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Most entrepreneurs don't turn off their business minds when they step into their homes. Home computers are nice, but we're really fascinated by refrigerators that order fresh milk, built-in flat panels in every room, wireless streaming multimedia, voice-commanded appliances and lighting that automatically adjusts. As we're closing in on the digital home of the future, here's a glimpse at what it might be capable of--and some products you can get right now.
OLED wallpaper will act as a large color display with changeable artwork, information displays and web content. Microsoft Home, a digital home concept facility, has demonstrated this technology.
Networked appliances recognize radio frequency identification tags on food and can make suggestions for meals, set cook times automatically and reorder groceries when you run out. Networked refrigerators have been available for a few years, but Whirlpool just introduced refrigerators with Centralpark Connection technology, which allows you to hook up, interact with and charge a variety of devices like MP3 and DVD players. It can also accommodate an interactive message board or web tablet.
Biometric door locks mean no more keys: Your fingerprint or retina will get you in. The BioCert iQBio Guardian XL fingerprint door lock from Artemis Solutions Group will run you $300 for a 30-user version.
With current and future technologies turning the whole house into a seamlessly networked zone, the home office is no longer restricted to a single room. The living room TV can double as a monitor for your computer, and wireless internet reaches out to the back patio.
A large-screen LCD HDTV with a high-speed wireless connection lets you access TV shows as well as the internet and streaming media. Eventually, voice commands will help you control your media equipment and room lighting. In the meantime, the $500 Monster Home Theatre and Lighting Controller 300 is a highly customizable remote control solution that handles lighting as well as all your AV equipment from anywhere in your house.
The house recognizes your arrival and adjusts shades, lighting and temperature for your preferences. Currently, the Z-Wave-enabled Hawking HomeRemote system is a wireless solution that lets you remotely control appliances, lighting, video cameras and temperature using your cell phone or web browser.