Trends: The Roomware and Roomware related landscape for the next 5 to 10 year

Posted on May 1, 2010

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This article is a preparation for the talk I have given at the Next Conference in Berlin in may 2010.

Many subjects will not make the presentation, as elaborate as they are described here.

It investigates the landscape of Do It Yourself, information, information access, domotica, smart houses, biometry, smart cities and cloud computing. The presentation (later to be reachable via SlideShare here) will be a compression of the elements below in a story of 10 minutes.

The big read line in all recent developments seems to be: from centralized production and organized activities and services to Do It Yourself.

One of the important reasons for this movement is – according to me – that high level technology is becoming a commodity. This allows small groups of people to produce high quality goods of any type. This gives us power to build and run our own “Cloud” from home and produce our own clean energy. This will give us the tools to monitor our own health in real time when that is important and correct the ways we use our bodies for the better if we need that to avoid injury or simply like to.

Introduction

“Roomware” in the next 5 years

I believe that within five to ten years, “Roomware” will become common good. Both from the angle of Do It Yourself and from the corporate world. The technologies we now use for the web alone will connect more and more to different kinds of hardware and enrich and simplify and complicate our lives.

“Roomware”?

Roomware is the combination of software and hardware that makes spaces intelligent and responsive: helping you, telling you things on request, allowing you to interact. These spaces can be rooms, houses, cities and span countries. Included in Roomware is linking and using sensors and active devices together and make them interact with you, each other, with software and other people and things. Find out more about where I see Roomware in the non-official Roomware manifesto.

The landscape

Below you will find a collection of the topics treated in this article.

From centralized systems to decentralized systems

The Industrial age introduced (among other things) the possibility to centralize systems. First of all, it is much more efficient to centralize. Due to centralization you can build bigger factories, bigger energy and production plants, bigger markets of trade, bigger systems of money flows, more efficient systems of production and bigger systems of cost-savings and profit.

The trade-off from this economical approach is loss of individuality (no custom made products) and quality (a reduction of products that last for years and decades before they break down). It is better (ongoing revenue) and cheaper (lower quality materials) to make disposable goods.

What will change the game of interaction between us, the things we do online and offline and together with commodatized hardware and solutions like “Roomware” is the current shift in which more and more production means are returning to the smaller communities, from food sales to food making and the production of goods of high quality for lower cost. The FabLabs are only a small example of what this beholds.

Towards local products

Looking at the price of production and the price at the supermarket regarding food, there is a big gap between the price the producer receives and the price you pay in the supermarket. With new ways to do your logistics (for instance ordering online in a pool of producers) creates new openings for local producers to sell their products in local markets. (For instance: read this article)

Becoming your own maker of things – that can be copied elsewhere

The ability to make things by downloading the designs and then produce them in a local workshop for costs almost competing with factory made goods is putting us back to the time where you could buy your shoes at the local shoe-maker, who actually made those shoes. But more than that: it allows the creative amongst us to create their own technologies and distribute those to others around the world, for exact replication in similar workshops.

Sensoring everything – knowing more and more

Sensor data is easier and easier to achieve, collect and combined as each day progresses. This leads to new possibilities to analyze situations in real time: from the use of a house by an old person to the flow of traffic in a city. Changes in these data streams can be used to trigger alarms. For instance if the inhabitant does not move anymore – because he or she had a stroke or fell down, or when a traffic jam is likely to occur if the traffic is not redirected. Using biometrics we will also be able to understand our own bodies much better, preventing RSI, helping us use our body more effective in specific situations like lifting objects and doing sports and avoiding injuries. But with it we can also monitor the health of crops, live stock and food products made from organic material.

Leading active lives and coming of age

Many examples of future domotica solutions aim at taking responsibility from your hands. The space you live in will deal with lights, order the foods and decide what mood you are in to select and play music. The question is whether it serves us to hand out the responsibility over our own lives. Do we really need an automated mom and dad in the shape of Domotica taking care of our adult lives? Giving away responsibility is also giving away purpose and makes it easier to start leading a vegetable life.

