3D printing, virtual reality, artificial intelligence: the stuff of science fiction is coming to a home near you sooner than you think.
Take a tour of the Home of the Future and find out how our domestic technology could evolve over the next 15 years.
From smart windows to nanotech towels, the future's an exciting and amazing place. Explore it with us!
A special thanks to FutureTimeline.net for their contribution to this piece.
Stuart Miles, founder and CEO of Pocket-lint.com, kindly took some time out to tell us all about what he thinks the Home of the Future will look like.
Beginning with technological advances in connectivity, Stuart comments: "The continual improvement in broadband speeds and Wi-Fi means we'll be able to deliver more content and data in and out of the house quickly.
The Internet of Things journey is only just starting. In 15 years, every single electronics device in your home will be connected to the internet, collecting data on how you use it, and talking to all your other gadgets in the house."
And it's not just electronics and homeware - the house itself will be fully equipped with smart technology. "You'll have a number of sensors throughout the house measuring a number of different things in real-time. Your house will be able to tell you everything from movement, temperature, humidity, whether you've left a window or door open, energy used by specific devices, whether you've left the tap on, and much more," said Stuart.
"Voice will play a big part in how we interact and control our appliances in the future. "TV off" or "activate alarm" will become standard phrases. Screen technology will become so good and so cheap you'll have screens in every room, and not just to watch television but to deliver information or let you control your house."
He believes the Internet of Things could have a couple of other impacts many of us wouldn't necessarily foresee: "I think Internet-enabled doorbells will become a must-have item in the next couple of years, as people get excited by the idea of having their phone ring wherever in the world or house they are when someone is at the door."
In just a few decades, every home will produce an "unfathomable" amount of data, according to Stuart. But although they'll undoubtedly contain more gadgets and technology, they may well end up being more energy-efficient than modern homes. "Your devices will know when you are out, what the weather is like, and when to turn off or on accordingly rather than having to rely on you knowing what's best," he said.
As our homes change, the way we do things in them – watching television, listening to music, playing videogames – will change too. Streaming services for everything combined with faster internet speeds will make all our entertainment instant and always-available, whilst the advent of wireless charging will also see cables and plug sockets gradually vanish from our homes.
Finally, Stuart gave his thoughts on what new rooms the homes of the future may contain: "Instead of the previous trend of men lusting after a home cinema room, we'll all want a Virtual Reality room instead."
Over at PC Pro, Editor-in-Chief Tim Danton gave us his expert opinion on how he believes our home technology and entertainment will evolve over the next 15 years.
"On-demand TV will be the dominant force, with broadcast much more of a niche," he said. "100% connection in the home means no dead spots. Wherever you need a connection you’ll be able to get one, and download things incredibly fast."
Tim also believes our smartphones will advance to the point that we'll be able to control nearly everything in the house with them – even if we're not home. "You'll be able to check how much milk you have in the fridge whilst you're at the supermarket," he said, adding that smart security systems will also give us constant updates on who's in the house and what they're doing.
Additionally, he agrees with Stuart that the Internet of Things will give us much more personalised and efficient homes in the future, through technology such as "thermostats that adapt to you – so no more slamming the heating on from 7am to 10am, but a more cost-effective system tailored to your habits".
Winner of the 2014 Electrolux Design Lab competition for the Future Hunter Gatherer, a system which turns shopping into a holographic game helping to educate children about where their food comes from.
“Gamification may affect technology in the future because it could create a more enjoyable way to interact. But you can’t just use gamification as people will be easy tired of it, so it’s up to designers to add value.
“The Internet of Things is my research area. We already know how machines talk to other machines, and I believe next step will be how machines talk to people using the Internet of Things.”
Firstly, Future Hunter-Gatherer uses 3D hologram technology, which allows users, using gamification, to gather food, which is designed to be a lot of fun to the family.
Secondly, the scenario reflects the natural world. Too many people live in the city, so they cannot go to the forest or the sea; the Future Hunter-Gatherer is the best way to solve it. The process in which people ‘gather’ reflects a real-world process, which is designed to offer a deeper understanding about where our food comes from. Thirdly, this gamification process is only a part of the design, Future Hunter-gatherer is not just a product but actually a virtual grocery shopping experience.“
PassivSystems, a Smart Home energy platform
“It is our opinion that the next few years will see the birth of truly smart homes, with the development of new and exciting technology continually occurring. However, it is my personal belief that it will be in the next five to ten years when we shall see the full potential of smart technology achieved, with everything in the household internet-of-things enabled from the point of manufacture so as to be controllable through the internet.
