In my future house, I want a refrigerator that will tell me its contents via Wi-Fi, so I'll be able to check whether I need extra butter when I'm at the market. I want a lamp that will turn on when it senses sunset, so I won't have to adjust my automatic timers; I want a garden-watering system that will gauge whether my tomato plants are thirsty; and I want an outdoor rain/hail/snow sensor so I can make better weather spotter reports.
Hungry? Better turn on your linear induction motor and send a metal capsule through an underground polyethylene tube to retrieve some groceries.
That's the vision of Foodtubes, a UK program that seeks to reduce carbon emissions by building a pipeline-capsule system to deliver food and freight. A series of tubes could ferry 6-foot-long metal bins among neighborhoods, entire cities or even to different countries, moving goods at 60 mph using linear induction motors and intelligent routing software.
Smart house tech is about to go a step beyond your average energy-efficiency monitoring systems. What about a house that prepares a fresh pot of coffee when you wake up, plays your favorite music without being told to, and sets the thermostat to your ideal setting? Now that's smart.
Smart-home researchers in the UK want to test systems that rely on "ambient intelligence" -- systems that can learn your preferences and behavior and adjust conditions accordingly, according to Greenbang, a London-based sustainability blog.
In IBM's planned future, everything will communicate with everything. The company has now announced a new software development kit, Mote Runner, that will allow programmers to put anything from coffee makers to environmental monitoring systems on the "Internet of things."