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Communications Hardware Technology

South Korea's Home of the Future 112

An anonymous reader writes to mention a BBC article, looking at South Korea's vision of the home of the future. Their vision includes the use of many recent advances in interface technology, networking, and wireless communication. The difference? Unlike the high-tech demo homes we've discussed in the past, 100 of these units have already been built. Another 30,000 high-tech flats are in the planning stages, to be completed by 2008. From the article: "Here, everything is voice activated, and the fridge can provide you with recipes which use the ingredients inside, and let you know if your food is out of date. It relies on the food packaging containing radio tags, or RFID labels, which can be read by the fridge each time it passes through the door. In the bedroom your wardrobe mirror can tell you your schedule for the day, help you select your clothes — if all your clothes have washable radio tags compatible with the system — and keep you up to date with the weather and traffic."
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South Korea's Home of the Future

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  • by 80 85 83 83 89 33 ( 819873 ) on Saturday November 25, 2006 @09:31PM (#16988472) Journal
    and it must have made the cover of this month's Popular Science.

    or maybe it's like HDTV and after YEARS (decades) of being heralded, it might finally be coming. still overhyped IMHO....
    • by hempola ( 974426 )
      Yes, it does seem that every few years "The High Tech Home of Tomorrow" becomes a popular buzzword, yet never arrives.

      Where is the Smart Home?

      Hell, my oven still burns the frozen pizzas, and i have to monitor my dryer constantly to make sure it doesn't melt my socks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ruff_ilb ( 769396 )
        Are you guys kidding? Did you even get halfway through the summary?


        "Unlike the high-tech demo homes we've discussed in the past, 100 of these units have already been built. Another 30,000 high-tech flats are in the planning stages, to be completed by 2008."

        They are definitely implementing these advances - or at least proving that they CAN be implemented.

        In terms of "where is your smart home..."

        Well, with enough money, you can have one too. This is prove that the technology DOES exist and CAN be implem
        • by rah1420 ( 234198 )
          This is prove (sic) that the technology DOES exist and CAN be implemented. It will, however, cost you.

          The cost is not necessarily measured in dollars, either. The biggest challenge with this "smart home" crap is twofold; level of maturity and level of integration.

          The products are not really matured yet, at least from where I sit (working part time on creating a "smart home" out of my current dumb one.) They're similar to Linux; making steps in the maturity direction, but we're a few years away.

          Too, they
          • by c_forq ( 924234 )
            Why do I need everything to communicate? Why does my living room lighting need to know what is in my refrigerator, or my home theatre system need to know what sweaters and in my closet? I just don't see a reason in integrate the whole house - but I do like a lot of the ideas here and wish I had them (my refrigerator being able to tell me what I can make with what I have and when I am running low on something, for example, is the coolest in my opinion).
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Zemran ( 3101 )
              But after a while, when you have got used to it all...

              You get a bad cold and feel like shit and the house refuses to co-operate with you... you are already feeling pissed and now even the house is ganging up on you...

              Time to go postal
            • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward
              Why not? A standard protocol would be very useful in controlling these items from multiple locations (e.g. shutting off the living room lights from the bedroom), on timers. Once you've got that protocol in place, you're 99% of the way to getting the items to respond to events, anyway. You'll be able to program your house.

              Why would the lights want to know what was in your fridge? To alert you when your last beer is removed from the fridge?

              Why would your home theater system need to know what sweaters are in y
              • by c_forq ( 924234 )
                Personally for lights and locks I like the idea of each person in the house having an RFID chip on them. The chip is used for music preferences, lighting brightness, maybe even pictures on the wall (I'm thinking digital frames), and open certain cabinets - such as the liquor cabinets and wine cooler. I personally would not want to be reminded of my laundry while watching the new blockbuster action movie, so I hope your vision becomes reality I hope that it is highly configurable.
        • sure, it's coming. and a robot in every home is just right around the corner. and China can give you a "THIRD-BRAIN" so you can be a smart ass in your smart home.

