the Media House Project [developed by the MIT Media Lab, Metapolis, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, and the Elisava Design School], is a pretty cool look at what a networked house might be. i won’t criticize it like i have most marketable home automation systems because:
1. it isn’t on the market
2. it is specifically an exploration of what might be, not what can be incorporated now
3. it explicitly states that it tries to do everything, and in fact attempts to compliment evolution

the Media House Project is an academic project that looks to compliment existing ways that people interact with their houses. it is not reinventing the wheel, so to speak – it doesn’t state that we must alter our way of life, but rather seeks to integrate computers and networking with the ways we currently use our homes. so the kitchen is complimented by an automated agent that not only contains recipes, but also teaches, observes, and aids in real-time the cooks activities. the children’s playroom contains fully immersive and interactive video and audio by way of projectors on walls. furthermore, none of these activities is relegated solely to a single room since the entire house is connected and every object and program has an ‘address’ that can be called up from any other location. this tends to blur the boundaries between traditional rooms, with the entire house being the location for every activity [save bathroom functions 😉 ].

this project holds lessons for how automated home systems can be developed – firstly as a massive collaboration between architects, engineers, artists, and sociologists. these are the professions with the know-how to identify the needs and desires of the user and to successfully implement them in a home automation system. secondly as a complete re-imagination of the user interface and graphic hierarchy in a home automation system. typically these systems consist of multiple levels of menus (often too many) without a worthy graphic identification system – one that is easy to understand, easy to look at, and comfortable and non-threatening. when i say non-threatening, that is in reference to the fact that current systems to be programmable and useable only by tech-savvy, and by extension tech-savvy men.

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