Home of future is wired for change
With computers penetrating everyone's life at a staggering rate, it is only a matter of time until they enter the household with the same force.
The idea of creating a "wired home" is nothing new, but lately the steps toward making it a reality are becoming fewer and fewer. Recently, there have been many advances in networking technology and wireless connections that will make the goal of a fully wired house possible. With the new devices that are coming out, like the ones I wrote about in my last column, the devices are already beginning to take it upon themselves to try and communicate with each other. But a universal standard is going to be required before there is a home-computerized solution.
The latest thing to hit the consumer market for the home is the concept of Internet appliances. The first to market a device like this was the Netpliance Company who sold the first Internet appliance, the I-Opener, for about $200 at the end of 1998. Since then, companies such as Dell, Compaq and Sun have all reportedly begun work on their own versions of these products.
These devices are in a montage of forms, but usually offer the same basic functions. These functions can include things such as e-mail, the Internet, voice messaging or even virtual cookbooks. But the products of the future will have much more than these basic functions. As the Internet gains more and more popularity, it will become the source for all of our interactions with others and our source for all the information we could ever want. You can already sign-up for daily e-mails on your favorite sports team or information on daily news in a city in any of the 50 states. So, it is not too unbelievable to imagine a world where you download full movies, TV shows or even digital books — straight to a centralized unit in your home for personal enjoyment.
The Xerox company has recently invented digital paper which, when interacted with a scanner-like device, changes the print until you download another set of pages. And other manufacturers have begun to create Internet appliances that are portable — like the webpad from the Qubit Company that communicates with the Internet through a wireless connection.
Currently, it connects through a wireless modem but could easily be converted to a simple connection with a central computer in one's home. There is also a newer technology referred to as blue tooth technology, which allows multiple devices to "talk" to each other in a universal language, making for tighter interaction between electronic devices.
With the world becoming more digitally minded and anxious for technology, these changes will eventually take shape. Once the bugs are worked out and the technologies involved are polished, we will all see a large amount of change take place in our daily lives. The homes of the future will have many new gadgets and gizmos — some of which have not even been imagined. One thing is for sure, though: The home of the future is about to get a lot more interesting.
On a more personal note, this is to be my final column for The Observer here at Notre Dame. After being the network administrator for two years, this was a welcomed break from fixing the daily problems that we have here.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading the topics I discussed or that you at least read part of them. But most importantly, I hope that at least when you read my column you learned something from it. I am always happy to "talk tech" with anyone, which often annoys my family, friends and counterparts.
To all the other graduating seniors out there, congratulations and good luck. And, to all who we leave behind, remember that your time here is short and savor it while you can. Thanks for reading, and I will see you in Cyberspace.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Scene Stories for Monday, May 1, 2000