    • >..or maybe it's like HDTV and after YEARS (decades) of being heralded, it might finally be coming. still overhyped IMHO....
      I don't get it, if it has already been built, it's a house of the past/present,how can it be the house of the future?
  • Nuke Safe? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Saturday November 25, 2006 @09:33PM (#16988486)
    Does it have a fallout shelter?
  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Saturday November 25, 2006 @09:33PM (#16988488) Homepage
    Won't someone please think of little 3yo Sebastion? Imagine what all those radio waves will do to his thin skull!
  • But... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Can you play starcraft in it? Useless to Koreans if you can't!
  • ...the bomb shelter?
  • by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Saturday November 25, 2006 @09:52PM (#16988636)
    One that doesn't require two people working 60 hours per week to purchase. One that has a yard wider than 10ft. Really, does anybody other the wealthy even care about a high tech house?
    • by angrycrip ( 1029476 ) on Saturday November 25, 2006 @10:48PM (#16988970)
      At a decent price (yeah, that'd be a while) this type of system would be great for some people with certain mental disabilities, including head injury with memory loss. Low level alzheimers perhaps? A health care aid is way overpriced for helping you with simple things like remembering what you need to buy or what you should wear, besides being awkward. Ideas like this might help "high functioning" disabled people stay out of group homes or nursing homes someday. So some people care, maybe not most people.
      • by ghyd ( 981064 )
        Finally someone thought of the stoners. No more yukky milk !
      • this would only be good for mental loss or alzheimers patients if they learned how to use it BEFORE their disease or disorder took effect. otherwise, they would never remember the voice commands, to get rfid tags, or even that they live in this smart house in the first place.
    • by Y0tsuya ( 659802 )
      Don't worry. After the great housing crash of 2007-2010, you'll get your chance.
  • Hmm.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by malkir ( 1031750 ) on Saturday November 25, 2006 @09:52PM (#16988640)
    Complete with microphones and video cameras in your television sets!
    • Complete with microphones and video cameras in your television sets!

      This is because the rich and famous seem to think everyone makes sex tapes...

    • Complete with microphones and video cameras in your television sets!

      Of course; without telescreens, how could Big Brother watch us?

  • Does it have a large enough garage for my flying car?
  • At what price? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Josh Lindenmuth ( 1029922 ) <joshlindenmuth@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday November 25, 2006 @09:53PM (#16988650) Journal
    Unfortunately the article didn't give an estimate of the price for one of these hi-tech homes. Would the average (or even the techie) find the incremental cost worth it? I doubt it. We now have much of this technology available to us in the U.S., but few people choose to buy it. The only big difference is that the hi-tech "flats" are being sold as a package deal, instead of the buyer needing to request the upgrades.

    How much would such a home be worth to you? Would you pay the $50-100K or so that the extra features would likely cost? Considering the only way that my fridge would know that my yogurt is spoiled is if I told the fridge I just bought yogurt, it doesn't seem like that big of a convenience (who wants to type in everything you buy into a console on the fridge?). Also, do you really need fashion advice from a hi-tech mirror? I don't trust my own fashion sense, so I'm certainly not going to trust a computer's. My wife suits me just perfectly in that capacity.
    • God knows it'd be a technical impossibility for yoghurt manufacturers to include the expiration date in the radio tag.
      • Oh, are RFID tags common now in S Korea? That's a different story if they are.

        I know they're years away from being included in single grocery items in the U.S. due to the relatively high cost (~$.05/tag). If some countries use RFID for everything, not just 1 per each case shipped to the stores (as is now becoming standard in the U.S.), then some of this smart technology makes a lot more sense. Even the creepy talking mirror is a marketable product if clothes in S. Korea come implanted with a descripti
      • It's not a technical impossibility, but the economic liability doesn't make it attractive. If you were a yoghurt company, would you bother increasing your product price, just for the convenience of the 0.0001% of the market who has a smart home?