“For the sake of the environment, the Home of the Future will become truly zero-carbon. This necessity will cause the smart technology sector to grow exponentially, moving away from running individual household assets towards a more holistic management.”
Kibbi, a Smart Home security solution
“Kibbi is a smart security solution for everyone. The Kibbi features an auto-arming HD wide-angle security camera with motion detection, night vision, custom alerts, sound monitoring via microphone, 1GB free cloud storage and secure authentication.
Kibbi expands its security by utilising revolutionary Internet of Things smart sensors, which attach to doors and windows, providing motion detection and temperature sensing around your entire home.”
Any detections made by Kibbi or the smart sensors are sent directly to your smartphone, alerting you and providing you with a live video footage feed direct from your Kibbi device. “
Interacting with the Home of the Future
To look around the Home of the Future, simply drag the slider through the years and watch the changes taking place within each room.
For more information on those changes, click on the points throughout the house.
We will be emailing the lucky winner by the 21st August 2015 so keep an eye on your inbox!
Back in 2000, Rightmove had less than 10,000 properties and we almost called ourselves Doorknob.
But, 40 million properties, 2.5 billion images, and 15 years later, we’re celebrating our 15th birthday! Head back to the year 2000 and compare the tech of the future with the homes of Rightmove, day 1!
The mattress of 2000 was probably nothing more than a goatskin thrown across a rudimentary layer of twigs and leaves. (Actually, it might have been memory foam - but you probably still had to flip it every few months.)
Old weighing scales used a simple spring balance to provide a fairly accurate estimate of your weight.
Home desktops in the year 2000 were likely to be connected to the internet via dial-up or wired broadband, and if you were lucky might have come packing a Voodoo graphics card.
Before digital TV, boxy cathode ray tube TV sets could be found in most living rooms. Although flatter plasma screens were available at the time, their high price tags usually put them out of reach of the average Joe.
The cutting-edge console of 2000 was Sony's PlayStation 2, which boasted DVD capability and later online gaming on selected titles. It went on to become the best-selling console of all time.
With so many music formats around, the stereo systems of 2000 could be unwieldy beasts: it was not uncommon to find a tape deck, CD tray, record turntable and MiniDisc slot all on the same Hi-Fi.
Old energy meters were considerably different to the technology that replaced them: many needed professionals to come to your home every few months and take a reading, and even then these were usually vague estimates.
Before the convenience of fancy washer-dryers, people had to spend literally minutes taking their clothes out of one machine and putting it into another.
Harnessing the sun's rays to cut a home's energy costs and improve its carbon footprint has never been more popular. Uptake has risen sharply in recent years thanks to a number of government subsidies, such as the feed-in tariff.
Forget bulky solar panels – the solar cells of the future can be spray-painted onto any surface. Using the organometal halide perovskite, these high-efficiency, low-cost cells take full advantage of the full surface area of the house, windows and doors included.
Home energy generation is still a novel idea, but as the ability to do it cheaply and effectively becomes possible it won't be long for it to become the norm – everybody likes to save money, after all.
As electric cars become the norm rather than the exception, built-in charging points like this one will start appearing outside homes to power eco-friendly vehicles with juice from the National Grid – or energy generated by the house itself.
Although uptake of electric cars has been slow, petroleum will become an increasingly scarce resource in the future. Electric cars, hydrogen-powered vehicles and hybrids are our best bet of staying on the roads.
This motion-sensitive alarm triggers in the event of a break-in, with the more sophisticated versions sending an alert to your security company.
Showers are a more eco-friendly way to get clean than taking a bath, but the average shower still uses around 80 litres of water. All this could change as we strive to find more sustainable ways to manage our water supplies.
This closed-loop shower uses just five litres of water at a time, and 80% of the energy of a normal shower. As the same water is pumped and filtered around the system, it remains warm.
Water might seem like a limitless resource, but the need to clean it for drinking costs millions every year. Home technology can help us make smarter use of our water to reduce energy wastage.
