New technologies are ever infiltrating our lives, posing new dilemmas and challenging our values. Here is a sweeping look at some of the changes ahead.
People in advertising relentlessly monitor lifestyle changes in order to market products successfully. In 1997, two top trend watchers at advertising agencies, Marian Salzman and Ira Matathia, published their book Trends for the Future in a Dutch edition, which became a best seller in the Netherlands. The book is now being revised under a new title, Next: The Flow of the Future, for forthcoming international editions. . .
. . . Here is a sampling of their anticipations for the coming years:
* Company towns will reemerge as high-tech companies lure workers to subsidized apartments, houses, and condos that are wired to the workplace. Larger corporations may build campuses, complete with on-site child and elder care, health facilities (dentist, chiropractor, certified nurse practitioner), and personal-service concierges.
* Community personal assistants will be hired by community groups and neighbors who will pool their resources. These neighborhood concierges will do things that homeowners no longer have time to do themselves, such as dropping off and picking up dry cleaning, going food shopping, doing yard work and pool maintenance, and performing routine home repairs or overseeing the work of plumbers and other service providers. Services will be provided by homeowners' associations, with fees charged on a menu basis.
* Living in the global village. The ability of information technology to bring the rest of the world into our living rooms has made us more aware not only of each other's fashions and preferences, but also of each other's passions and plights. Accompanying this awareness will be a deepening sense that one can both "think globally" and "act globally."
* "Special purpose" rooms will be in demand. Home builders will see an increase in requests for sewing rooms, hobby shops, wine cellars, and other rooms to individualize the home.
* Fully automated bedrooms are coming, allowing us to control lights, phones, drapes, alarms, media unit, climate, etc., with the touch of a button.
* Sleeping machines will be used either to produce restful sleep or to provoke intense dreams. Already in development: NovaDreamers, a technology that combines eye masks and circuitry to promote dreaming; alarms awaken the user moments after the dream has ended so he or she can make a record of the dream.
* Intelligent wallpapers using high-tech fabrics will turn every flat surface into an art gallery one moment, a TV/computer screen the next.
* Intelligent refrigerators will keep track of butter, orange juice, and other essentials; the homeowner can print out the list prior to a grocery shopping trip or transmit it electronically to a home-delivery service.
* Virtual aquariums or scenic vistas on flat screens will add interest to the family room wall.
* Robotic lawn mowers will be an increasingly common sight in suburban backyards. These robo-mowers will cut grass within a specified boundary, avoiding obstacles such as bushes and children's playthings.
* Granny minders. In-home infrared detectors that monitor an individual's daily routines will allow elderly persons to live independently longer. An absence of activity, such as not opening the refrigerator during the day, will trigger an automatic distress call to a caregiver.
* Soundproofed rooms will be in demand. The increased use of home offices and multimedia rooms will make soundproofing an increasingly common option in new homes.
Family and Education
* Shopping for progeny: With the increase in infertility and older couples wanting to have children, we'll see the rise of mail-order catalogs with details about the egg and sperm donors, so prospective parents can shop for genetics. …