        It's a competitive market. Increase your price, and people will probably switch to the cheaper yoghurt brand that doesn't have RFID tags.

        • This is South Korea. Sooner or later, that .0001% will become 50% or even higher (I'm sure there are a couple of Luddites in South Korea somewhere in the countryside, so I won't say 100%).
          • It's interesting that you speak of luddites, because there is just as much cost to being a too enthusiastic technophile as there is to being a luddite. What does South Korea gain from wasting money on "smart homes" and RFID chips in every product? They don't really benefit people in any significant way, but add costs to the economy. So, if it is popular, it may actually be a loss to society overall.
            • Well, I'd suppose it'd be helpful to those who have trouble doing everything on their own (elderly people) that can let the house coordinate things like cooking (auto-adjusting kitchen appliance settings based on RFID in a recipe card), cleaning (something like the Roomba that can tell when the owner is out and cleans up then), and washing (RFID tags in clothes so that people with poor eyesight don't have to figure out what the little tag says about washing instructions). Also, it would help for people who
        • by cooley ( 261024 )
          It's not a technical impossibility, but the economic liability doesn't make it attractive. If you were a yoghurt company, would you bother increasing your product price, just for the convenience of the 0.0001% of the market who has a smart home?

          It's a competitive market. Increase your price, and people will probably switch to the cheaper yoghurt brand that doesn't have RFID tags.

          The economics of using RFID chips in the products you buy have little to do with their use in a "smart home". Rather, the adoptio
    • by ricree ( 969643 )
      While some of the things in the article are the same over the top promises we've been hearing for years, there are a couple appealing things about these houses. The best thing, in my opinion, was using power lines for networking so that all your appliances can be controlled remotely. While one might not care whether the fridge could tell whether their yogurt is spoiled, I could easily see situations where it would be nice to be able to remotely check the current temperature, settings, etc. This sort of t
      • I wonder if RFID is necessary for that. I wonder if chemistry sniffers might be developed such that it can tell if something's gone bad. Rather than wasting a nickel on every package that gets thrown away eventually, the sniffer might work for the life of the refrigerator.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      First off if you want low maintaince and working well then you need Crestron level gear and that will cost nearly $100K to replicate what they have there. a realistic setup will cost $15K with every light controlled by it's self , data collection, and audio system in every room controlled by the same system. Add to that REMOVAL of all the tv screens. use audio only. The house through occupancy sensors can easily determine you are done with your morning showering/dressing and headed to the kitchen, fire u
  • by Centurix ( 249778 ) <> on Saturday November 25, 2006 @10:01PM (#16988690) Homepage
    "Fridge, list available meals."
    "State ingredient search depth"
    "Fridge, Level 5, 'hard-up-on-cash' level"

    "1 meal found"

    "Fridge, show meals"

    "Cheese. End of meal list."
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Cylix ( 55374 )
      Or mine...

      "Fridge, list available meals"

      "There are 214 possible combinations."

      "Narrow search to something I don't have to cook."

      "There are no possible combinations fitting that request."

    • Fridge, list all available beverages.


      Fridge, list all available foodstuffs.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm sure I've played that text adventure.
    • Hey these are Korean smart houses. So the dialog goes like this:

      You: "What do I have to eat?"

      Fridge: " cabbage. Nothing else"

      You: "What can I do with that?"

      Fridge: " can have kim-chi in two weeks if you let it ferment."

      You: "Starvation is always an option, I guess."

      Fridge:" If you were a Transformer, you could suck back some motor oil."

      You: "Better than kim-chi. Hey wait, fridge. Do you have Transformer-envy?"

      Fridge: "Never mind. Besides, Korean babes eat kim-chi."

      You: "No."

      Fridge: "Y

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )
      But does it get depressed when you yell at it?
    • They need to have "smart pantries" as well. Canned foods, boxed foods, etc...

      And then when I go to the smart panty to find out what I can make, it can tell me...