And what when you retire? How many people are just simply waiting for their death when they pass 65? With still at least 20 years to go. Sitting still and doing nothing is one of the reasons our organs start slowing down, our mind starts to fall asleep and our bones become brittle. We need constant challenges and impulses for our souls and bodies to stay alive.

Privacy

What we do will not only be logged by what we produce but also by the things we use and do. Due to these changes, how we deal with “privacy” will change as well. Privacy remains a hot issue as we collect more and more data. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to work it out in this post.

Length

This article counts about 4700 words.

How the game is changing: decentralizing systems

We seem to move from centralized to distributed systems again. I will only highlight the parts relevant for the context of this article.

Energy – from independency to dependency and back: from independent local systems like water wheels, wind mills, steam engines and local diesel generators we moved to centralized energy plants. These plants are more efficient than local systems for maintenance and transport, but also make us dependent on third parties. For instance: when the power fails, whole city blocks and even whole cities can black-out. Right now we seem to move back to local and independent energy systems again, like solar panels, wind farms and inventions like the Bloom box. The reason this happens is threefold:

  1. The sources of this (in most cases “renewable”) energy are distributed over greater areas
  2. The technology to win this type energy have become cheaper to produce and easier to maintain
  3. It is environmentally friendly

Data storage – from privately controlled, to losing control, to the private home: Cloud Computing is the great big new buzz of 2009 and 2010. Looking at where we are going with the web, many eyes are looking at what Google (G-mail) and Amazon (S3) are doing and Apple might be going as well with their data-centers. The expectations are that we will store maybe even all our date online at one of those, or comparable services. Currently (April 2010) a respectable NAS with 1 TeraByte of storage costs about 200 euros. I believe that in 5 years time, an Extended NAS (Network Access Storage) will be default in almost every household. This – in your house – Extended NAS is capable to operate as a (remote):

  1. File server *
  2. E-mail (backup) server
  3. Web server
  4. Backup server
  5. Source for audio and video streams *
  6. Data Push-server (based on Sockets or something comparable)

* covered by current NAS

This Extended NAS will also be able to backup your data to one or more other NAS systems somewhere in the world to make sure that when your local version gets stolen, when your house burns down or your NAS dies completely, at least one Data Clone can immediately kick in.

Data Access – from wired to wireless to mobile to immediately anywhere: In less than 15 years time we moved from high cost, low bandwith connections (2 KB per second, N cents per second for each tick of your phone connection) to high speed, low cost data transfer (more than 1 MB per second, fixed monthly fee). We now have acceptable fixed fee internet connections via our mobile phone: which will only improve in the years to come. WiMax and WiFi will be available in every public space and maybe even in roaming-schedules where – when I move around – my portable device can automatically connect to any new WiFi or WiMax providers it will find. Offering me a “immediately and always online” scenario.

Data Networks – from LAN to WAN to global to the independent wireless internet: In LAN-systems, each of these networks were privately owned, by companies, schools and the occasional hardware nerd at home. Transferred data rarely went outside of the LAN and if it did, it went to other offices of the same company via satellite, radio or via cables specifically laid between “A” and “B”. Fast internet put this upside down. LAN and WAN are partially virtual, using encrypted data connections via the web from remote-offices and home to the company server.

The point: You do not need the Internet to distribute your data. When you hook up WiFi and WiMax routers you can create a mesh-network that operates outside and independent of the network we use right now: the Internet. Make this mesh-network big enough and you can provide an entire country or continent with a network that is independent from the data centers that form the hubs of the global data network we run now.

Wireless Mesh Networks are especially relevant for countries and parts of countries lacking a proper Internet Connection. Including parts of Europe (e.g. paces in South Italy and my home village in the Netherlands where broadband Internet became available in 2008) where villages in remote places still use dial-in connections as ADSL is too expensive and not cost-effective yet.