Now integrated into a sensor pad in the floor and connected to the curtain screen, these smart scales provide a detailed assessment of your vital statistics and inform you about your caloric intake.
Personal health is important to everybody, and devices like these could encourage us to make smarter choices about the food we eat and identify weight problems before they begin.
Pocket-sprung, memory foam hypoallergenic no-flip mattresses might be the very height of bedroom technology right now, but even more impressive things are around the corner.
Mattresses that warm up in the winter and stay cool in the summer, as well as being made of self-cleaning antibacterial materials, will help us get a better night's sleep than ever before.
We're always being told to make more time for bed rest in order to balance out our busy modern lives. Sleep technology – which could also include non-pharmaceutical relaxants and beds which monitor and improve sleep – is likely to feature in the bedroom of tomorrow.
Nanotechnology will enable huge advances in clothing. Self-cleaning fabrics, truly waterproof materials and personal climate control are all being developed right now, and could soon be heading to a retailer near you.
A linked network of sensors, cameras and smartphone apps, this system sends real-time video to your phone and can even notify the police if there's a break-in. It can also be used to control lighting, music and temperature.
Burglaries will become less common in the future, but increasingly sophisticated intrusion detection systems might see career criminals taking up computer hacking instead.
This smart mirror - actually a screen with an integrated computer - features a virtual wardrobe function so users can try different garments on a model of themselves before getting dressed. The "magic mirror" can even make polite outfit suggestions, helping you to look your best.
Screens are already everywhere in our daily lives, and there's every reason to think windows, mirrors and other surfaces will serve dual purposes in future. As hardware continues to shrink, a powerful PC could easily be embedded in a mirror frame.
A boring old window. Who cares? But a smart window? That's more like it! Like most glass surfaces in the future, this window doubles up as a screen. As well as accessing social media and watching films in bed, you'll be able to change the view outside to anything you like.
Nothing too high-tech here, but at least it keeps the floor dry.
Soft, dry and completely technology-free.
Arguably the most important utility in the house, the loo is another thing that hasn't evolved much over the years. But as technology marches on, we could see a long-overdue upgrade to toilet technology.
This space-saving design was developed to get the most out of smaller rooms. Folding away neatly after use, it occupies much less space than toilets of the past, uses 50% of the water and is even easier to keep clean.
The fold-away toilet ticks all the boxes of future tech – it's a space-saving, eco-friendly improvement on what came before it.
Using flexible display technology, the curtain now doubles up as a screen for checking social media, listening to music or watching the news as you have your morning shower.
Increasingly busy lives could see more technology like this emerge, allowing us to be more productive in our spare time.
Self-heating and self-cleaning, these towels are infused with invisible nanotechnology that make them toasty when you wrap them around you.
Another cosy by-product of nanotechnology, these will likely be luxury items.
While we once replied on bulky stereo systems and a plethora of CDs to do our musical bidding, today it’s as easy to load hundreds of albums onto your smartphone as it is plugging it in to a speaker.
Virtual reality is the next great frontier, and devices like the Oculus Rift look set to deliver it. While initially used for games, VR technology will eventually transform the way we browse the internet and keep in touch with one another.
The humble wall socket has served us well for over a century, connecting our devices to the juice on the National Grid. However, with more devices now charging wirelessly, their days are numbered.
Modern TVs are much sleeker than the sets of yesteryear, and are often internet-enabled so viewers can access streaming services or surf the web from the comfort of their sofas.
In a few short decades, home gaming consoles have gone from niche curiosities to indispensable entertainment hubs. However, there's been little true innovation in recent years, with the latest generation of consoles content to simply improve upon their predecessors.
While many of us still hold onto a landline, it's rapidly becoming obsolete in the age of mobile phones and free video chat apps. As media continues to converge, the landline will be squeezed out in favour of more versatile technology.
Replacing old-fashioned mechanical meters, modern smart meters record a home's energy consumption in hourly intervals, and automatically send reports to utility companies.
Born out of environmental concerns, compact fluorescent lightbulbs like these use considerably less power and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
The convergence continues with the AcousTable – now the coffee table is the speaker and power source in one.
Combining multiple household objects into one will become more popular in future, both for aesthetic reasons and the need to conserve space.
Fluorescent and incandescent bulbs have been almost completely replaced by cheaper, longer-lasting and more eco-friendly LEDs. The colour of the light to be adjusted as easily as the brightness.