      (wait for it...)

      Ramen Noodles!
  • One thing... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ant P. ( 974313 ) on Saturday November 25, 2006 @10:04PM (#16988710) Homepage
    Who else can listen in on all this data?
    • I'm picking up something on my wi-fi enabled toilet paper holder/cynicism machine....wait...oh it's Tom Selleck, he's in the future -- it's 1984, killer construction robots -- it's Runaway!
    • I'm not sure I want to know what's in my neighbours refrigerator, the dude is well over 300lbs, so there must be some pure lard in there somewhere.

      Do you refrigerate lard? I don't know. Either way I don't want to know what he eats, it makes me shudder thinking about that.
      • Do you refrigerate lard? I don't know.
        I supose so. I don't know what room temperature will do to it, but I know leaving it in the sun will cook it and make it give away a nasty smell (like what happened to the lard used to impermeabilize tents in fairs, and what happens if you touch those powerful halogen lamps with your fingers).
  • High technology is superficially attractive when you sort of think about it... I mean a fridge that tells me recipies! Wow! And my toaster keeps me up to date on the traffic conditions! WOOOW! And my mirror will help me pick out an outfit! WWOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!! But then when you REALLY think about it, it's not even useful. I don't know about anybody else but my daily gettin' goin' routine is pretty simple to begin with. The TV gives me the news, the fridge holds my food, and I choose an outfit based on what'
  • Gee, with this level of automation with RFID tags, how can I get one implanted? I would love to be able to do what I want but I'm not automated enough!!
  • Does it run Linux?

  • Why do they always describe this sort of technology as "smart" and then throw in the stupidest features imaginable? I can't imagine anyone being helped by a mirror that dispenses fashion advice. It's just there because they had the technology to make it possible, but not the common sense to resist making something flashy and worthless.
  • ...Is there anything half as ambitious as this in these United States of America? I doubt, sadly.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rude Turnip ( 49495 )
      We're too busy working insane hours to even care about all that stuff. If I lived in Florida with warmer weather, a large cardboard box would be more than enough home for me to manage with my hours. Posting this from my office on a Saturday night, btw.
  • South Korea is moving home?

    That's a lot of cardboard boxes. Time to get stocks in the paper industry, I think.
  • Parents won't allow their kids in their closet, washrooms, OR schools in England [] if those zany, unpredictable radio waves are going everywhere!
  • by heroine ( 1220 ) on Saturday November 25, 2006 @10:53PM (#16988998) Homepage
    What makes it a home of the future? It used to be that the home of the future didn't involve the gadgets but the way it's built. Homes of the future used to be made of plastic, garbage cans, heat trapping foam, composite polymer windows. They were made robotically using polymer spray guns. By using advanced construction they were going to end homelessness and reduce energy consumption.

    Now the BBC has declared a collection of gadgets that's bigger than the collection of gadgets you already have as a "home of the future". It could be a bunch of gadgets in an apartment, a bunch of gadgets in a car, a bunch of gadgets in a pocket, but since a large government has taxed for it and created a huge program for it, it's now called a "home of the future".

    • The gadgets should be less intrusive. If you need a TV in front of the can, then I'm pretty sure that you are spending too much time on the can. The most electronics I need in a bathroom are a clock and in the interest of energy conservation, maybe some temperature limiter and flow limiter for the shower so I'm not wasting too much hot water. Some people might like a radio in the bathroom, but that's hardly high tech.

      A refrigerator that tells me what I have is a bit much, that's just plain lazy, though I
      • sometimes a small item is behind a large item and I just don't see it.

        You, sir, need a wife to nag^H^H^Hremind you to move the milk when you're looking for stuff. That would also take care of your bare bathroom issue.
  • It's all data, no action. You can query the 'fridge, but you can't order food and have it show up in the fridge. Combine Webvan with a pass-through refrigerator the delivery service can access, and you'd have something. Maybe even within-building robotic delivery, which would work for apartment blocks.

