Magazine article USA TODAY

Next Decade Promises Many Breakthroughs

Magazine article USA TODAY

Next Decade Promises Many Breakthroughs

Article excerpt

YOUR HOME in 2008 will have fewer wires, cleaner air, and an assortment of fun products to keep you healthy, informed, and entertained. Battelle, a research and development organization based in Columbus, Ohio, expects the 10 most important technological breakthroughs in household products over the next decade to be:

Disappearing cords and cables. Wires will begin to disappear from view in homes as the nation moves toward wireless communication, data transmission, and energy distribution. That means more cordless telephones, wireless hookups to the Internet, and even electric lamps and small appliances that don't have to be plugged in.

"We'll have an increased use of more powerful batteries, fuel cells, solar and other power sources," predicts Susan Brown, a technology access leader in Battelle's Breakthrough Center. "We can even envision devices to transfer energy from your outlets to lights, vacuum cleaners, and other appliances without the use of wires." Other energy-saving products may include roofing shingles that serve as solar collectors, reducing the need for electricity transferred by wires to homes.

Products for a healthy home. "The environmental movement is expanding from the great outdoors to the cozy confines of our living rooms, kitchens, and baths," indicates Stephen Millett, head of the Breakthrough Center. Bacteria scares and concerns about indoor air quality will lead to products that improve the indoor environment. These could range f and air vents to localized filtering appliances to new concepts, such as anti-allergen and anti-bacterial surfaces and self-vacuuming carpets that serve as filtering systems. The home and yard environment also may be improved with the development of genetically engineered lawns that require fewer or no chemical treatments.

Home health monitors. "There's a rapidly growing need for simple, user-friendly medical equipment for the home," suggests Richard Rosen, vice president of Battelle's Medical Products Group. "As our population ages, monitoring and maintaining our health at home will be extremely important. Technically, we can do it. We can help people stay at home and stay healthy." These relatively inexpensive, reliable, and non-invasive home health monitors could track a wide range of physical functions and analyze nutrition and exercise programs. …

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