk" or share digital information with each other by way of radio waves rather than wires. Bluetooth technology already allows us to link computers to the internet without telephone wires or to connect a mobile phone to a portable earpiece. But bluetooth technology is set to revolutionize how you use your fridge. So, while few of us can say we now live in a truly "thinking home", it does seem probable that we will all benefit from technologies that will one day be an everyday part of a truly intelligent house. The trick for now is to work out which gadgets and devices (which seem to be so smart and clever to us) are the cucumber straighteners, and which the truly indispensable labour-savers of the future.

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