Communication networks – from telephone to mobile to the web: You do not need a phone anymore to call. A portable computer, a network connection, a server and a bit of software like Skype will do the trick.

Production of goods – from local workshops to factories to local production again: we moved from local production to factories as factories were able to produce these goods faster, cheaper and of more constant quality than any local workshop. And so the production of goods moved away from craftsmen to companies to outsourced jobs to foreign countries. With standardized components, the ever lowering cost of CAD/CAM (Computer Aded Design / Computer Aided Manufacturing) the cost of customized production is also lowering. Where a custom made cabinet now will cost you at least 1000 to 1500 euro’s as every part has to be made by hand, an automated process might cut those costs down to a fraction when you can:

  1. Choose an open source design
  2. Post it to local production site
  3. Have it produced for you in an (almost) automated process

We are seeing this development in printing (500 full color business cards, 5000 full color A5 flyers, 5000 sheets of A4 with your company name and logo, each produced for less than a 100 euros and delivered within one week) and electronics (build your own smart things using an Arduino PLC and any type of sensor for under 20 euro’s per component) and automated, computer aided personal production of beer, wine, bread, cheese, shoes and clothing.

Other examples of this shift are Local Motors (designer cars for about $50.000 euro) and myFab (pre-order designer furniture for ±30% to 50% of retailer price). Although myFab – started in France – have their furniture produced outside of France and mostly outside of Europe, I think they are part of this story, as they open the way of small scale / high quality production by a working sales model with 150.000 buying costumers in the past 1.5 years.

Production and distribution of foods – from local to centralized to local: Also, local producers of foods (vegetables, meat, diary products) are starting cooperations and local supermarkets where the goods they produce can be bought by people living in that area. (See this article for an American view. In Europe comparable movements are happening, setup by local farmers or new chains of supermarkets.)

Towards commodity and Do It Yourself Anything

Technology and technological solutions that would have cost millions only 30 years ago have become commodity products today. You can run a web-server at home on a computer costing only 300 euros with the same processing power of a supercomputer 20 years ago, using a high bandwith connection not even available for the fortune 500 a 30 years ago.

Do more for less – more processing and production power for less money: The current and future Do It Yourself developments include and will include :

  1. Personal, mass storage data centers at your house and on other locations of your choice (including those offered by parties like Amazon and Google)
  2. High bandwidth data connections to the world, to your personal home and to your personal data centers
  3. Installation of affordable, subsidized, localized, personal and cleaner energy production based on local energy providers like sunlight, wind, water flow and bio-gases.
  4. Production of technology, foods and goods including shoes, clothing, print work, beer, furniture and transportation (bikes, cars, boats, air crafts)
  5. Building your own hardware and designing your own micro processors – where hardware – for instance thanks to how we build computers – will become more and more plug & play, with clear interfaces for data-exchange between each component, we might see the arrival of “Do It Yourself Mobile Phones” where you buy the different parts, click them together, expand them with functionalities you need without the need of being an expert on that field.
  6. Direct access to any data anywhere (see later in this article) via systems which are connected and on line constantly, giving you information about what surrounds you, how that might help you and offering you several ways of direct communication, direct storage and direct publication of what you are doing, producing.
  7. Smart houses and smart environments (we will go into that in the next part) protecting us for harm, monitoring our well-being and helping us find people, find places and find our ways when we ask them to
  8. Biotechnology and genetic manipulation (not covered further in this article) to produce more resistant crop, better and more healthy foods and new ways to win energy and produce fabrics and materials

The deeper levels of human computer interaction

Pony Rainbow Brave New World – where the Singularity movement is wrong: I do not share the pony-rainbow but also dark (the ultimate super computer will be created and gobble up our universe) brave new world view of the Singularity movement. “Because it it might become possible” does not mean “it will happen like we tell you it will”. The view for instance Kurtzweil is offering in “The singularity is near” might be interesting but also is very single-minded and only one of a countless possible futures we might develop.

