The Future of the Condo

This weekend I spent some time thinking about the future of the condo. Specifically, my condo. I’m interested in making my condo a “smart home,” one of those homes that Microsoft predicted we’d all have by now to dock our flying cars into.

So I dreamed big this weekend. I don’t have a background in industrial design or architecture, but I tried to ponder this question: “If I had unlimited resources, what technology could I add to my home to make it really cool–not just for myself, but for future owners of this property?”

After running the numbers, I realized that adding a few of the key components isn’t even that expensive at all. So I ordered a few of components 1-6 below. I’ll explain what they are and then go into all the other ideas I had for the future of the condo.

Actually, before I go into the numbers, I should explain a few things. One, when I tried to sell my condo last year, I decided to mount a flat-screen television on my wall to help the value (this was my friend Eric’s idea). It’s pretty sweet.

Two, each red dots on the floorplan represents a wall-mounted iPod Touch. Why iPod Touch? I just kept coming back to them as I was creating this vision. There’s no  device more ubiquitous than an iPod Touch (or iPhone). You could buy a dedicated device for everything I’m going to talk about below, but why not just use a ubiquitous iPod Touch and let the system update itself and evolve as future apps are created?

  1. Entrance Music and Lighting Control: In the condo of the future, you’ll be able to control the lighting of the entire unit from a single wall-mounted iPod Touch at the entrance (not to mention remotely). Using the Remote app and iTunes home sharing, you can turn on music in all rooms or any particular room with the push of a button when you walk in the condo (or at any time when you’re walking around using your iPhone). Also, no one likes to walk into a dark house–you can turn on all the lights in the condo using Insteon’s smart home system.
  2. Wardrobe Database: The other day I was getting dressed for a second date, but I couldn’t remember what I wore on the first date. You guessed it–there’s an app for that. The best one I found is called Pocket Closet, and it keeps track of all of your clothes using several different metrics, including date. Wonder if your outfit looks any good? Using the fourth-generation iPod Touch’s front-facing camera and one of many camera timers (I found FotoTimer to be solid), you can take a photo of yourself and send it to Second Opinion or Twitter to get instant reactions to your outfit. Sure, you can do that now with a mirror, but no photo of you holding a phone in your hand looks good.
  3. Kitchen Helper: I won’t rewrite my extensive entry about the merits of an iPad in the kitchen, but I will say that I think you could do essentially the same thing with a wall-mounted iPod Touch with the app called Grocery Gadgets. It lets you sort and sync your grocery list with your iPhone and tells you recipes using items you have. Again, you could control the music from this unit, and you can take it off the wall to catalog a photo of every dish you create.
  4. Wireless Speaker: Right now with my computer, iTunes, and my iPhone, I can control my music from anywhere within the condo. However, I can only hear it in my bedroom. That’s why I’m combining a Polk Center Channel speaker with an Apple Airport in my living room so I can hear my music while I’m making dinner or playing poker. This one I’m really doing. It’s going to be awesome.
  5. Lights: Okay, this isn’t high technology, but it’s needed. One of the quirks about my condo is that there are no built-in lights in the bedrooms or living room. It’s like the builders simply forgot them. I’m happy with lamps, but the whole place would look better and increase in value if I had real lights installed on the walls. This will be more expensive than adding three wall-mounted iPod Touches to the condo.
  6. Christmas Lights: Again, not high technology. There’s a unit in my building that has these nice big white Christmas lights wrapped around its balcony railing. I want that. So I ordered them.

Dreaming big:

  • High-tech Japanese toilets
  • Wall that takes and displays photos (possibly using the new iPad if it has a front-facing camera)
  • Pet/security monitoring system
  • Bar-side tap for mini-keg
  • Projector display that projects Facebook updates and Twitter feed
  • High table with bar stools (okay, that’s not that big of a dream, but it’s not a priority for me)

What types of technologies do you think will find their way into condos of the future?

Daily Quickie: I have a new survey! This 10-question survey (it’ll take less than a minute) will determine your happiness quotient. The top score is 50. I’ll analyze the results next Sunday and explain where I got those categories from (they came from people with much more authority on the subject than myself). Thanks!

2 thoughts on “The Future of the Condo”

  1. I take full credit (or should I say responsibility?) for Jamey’s wall mounted TV. I thought it would sell his condo immediately. I was wrong! But I here the adult movies on it look fantastic.


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