Wipe your feet. You’ve just entered the digital home. This isn’t the stuff of The Jetsons, or an episode of Star Trek. Wollack’s condo is part of an Internet-driven technological wave that is rippling through houses in theU.S.,Europe, andAsia. Whether it’s a deluxe design such as Wollack’s or a bare-bones wireless network that a student can rig up for a few hundred bucks, today’s digital home represents a commitment to tearing down walls. Occupants inhabit protean rooms where data move at lightning speed. Content is available anytime, anyplace, and on whatever device the owner desires. This is a world where the couch potato lounges in the living room, presses a button, and begins watching a show recorded on the TiVo in the kitchen or upstairs in the bedroom. It’s a domain in which road warriors in motion snap open cell phones or tablet computers for access to music files stored at home on a PC.
Today’s connected homes look nothing like the top-down schemes for automated houses hatched by Japanese electronics companies in the 1980s. InJapan’s Platonic ideal, prior to the commercial Internet, all the amenities were to be controlled by a central computer. In contrast, consumers today are setting up their electronics room by room to share high-speed Net connections and to exchange music, video, and other content. Rapid adoption of home-PC networks is speeding development of networked appliances and features. Using TiVo and ReplayTV devices to skip commercials is already “been-there, done-that.” Both companies now are implementing features that let you schedule programs through the Internet remotely as well as stream them among units.
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