Brief

This chapter covers the following items:

  1. Direct access to any data available online and offline while you are on the move
  2. Moving away from heavy portable machines
  3. Moving towards “machines as a service”
  4. Reading the body as an extension of your machine
  5. The environment as your friend (and not your nurse)
  6. The environment with consciousness
  7. Using objects for interaction
  8. Privacy issues we need to consider

DIRECT ACCESS TO DATA

No more waiting – from circumstantial actions to direct access: right now, walking around, your mobile phone is one of the ways to get data from your surroundings. the Dutch AR solution called Layar is one of the first implementations where the three elements of mobile devices, online data and location are successfully combined into something that works. Layar currently has several disadvantages from a user perspective:

  1. It takes time to get your GPS location when you start it
  2. Each database with location based data is a separate “Layar”, requiring you to take extra steps – finding and loading the right layer to give you that data you need
  3. It takes time to load the data related to your location
  4. Due to the power required for both GPS and G3 data access (using the GSM network) your battery life is drastically reduced

Moving towards better wireless network solutions capable of dealing with massive data streams and millions of concurrent users in relatively small areas will reduce waiting times:

  1. Data is immediately accessible in high speed
  2. Battery life is respected and longer
  3. Location based information can be made available immediately

MOVING AWAY FROM HEAVY PERSONAL ELECTRONICS

No more carrying around this extra lump of weight – the ultra portable: Your phone is a computer. A light weight version, but a computer. The function of calling other people is one of the functions. Due to this, our phones are likely the next evolutionary branch of technology for the next generation of mobile computers. This is why:

  1. Low on energy consumption – have a long battery duration so that we do not have to charge every hour
  2. Small in size – acceptable performance – Take your laptop from 8 years ago. Compare the specifications (GPU, CPU speed, memory, possible storage capacity) with the smart phones you can buy today. Compare the size and weight. See the differences?
  3. Will be able to connect to any other device – Imagine you can connect your phone to a keyboard and a screen. Imagine it running light-versions of Office: respecting the capabilities of your phone. Then look back at item 2 in this list.
  4. Will be able to utilize the CPU and GPU power of other machines – Imagine plugging in your phone also connects it to an extra block of hardware, taking over the heavy duty work like an instant hardware upgrade.
  5. Will be extendable with Portable Processor Blocks – Imagine doing the same as step 4, but now for an extra cube the size of two packs of cigarettes, able to run for 5 to 8 hours straight before recharging – extendable with Specialized Optimized Processor Blocks you buy or manufacture for specific tasks.
  6. Might very well operate as a thin client – The question is: why do the processing and running of more heavy type of software on your ultra-portible at all? Thin clients operate as a portal to a virtual machine running on a server somewhere else. All the heavy work is done there. The thin client is mainly the portal. With high-bandwidth (4G – 1Gbit / second to 100 MBit / second when moving) this might be the simplest solution in many cases.

MACHINES AS A SERVICE

Moving away from the concept of screens: It is hard to predict now where the interaction with an ultra-portable computer will move to. For instance: how will we see what is presented on the “screen”? Glasses / goggles are one possible solution people fantasized about. Lenses are another. Direct input to our visual cortex yet another. The next five to ten years will hopefully show more.

Distributed computing on a personal level – where local hardware systems becomes a service: Imagine walking into any public space (including your own house and your office) and automatically connecting to the hardware that surrounds you. Imagine this hardware offering you all the processing power it is allowed to offer you. It will be like instantly transforming your personal system into a supercomputer. For instance:

  1. To project data on a better (larger, higher resolution) surface – for whatever reason you need or like
  2. To do stuff requiring a lot of band with and processing power – being cheaper, faster and more efficient than outsourcing it to a server farm somewhere on the web.  Think of playing games and running simulations of processes and doing heavy number crunching on compiling data and compiling software code.

