What Innovations Will Transform the Home of the Future?
Technologies are under development that will transform U.S. homes in coming years. For example, a new material that cools when demagnetized could replace refrigerants in air conditioners and refrigerators, making them 25 percent to 30 percent more efficient, reports Natarajan Venkatakrishnan of GE Appliances, which is working to make the product affordable for consumers. Other innovations discussed at the recent GreenBuild event in Philadelphia include a laundry machine that stores clothes after they are washed and dried, exterior cooling units where groceries could be delivered, faucet sensors that identify bacteria in food, under-cabinet 3D printers, and insulation made from mushroom roots and hemp.
The home of the future is moving towards automation, with Whirlpool recently introducing household appliances that are controlled with a smartphone app that also monitors energy rates and consumption. Other companies have created remote-controlled shades and draperies, security alarms, lighting, and thermostats. Meanwhile, window companies have created remote-operated windows that darken or lighten to control glare and heat gain; and consumers will soon have access to carports, gazebos, and walkways topped with solar panels. Toilets that use slightly more than one gallon of water to flush -- as opposed to five gallons -- and living walls and shelves covered with plants, herbs, and vegetables also could gain popularity.
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