Master Of Your Domain

Plugged In

The digital revolution is playing a huge part in the fully automated home of the future. Down the road, all kinds of consumer digital devices should be fully compatible with your in-home network and home automation system, Schmidt says.

For instance, expect to plug your digital camera into a dataport in your home and download all your digital images to a network storage device that acts as a digital photo album, storing all your favorite business photos or your important graphics. Or access important data or images on the server from your HDTV set.

New wireless "workpads," similar in size and function to 3Com's PalmPilot, could be used more commonly in homes as well. Say you're carrying your workpad as you enter the TV room. A motion sensor in your home's security system could detect your presence, activating the entertainment console that wirelessly routes the latest television programming to your workpad. Tap on your workpad, and it would automatically turn on the TV show you want to see.

Other so-called network appliances, or thin servers, will plug into your home network to provide a variety of business and entertainment functions. The possibilities are endless and undeniably attractive: video servers to store all your favorite movies for viewing on-demand or music servers that store MP3 audio files and act as a "digital jukebox."

Of course, there's a long way to go before all this can happen. Standards for common household and consumer devices to connect to home networks, usually wirelessly, must first be adopted. Moreover, high-speed home networks and broadband information pipes into the home must become more commonplace as well.

Still, there's no denying we're currently laying the foundation for the fully automated home. All the crucial technologies are quickly coming into play as well, paving the way for what will certainly be a whole new, much smarter way of living and working from home in the 21st century.

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