The never ending dance around the two concepts of Client Server and Personal Computing: We have been moving from it when the Personal Computer became affordable, then towards it again with Thin Clients because of the cost of maintenance, moved away from it when we solved that problem, moved towards it again with Virtual Clients because of cost reduction in software licenses, moved away from it again, moving towards it again with Cloud Computing.

Client Server computing seems to be the everlasting next step in the evolution of systems. Like a hate/love relationship between individualization and communal use. When hardware becomes a service, it will be very much like a very powerful extension of my portable machine.

Using public displays: See also  – “Distributed computing on a personal level”. Sharing data and sharing information is part of our natural movements. When hardware becomes a service, this service can be accessed by your portable, projecting anything you like to project, using Local Area Networks and webservices to do so.

Using machines and the environment:We will move more into this topic in the next part: Roomware (to be written).

Fab-Labs on steroids – manufacturing stuff: As described before, more and more Computer Aided Manufacturing is becoming a commodity. They might still be located on central places in the place you live, but within hours of reach. Where nano-bots might seem like the cool shit, it will be much more like FabLabs on Steroids allowing you to cut wood, cut, bend and weld metals, produce microchips based and custom made electronics

READING THE BODY AS AN EXTENSION OF YOUR MACHINE

Skipping the keyboard – typing on a virtual keyboard in thin air: there are many ways to skip the keyboard. I focus on one I used in a story written in 1991 – thinking about human computer interaction for a Cyberpunk story (it were those days then). When you type, your body is using your muscles in very specific ways to move the bones of your arms and fingers: stretching and contracting using the joints, turning the bones of your lower arm to turn your wrists. From this information, aided maybe by sensors you can calculate the relative position of your arms and your fingers and thus their position on the virtual keyboard.

The advantage of this approach is twofold:

  1. You do not need external hardware to function as a “keyboard” – limiting the amount of devices needed
  2. You can use any surface (and even the thin air) as a keyboard

Skipping the touch pad – reading gestures directly from the body: as said: any movement we make is translated into muscular movement and relative movement of our joints. Reading muscles and joints can also be used to read gestures. As the information read from the body is much higher in resolution than from a touch pad (we can read muscles, bones and relative position in 3 dimensions) we also have much more freedom to define what movement means what. Imagine Tom Cruise in Minoriy Report. But without the stupid gloves.

Using biometric feedback to train your body and your body-conciousness – avoiding RSI and and doing some yoga at the same time: you can use the info from your bones and muscles to create feed-back to the user. One of the main reasons for RSI and strain is using too much tension on the muscles doing the same thing in a long row. Another reason for RSI and related injuries is simply by using your body in the wrong way when you walk, lift, stand or move. You can also use this information to optimize the use of your body: run faster – for instance – when you are a runner, use less energy while doing it by cutting out all the movements that add nothing and waste energy. When you look at the Alexander Technique you will find more info about the first topic – understanding your body.

Using biometric feedback to monitor your health and well being: Your body is using a lot of different ways to express it’s state. One is the resistance of your skin. The level of excitement can increase or lower the impedance. The temperature on specific areas of your face and body and the specific contraction and release of very specific muscles can be influenced by very specific emotions. It might be even possible to read this from one point on your body as each contraction and each movement is made using bio-electricity – which in turn can be conducted by your body to any place on that body.

Each impulse is a sign of your well being and when you can decypher the patterns, you can read the state and general health  of your body.

When you move into biological defects of the system leading to diabetes, the blood can tell you a lot. Running sensors in the blood system, measuring the state of specific chemicals in the blood are already tested.

