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Mailbag, Part 2: What good is the connected home?

Jan 13, 20033 mins

Readers share their connected-home wish lists

Last week readers expressed a fair amount of cynicism over the Internet Home Alliance’s vision of the connected kitchen. Now it’s their turn to tell us what they do want from smart home technology.

Alain Minodier: “How about an automated house cleaning system, and an automated ‘finder’ that locates the car keys, the book I’m reading – maybe even the kids. Lost things can ruin a couple of hours or even a day.”

Tom Trottier: “I’d like a touch screen radio/TV/PC that sticks to a cabinet or refrigerator door. It saves counter space, and with the proper menu program can suggest dishes based on your latest supermarket register tape, food inventory and expiration dates. It could issue commands to other kitchen appliances, e.g. preheat oven, wash dishes when power’s cheapest, turn appliances on or off and make necessary adjustments to fit the current menu. And it should sync with HandyShopper on my Palm.”

Ralph Mackiewicz: “Tools that help me cook better. A stove I can command to cook an egg over easy or have the turkey ready at 5. A burner that I can set to a specific temperature and cooking time.”

David Green: “I want a flat panel screen in my kitchen showing current weather conditions including radar. It lets me call up the family calendar, send/receive e-mail, control the stereo, scan surveillance cameras, or surf the Web using a wireless keyboard or through a wireless tablet PC interface. When someone rings the front doorbell, a video capture of the visitor appears. If no one comes to the door, the visitor is instructed to call my cell phone so I can offer instructions, like leave the package at the back door. If I don’t answer, the device can record incident details and e-mail them to the flat panel.”

Tim Roussos: “I’d like to download a movie from my cable TV to my home server. I’ll have access to a catalog of thousands of movies, and pay a download fee of about $5-$6 per movie. This way, I could replay movies as often as I like and never pay another late fee to Blockbuster again.”

Fritz Wolchik: “Give me a server-in-a-box like I have for business. I want to centralize all our various e-mail, contacts and messaging. I want to limit my son’s Web and IM access until his homework is finished, and kill it altogether between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m..”

Steven McNutt: “Why not look at connected communities instead of connected homes? Give everyone in the neighborhood a 100M bit/sec Ethernet connection to a shack that contains a community file server, as well as voice, video, security cameras for the neighborhood, and an Internet feed with firewall. Pay for it using home owners association dues.”