Inside its Redmond, Wash., headquarters, Microsoft built a futuristic home, complete with a foyer, living room, kitchen, dining room, bedroom and den.
No, it's not where Bill Gates stays when he's in town. It's Microsoft's equivalent of the concept car, showing off things that are possible today and could be affordable -- maybe even prevalent -- within the next three to five years.
When you walk into the home, you're greeted by "Grace," a disembodied voice named after computer pioneer Grace Hopper. Grace gives you a rundown on what's happened since you left, including the news that your electric scooter will be charged in 37 minutes, your daughter got an A on her math test, and you have four voicemail messages.
Microsoft envisions a near-future where everything is connected to the cloud. That means your home will learn a lot about you, including your routine. It can remind you to take your medicine and automatically send a message to your relatives if you do anything out of the ordinary like come home early or leave your doors unlocked.
Hundreds of tiny sensors are located throughout the home, tracking everything from whether your suit is at the cleaners to when a plant needs more light. Knowing what's in your fridge and pantry, the home suggests a suitable recipe, which Grace can read out while you cook.
Microsoft's Home of the Future has been in existence since 1994 and gets a makeover every two years. Nothing on display is actually in Microsoft's product roadmap, but the company believes that much of the technology will make its way into middle-class homes in the coming years. -David Goldman
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