As fossil fuels get more expensive and the transition to alternatives begins, widely-used home items like lightbulbs will continue to be designed to increasingly higher environmental standards in the future.
Continuing the trend for ever more realistic VR, these suits soon become a common sight in homes and can convey sensations like getting hit and lifting objects. As technology develops, they begin simulating subtler feelings, such as a cool breeze or warm sunlight.
Most games consoles can now offer photorealistic graphics, with no noticeable distinction between in-game visuals and television.
Virtual Reality is another familiar trope of science fiction, but the ability to take our whole bodies into virtual realms is here already. Not only does this open up whole new avenues of creativity, but it could be a powerful way for people to exercise and even socialise in the future.
Organic LED has replaced plain old LED, 4K or "ultra-HD" has replaced HD, and flexible technology means curved screens present a wider field of view. Additionally, most TVs are now gesture-controlled - no more remotes to lose.
Ceiling-mounted power nodes like these generate an electromagnetic field to transfer energy wirelessly to devices in the home - just like a Wi-Fi signal. Wall sockets and wires have become a thing of the past.
The convenience of inductive charging is clear, and a truly wireless world is on the horizon for all of us. It's currently too expensive to make and not efficient enough for wide-scale commercial use, but advances are being made all the time.
Despite the failure of various forms of 3D TV a decade earlier, truly three-dimensional holographic TV is finally taking off, in one of the biggest revolutions since the switch from black-and-white to colour. Purists and posers still claim to prefer the "retro" look of 2D TV.
Holo TV and virtual screens have been a staple of sci-fi for decades, and it seems likely that the next great leap for entertainment will be into the third dimension. However, it will need to be affordable if it's going to tear people away from their 2D screens.
Now much more than a games system, the home console is the living brain of the modern smart home, controlling security, lighting and temperature, monitoring energy usage, ordering groceries and communicating with householders through a realistic AI interface.
Human-like artificial intelligence isn't just something from the movies; Google is working on it right now, and the ethics and dangers associated with it have become serious topics of debate in recent years. While the benefits of having a superhumanly intelligent servant around the home seem obvious, what if it wants to be free?
With a little soil and sunlight, growing fresh herbs indoors is easy - although not very hi-tech.
The washing machine is one of the most time-saving innovations of our time, saving hours of drudgery every week. However, the need to conserve water and energy could see them evolve in the future.
The modern electric oven and gas stove is a marvellous thing, but it hasn't changed a lot over the decades. However, new technology could soon integrate a variety of functions into a single surface.
The need for more and more reliable crops will lead to a surge in the use of hydroponic technology, which will spread into the home with indoor gardens like this one providing fresh fruit and veg all year round.
The world will need to produce at least 50% more food by 2050 to keep humanity's 9 billion-strong population from starving. Pests, climate, soil conditions and disease can all be controlled with hydroponics, which can also be stacked vertically to create small-footprint farms.
Designed to help us reconnect with our primal instincts in a futuristic way, this system turns shopping into a holographic game helping to educate children about where their food comes from.
As our lives become more dominated by technology, that same technology could be used to ensure we don't completely lose touch with nature.
In a radical departure from the traditional washer-dryer, this superconductive ball filled with liquid nitrogen spins around a ring generating a magnetic field. Sublimated dry ice gets your clothes clean without a single drop of water.
Despite the current process being mostly automated, washing and drying clothes is still widely seen as a chore. Any technology that can make the task more convenient is likely to catch on.
A combination of worktop, dining table and cooking stove, this amorphous surface can be rearranged as desired with simple hand movements.
As populations continue to grow, the need to do more in smaller spaces will lead to more technologies like this. Common features of the home will serve several functions, freeing up more room for living space.
Analysts predict exponential growth for 3D printing in the years to come, with 2.3 million expected to sell in 2018. While still something of a novelty, 3D printers are becoming more and more common in homes.
3D printers are now as ubiquitous in the home as televisions, radically changing the face of consumerism. Everything from tools and electronics to food and clothing and can be printed quickly and cheaply, using just raw material blocks and "recipes" downloaded from the internet.
In the future we may simply download blueprints of products, which we can then print as many times as we like. However, this could impact on a huge variety of traditional industries, and questions remain about the impact of mass 3D printing on jobs.