The living room of the future
1. THE COUCH
Homer Simpson should love this: Tomorrow’s super-sofa will be stain-resistant and scratch-proof, with built-in temperature controls and tiny speakers that turn every seat into an immersive, chest-rumbling surround-sound experience. Also, all next-gen furniture will have a brain of sorts, explains researcher Michael Liebhold of the Institute for the Future. It’ll be able to recognize who is sitting and then adjust the setting for those with bad backs or, in Homer’s case, an oversize stomach.
2. THE TABLE
Coffee tables are a last-century relic. So how about TV tables? As computers and televisions merge their functionality, you’ll be able to watch and surf on the same surface you used to cover with old magazines. As for those piles of periodicals: Gone, says Liebhold. ”There’s still something satisfying about a book or magazine…[but they might] be available on cheap portable tablets.” And no more complaints to the postman about missing an issue: The latest edition will be updated daily.
3. THE CUBE
No, it’s not a disco ball, but that tiny box in the ceiling will rock your world. ”As projection technology gets better, a one-inch cube will be able to project movies and different channels onto various panels showing stocks, weather, or ski cams in Aspen,” says Thomas Frey, executive director of the DaVinci Institute think tank. You’ll even be able to use the small device to redecorate the place: Project your favorite Pollock or Picasso on the wall and then replace it with a new painting each week.
4. THE GAME
Thanks to something futurists call glyphic media, gaming will become a portable 3-D experience. ”We will be wearing light headsets or eyeglasses that will make it appear as if the high-definition entertainment is levitating,” says Liebhold. With gestural interfaces — i.e., no controllers, just hand movements — role-playing games like The Sims and World of Warcraft could be booted up just about anywhere. Though the bathtub’s still probably a bad idea.
5. THE BRAIN
TV? Internet? It will all be on one screen. And — don’t let this freak you out — it will know what you like. Javier Zamora, director general, eNeo Labs, says that not only will your entertainment preferences be memorized, but the centralized cortex of your home will also know to dim the lights to your liking when the family sits down to watch Spider-Man 8 on opening day. And remember that artifact called a remote control? It’s gone. Just say what you want to see out loud and… blammo! There it is.