Biometric feedback – an overview:

  1. Heartbeat – monitor – measuring exitement, heart condition, if someone is still alive
  2. Skin resistance / conductivity – measuring exitement, tension
  3. Biochemical measurements of elements i.e. in the blood (see Lab on a Chip) – measuring natrium, kalium, calcium and magnesiumconcentrations, for instance for people with kidney problems or detect bacteria, viruses and cancers based on antigen-antibody reactions
  4. Body temperature – fo instance for sporters or people working in more extreem conditions including extended heat or cold

THE ENVIRONMENT AS YOUR FRIEND (AND NOT YOUR NURSE)

The environment as your nurse – relevance and catering laziness: It is the trap of many Domotica projects – to let your house do your thinking. The fridge ordering food when it is gone and telling you the milk goes sour, the TV switching from Soccer to a TV program you both like when your girlfriend comes in and sits on the couch. The light going on when you enter the room. I do not believe this adds anything to our personal lives and that there are more relevant uses for Domotica-like projects which do not get the attention they deserve.

The reactive element – helping you out when you ask for it: An environment can offer you a lot of information:

  1. State of being (healthy, unhealthy, welcoming, unwelcoming)
  2. State of present devices (which are turned on, off, in working order, defect)
  3. Available services (transportation, health, food, safety)
  4. Layout (exits, toilets, specific rooms, roads)
  5. Whereabouts of people (location inside the premises)

The pro-active element – helping you when you are not asking for help: In some cases an environment should be pro-active. These situations are when the health of people or other objects are on stake. Based on the information provided by your sensors, it’s function and the sensors of the environment it should be able to make a simple judgement call. For instance:

  1. When (a part of) your body fails – in case of a stroke, heart attack, state of shock, an epileptic attack or a black out.
  2. When a person is attacked
  3. When there is a possible threat – and the result could be harmful for anything passing that area
  4. When it can make your life easier without interfering – for instance by turning the light on when you walk through a corridor a street or drive on the road
  5. When people you know are in the neighborhood

The caring element – helping you to improve the quality of life: I see the biggest added value for people who are within the care-system and lost part of their independence due to:

  1. A disability
  2. Age
  3. Mental disease
  4. Physical disease
  5. Psychological problems

The acting element – performing tasks on request when you have the right credentials: When you connect to an environment, it might offer you controls to do specific actions. The simple actions are:

  1. Turn on the lights, media center, heating and so on
  2. Open and close doors
  3. Starting the car

The active element – moving through the environment – feeding you back: To know what active elements can be:

  1. Cars
  2. Buses, trams, metro’s, trains and other means of transportation
  3. Cleaning bots, cleaning machines, lawnmowers
  4. Forklifts, tractors, trucks, transportation carts

THE ENVIRONMENT WITH CONSCIOUSNESS

Eco systems- events which belong and events that do not belong: Each eco-system exists of a specific set of species and inhabitants. It has specific events emerging in specific patterns emerging in specific larger patterns. These patterns can connect to traffic, but also to vermin and garbage. Pattens which do not belong can be tracked as well: used for self-learning and alerts coming out of the experience an eco-system builds.

Balancing the flow of events – self correction via the available means: Imagine a city. It measures the stream of cars, people public transportation, usage of water and electricity and so on. Based on this information it is capable of self correcting what is happening inside of it. IBM made a nice short film about this.

Using this kind of information you can help the city and even an country from avoiding traffic jams or shortages in specific fields.

USING OBJECTS FOR INTERACTION

Connecting to the objects – using sensors and wireless: Take away the wires and you have objects you can use all through the space to interact with that space. Add wireless protocols like ZigBee and sensors measuring acceleration, pressure and light and you get objects you canuse to manipulate the space and the objects within that space.

Internet of things – everything object a unique IP not necessarily the way: To have each object on the web is one possible way, but not necessarily the most logical one. Each of these devices will have to run run a very basic OS able to operate as a web client. Running an OS on a device becomes relevant when you want it to have more intelligence – to operate on an independent basis like a car or a bus, to make decisions or to stream broadband data directly to a server on the web, like security camera’s are doing. In the case of your doors, your windows, your tea-kettle and your garbage can a simple solution to send and collect sensor data is enough.

Direct connection between form and function: The object is directly related to the actions and reactions that flow from handling it. For instance like this cube you can move and by the movement changes the mood and type of music.

