A Home of You Dreams?

 
 
 


What is a "Smart House" and how will it improve my Quality of Life?


Imagine you have a house fitted with a variety of sensors, for example:Ý
 


Each of these sensors is wired to a computer, which can monitor the values and perform various actions using electronically operated devices.Ý
Possible actions of a Smart House might include:Ý
 

How do I build a Smart House?

Solution 1:

One way is to wire each sensor back to the central computer usingÝ separate cable, as shown above:
An interface at the computer allows a computer program to probe the values being returned by each of the sensors, and makes it possible to control the various alarms and output devices.Ý
 
 

WAIT!

But what do you really dream of and what would the

"Home of Your Dreams" consist of?

Will women, who it seems for time immemorial have been inextricably tied to their homes "for better or for worse", finally have the freedom promised them?

(image from Jill Scott's "Paradise Tossed")

The women's movement of the 1970's inspired many women to go to work, outside their homes.  But it didn't take long for many of these "working women to realize that they were working a "second shift", tending to all (or most) of the household and childcare and related chores: still thought of by most as "womens' work".  Designers and manufacturers have long-touted the revolutionary new appliances for the home that will make women's lives in particular less labor-intensive.  But it seems that the more things change, the more things remain the same.  Aside from the cultural issues, there are the issues of who will keep the technology of the smart home running smoothly?

"There are all these cautionary tales out there. The fate of the wired home may depend on what younger people want. As a general rule they are more comfortable  with computer technology. But that technology hasn't quite matured.
The problem is that engineers can design things that work, but they can't design them to work all the time. Things crash. Even NASA confuses metric and English units. In an era of viruses and Trojan horses and Y2K bugs you might not want a toilet dependent on software. You think it's hard to get a computer support technician on the phone now, imagine when everything in your life, from the popcorn popper to the blender to the hot tub to the bidet, needs technical support.
Pause now to consult your 57-page User's Guide to the bathtub."
 

                                 In high-end homes around the country ó think of them as test
                                 labs with decor ó advancing technology is outpacing peopleís
                                 ability to deploy it.

                                 If the 1990s brought widespread consumer acceptance of
                                 in-home theater, wireless communications, home PCs and
                                 smart appliances, the new decade brings promise ó or threat
                                 ó of "convergence," the ultimate integration of everything in
                                 the house.


                                 The most advanced homes can coordinate air conditioning,
                                 security, lighting, home entertainment and
                                 Internet and e-mail even from afar, by
                                 cable, computer and satellite, through telephone lines and
                                 modem connections. Appliances like window shades or even
                                 vacuum cleaners can be taught to monitor themselves
                                 according to internal codes.

                                 Faced with a houseful of gizmos designed to be more helpful
                                 than a geisha-in-training and options as varied and complex as
                                 the Kamasutraís, homeowners are vacillating between childlike
                                 thrill and abject helplessness. Even the adept say they feel
                                 inept.
 
 

HISTORY OF THE HOUSE OF THE FUTURE
(Joel Achenbach)

    People have been talking about the House of the Future for most of the 20th century. In the 1920s and 1930s the dreamers wanted to build the perfect object, a house that expressed, through its architecture, a purity of existence that did not rely on bourgeois ornaments and affectations. They wanted to build glass boxes.
    The great modernist architect Le Corbusier made a remark that echoes to this day: ``A house is a machine for living in.''He didn't mean it literally. He meant that a chair is a machine for sitting in, a bed is a machine for sleeping in, and so on.
``I'm a little bit suspicious of Houses of the Future, because they tend to glamorize existing technology,'' observes Terence Riley, curator of an exhibit titled ``The Un-Private House'' at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
    In 1931 the designer Norman Bel Geddes told readers of Ladies' Home Journal that the ``house of tomorrow'' would be artificially ventilated and thus would have no operable windows, and would use neon instead of incandescent light bulbs. ``Mechanical devices, controlled by the photo-electric cell, will open doors, serve meals, and remove dirty dishes and clothes to the appropriate departments of the building,'' he wrote.

What do women really want their homes of the future to represent?  Who will they represent?  What progress has really been made in the lives of women and their children and how are thse "smart" homes helping to improve the lives of the underepresented in our society?

"Who holds the power and is in control?; in whose interest is cyberlife developed?; how does the
  fragmentation of cyberculture fit within the framework of knowledge of Indigenous
  and other marginalised peoples?; and, importantly, what is happening to women's
  bodies/minds/souls in real and cyberlife - is technology serving women -
or are  we  serving  it? "

Renate Klein

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