Computers at home

You may be using computers in your home every day without realizing that you are. Most televisions contain small computers that automatically fine tune the image, select the brightness and correct the color tones. Many electrical appliances such as washing machines, microwave ovens, dishwashers and more, also use computers to help them run more efficiently.

The environment of the home itself can be controlled and maintained by computers. A prototype intelligent house in Japan contains dozens of hidden sensors that feed information about temperature, humidity, airflow, human presence and carbon dioxide levels to a central computer. The computer can monitor preset comfort levels and determine whether to turn on a heater or an air conditioning, or to open or close windows.

Although the Japanese intelligent house is at the cutting edge of computer controlled comfort and convenience, American home designers are working toward features that are more immediately achievable. These features include a programmable electrical system that can control particular outlets and appliances. For example, when leaving for work, you might set the system for “at work”. The system would automatically turn off the lights, arm the security system and let the temperature drop or rise to conserve energy. Just before you programmed return time, it would heat or cool the house in time for your arrival.