Mobile phone, tablet, laptop, computer: The richest forms of interaction are via the smarter devices like the laptop, PC, tabled PC and mobile phone. You can see what is going on, interact via visual elements on the screen, request reports and overviews and act according to them.

Tables and surfaces – projected data: It seems logical to use tables and surfaces with projected data to create interaction between people. In practice the cost might not weight up to the benefits. Tables and surfaces are quite static and can only cater a limited group of people. The use of electronics also introduces an extra sensitivity for physical damage. I have a feeling that the chance of interactive tables and surfaces have lower than 50% chance to become a break-through technology – outside the very specific use-cases where:

  1. People are sharing data all through the day, relevant for more than 2 people, to see at the same time
  2. Or when the cost to project are so low that there is no reason NOT to do it

PRIVACY ISSUES WE MUST CONSIDER

[To be worked out later]

More and more data we produce and use will point out who we are, who we know, what we know, what political side we choose, what we like and who we like. There are two things protecting us from abuse right now:

  1. Our government
  2. The laws of our country

It goes beyond this article (due to time constraints and a lack of deeper knowledge at my side) to light every aspect.

Bottom line #1:

  1. It is up to the people in each country to be the watchdog of their politicians and political systems
  2. It is up to the people to understand the impact of specific laws and rulings to be introduced and to take action
  3. It is up to the people to become aware of the traces they leave behind in with every action online and every action done with electronic systems
  4. It is up to the people to make sure that the data they entrusted will not be abused – by using the means they have

Botom line #2:

It all revolves around awareness of the systems around you, and your personal and collective power to make sure that your privacy- and human rights are respected by the world around you.

Health and old age

Geriatrics will become one of the biggest challenges of the next period. With wealth and eduction comes the reduction of offspring and the prolongation of our life span. Due to this we will have more and more old people in relationship to newborns.

Active lives: We tend to treat people older than 65 as has-beens. They have had their use and now they are just old and with reduced use. Especially with the speed of development we are in now. This is one of the mind-sets that invites a passive life of “waiting 20 years for your death to come”. People who live an ongoing active life, in general require less care and due to their active lives their body tends to be stronger. They take care of themselves and add something of value to their environment. Usually until their death.

Personal coaching: With age also comes reduced functioning of organs and the higher risk for specific conditions like diabetes, bone atrophy, cancer and Alzheimer. Turning this around: with age comes an increased responsibility to take good care of our bodies. To keep active, remain fit, have balanced food diets take enough rest. We discussed bio-sensors and ultra-portable computers earlier. Using a combination of these elements allow us to monitor the well-being of our body on a real time basis and correct the mistakes we make regarding the personal well-being of our bodies.

The corporate and non corporate landscape

Of Roomware and Roomware related items

Domotica – home security, timed events and measurement of energy use: In this field, mainly the classic installation companies seem to be active. Extending the business from security systems or climate-related systems to measure energy use, report (via SMS, e-mail or phone call) when an alarm is triggered and adapt to your patterns of domestic use by turning the lights and heater on and off when you are and are not using the house. Mostly based on closed systems.

Domotica – Universities and student projects, treading many known paths: Catering the lazy consumer. Automating the house so that the user of that house can consume the automated services of that house. Including the automated ordering of food products when a product is finished. Mostly conceptual.

Domotica and care – Old people homes: Installation of panic buttons to call for help when the inhabitant gets unwell, a generic remote control to control heating, opening of the front door and asking who is there. More advanced use: measuring patterns of use in a house based on opening and closing of doors, cabinets and the fridge. Alert systems when these patterns are broken.

The city as a platform – concepts of smarter cities: Conceptual: IBM, Vurb, envisioning smarter cities by measuring the use of that city, pollution levels and the flow of energy and traffic. No concrete cases yet.

Sensors, Smart Spaces, sharing information and Do It Yourself projects: The Roomware project, sharing experiences, organizing workshops, creating platforms and Open Source frameworks for people to build their own solutions. No clear direction in the commercial market. Not a commercial project.

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