WSJ looks ahead:
Researchers and commercial labs around the country are building experimental homes to test technology that could make domestic life easier and extend the independence of older homeowners. Such efforts go beyond so-called universal design, a trend toward building houses with wider doorways, grab bars and adjustable kitchen cabinets that took off in the early 1990s.
“These are lifestyle services empowered by a new generation of technology,” says Joseph Coughlin, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab in Cambridge.
In many cases, the mechanics for the gizmos already exist — mainly wireless sensors, cellphones, broadband access and home computers. What’s been missing, and what researchers now are trying to develop, are ways to harness the hardware to run your entire house with little effort or technological savvy — letting you turn up the heat remotely, anticipating when you want the lights on, or deciding automatically how long your food should cook.