    There's no automated cleaning. iRobot's Roomba vacuum is a joke, but there are units around $2000 that almost work. Get those into production. An apartment that cleans itself while you're out would ac

  • Me: OK, show all the recipes that use the ingredients inside you.

    Fridge: ...

    Me: Well?

    Fridge: Uh, nothing was found that involves a two-month old can of moldy pork-and-beans.

  • by pikine ( 771084 ) on Saturday November 25, 2006 @11:25PM (#16989182) Journal
    I don't consider these human-assisting technologies "for the future." Here are more important criteria than that: (1) being energy efficient (electricity and heat), and (2) being environment friendly (allow natural vegetation to grow around it especially in an urban setting, adapting to the landscape rather than adapt landscape to it).
  • most of this stuff is already being done in the US. mainly using Crestron or AMX. There are large multi million dollar apartments going up (not to mention houses) that are completely controable and/or automated. The only issue is finding a controlable device for all sub-systems, though almost every sub-system has a controlable device. It is scary that HomeNet is being used though. arg.
  • by tsa ( 15680 )
    Apart from the fact that I can decide what to wear and what to eat today myself, thank you, there is a thing about this house that really worries me. Computers are power hogs. I read somewhere that all the efforts Great Britain has done to reduce its CO2 output in recent years will be nullified when digital TV is in every home in Great Britain. Imagine how many extra power plants must be built in South Korea to keep these houses powered. Not good for the global environment.
  • 100% of Internet banking in S. Korea is using IE and Windows specific ActiveX. If you live in S. Korea and use Iternet banking, you have to pay Microsoft Tax, because you have to use Microsoft Windows. In fact, with respect to Linux penetration, the country is in the Stone Age. S. Korea, Japan and China speak a lot about creating theis own Linux distro. I am reading this for 2-3 years. This is rediculous, because no result was shown. Obviously they are using this card to extort lower prices from MS, but the
  • To gadget-tastic for my tastes. I'll take the Dilbert House [] over this any day. (Assuming that I must live in suburbia. Anyone know of a DUH-like project for city dwellers)

    -Grey []
  • It's my experience that, unless your fridge is really knackered, food will survive a good week or so beyond the manufacturer's date stamp. And some foods -- the versions of French cheeses that you get in British supermarkets spring to mind -- aren't edible until that date!

    Milk is interesting. It goes through a stage where you can taste that it's just starting to go on the turn but it's fine in tea; then a bit later it's no good in tea but OK in coffee. Then it starts to separate into watery and fatty p
  • Uuh, I don't need such a sophisticated "home". All I want is a place that ... ... is far away from any major highway ... is on a road that doesn't appear on any maps ... is in the middle of a forest property ... can not be seen from public land ... has a big fireplace ... has two huge dry and cool cellars, one only I know about ... is marked as off limits, privileged just like all other hideouts of the US Elite.
  • This looks more like a bunch of gadgets thrown together. I imagine the home of the future to be responsive to the enviromnental and security needs of the occupiers. Doors automatically open and close when you approach, if there isn't someone in that room that desires privacy. The house warns you if there is a window open affecting the efficiency of the heating system. The house learns your arrival times and heats the house just before you are likely to turn up. LED lighting adjusts the mood lighting, for ex
  • Well, ok, so all it does is do stuff I can do myself in the same amount of time. It's also likely that having a fridge telling me what it "needs," and clothes with RFID tags (what happens if you toss cold clothes in with hots?), this will take even longer. What I need is a home that can dust, vacuum and mop for itself. Along with cooking nearly any meal I can come up with. Also, must clean toilet and get rid of those weird stains in the bathtub and sink.
  • ... a well-dressed Slashdotter is coming to a place near YOU!

    A wardrobe that can tell you what to wear. Ingenious!

    Now we just need an invention to get people here to leave their basem^Whomes. For other purposes than real-world RPGs.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain