Home of the future unveiled

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The Independent Online
Computer giants IBM, Intel, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard have put a lot of thought into making people think less in the cyberhome of 2000. Their house of the future, unveiled this week at San Francisco's Blasthaus Gallery, features a range of gadgets, from electronic butlers to computerised grocery lists, designed to ease the stresses of modern life.

A 42-inch flat-panel screen in the living room, showing the film Bladerunner, uses no cathode ray tube, and no enormous box; just a huge picture on a thin screen, priced at $20,000.

Intel's Car-PC, meanwhile, is loaded with software that recognizes your voice. Give the word "radio" and it tunes in. Say "phone" and it dials a number. And when away from the house, IBM's prototype video doorbell is your butler. Ring the bell and a voice booms out: "No one's home, but leave a video message."

In the kitchen, the Cyberhome 2000 has a special scanner. Run it over a packaging bar code, and information pops up on a screen. The scanner tells you how long it will take to heat the food and even sets the microwave. It can also connect you to the food manufacturer's Web site, to pick up recipes online. If it's your last can or packet, the system reminds you.

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