Home of the Future is Test Lab for 40 Companies
Dec 12, 2003
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A new "home of the future" in Amsterdam, called the Living Tomorrow building, will allow investors to test new products, 20 percent of which are prototypes. More than 40 companies, led by U.S.-based Hewlett Packard, British IT services group LogicaCMG, and food and detergents company Unilever, invested about 25 million euros (approximately U.S. $30 million) in the Living Tomorrow building.

The innovations range from interactive televisions, intelligent kitchens, and software, which help to prepare meals; refrigerators that automatically re-order depleted stock; washing machines that recognize clothes materials and colors by radio frequency identity tags; and ambient lighting that adjusts to a person's mood, the weather or the time of day.

In the bathroom, a TV built into a mirror automatically displays cartoons when an electric toothbrush is switched on, urging children to clean their teeth. In the office, a smartcard can be waved over a desktop, which adjusts the height of the desk and puts family pictures on a screen.

"This home will automatically recognize your face and unlock the door. Can we do it? Sure. Do you want it? That's something you can tell us over the next five years," said Frank Kauffman, project manager Living Tomorrow for Philips' Consumer Electronics unit, Europe's largest consumer electronics group.

"The prototypes are still a few years out, and together with the companies that are participating, we want to reach the ideal product," said Joachim de Vos, responsible for the selection of the projects. The organizers hope to draw more than 200,000 visitors per year.

All visitors will be asked for feedback after a tour through the distinctive building, where adult visitors pay 11.50 euros (approximately U.S. $14.00) to get in. Investors will also bring in their own test groups.

Living Tomorrow also plans to open in Shanghai soon, and is talking about opening a home in the United States. (Reuters)

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