Say hello to the home of the future. And then ask it to make some coffee for you

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The Independent Online

If changing television channels with a remote control seems to be too much effort, say hello to the home of the future - where you will be able to run a bath, make the coffee, check on the baby, unlock the door and, of course, change channels using just your voice, and all while lying in bed.

If changing television channels with a remote control seems to be too much effort, say hello to the home of the future - where you will be able to run a bath, make the coffee, check on the baby, unlock the door and, of course, change channels using just your voice, and all while lying in bed.

The experimental house - a three-bedroom detached home in Hatfield, Hertfordshire - will also be ecologically friendly, recycling 40 per cent of its water and using solar panels to generate power and heating to cut electricity use.

For the family of the future, it will have all mod cons, and then some. Every room can have its own radio or TV channel, piped simultaneously from a central computer that lives under the stairs. There are computers in almost every room and video monitors in the baby's nursery, watching the front door and outside. And keys will be a thing of the past: all the external doors are secured by pressing a keyfob, similar to the radio-controlled locking on a car, or via the telephone network with a six-digit PIN code sent as text message from the owners' mobile phones, or over the internet. Each room will also have microphones.

"We are going to research this seriously by putting a family in to live here from April," said Mike Crawshaw, head of the consulting group at the mobile phone company Orange, which developed the concept. "That will show whether people like to operate the controls by voice, or with remotes, or buttons on the walls."

The wireless future does of course come with a price tag: Orange, which refitted the £225,000 house last year, said that creating the "wire-free" home of 2005 has cost about £2m. That, however, included the cost of prototypes and rebuilding to install the systems and software necessary to control the house's electronics. But Orange insisted that all the technology used was available today and that rising demand would make the price of the hardware fall rapidly.

The planners have even allowed for the risk that the future will include power cuts: in that event, the front door will remain locked, except from the inside. Though for those wanting to listen to something while they wait for the lights to come back on, a wind-up radio might still be a necessity.

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