­

Think about the perfect dinner, appliances that call for service, a shopping list that completes itself and, voila!, preempted television commercials.

You've heard it all, you say?

This time it's for real.

The much delayed promise of the Jetsons' home is about to become a reality -- honest -- according to "Trendspotting," (Penguin/Putnam, $14.95) a new literary peek into the near future, written by Richard Laermer the New York City journalist turned marketing mouth piece who founded RLM Public Relations.

Among the trends about to descend upon us are many that will impact how we live at home, says Laermer, who has worked to perfect the trend of trend spotting.

"Smart homes are wired or connected through a home computer running software that can control and automate every aspect of your home, security, lighting, appliances, heating and cooling systems, blinds, drapes, audio and video systems," said Laermer.

To compile his book of trends, Laermer interviewed trend experts from a variety of disciplines to come up with nine chapters of trends, including many likely to affect your life at home.

While replicating food from thin air and playing 3-D tag in a holodeck room aren't on the list --yet -- more down to earth change is afoot -- for better or for worse.

  • Kitchens that cook. The kitchen, today's social center of the home, will become your home's computer center. Not merely of room of independent Internet appliances, the kitchen will hold the home's main frame-like personal computer to direct the division of labor among networked appliances and your family. The kitchen will not only know when to order groceries, but where you are, how to contact you and when to put you in a teleconference call with your kid's school principal.
  • No more ruined dinners. Microwaves, ovens and other cooking appliances will read food item's bar codes embedded with cooking instructions and prepare meals to perfection.
  • Forget shopping lists. A terminal in the home will read bar codes and send a message to the supermarket which will tap predesignated delivery times to restock your kitchen.
  • Appliances that call. Not only will appliances call the repair center for repairs and maintenance, they will also alert you when you need to know something isn't quite right at home. For example, if the washing machine blows a hose, you'll get a cell phone page or call that there is a sudden water pressure loss.

    "Our homes will be smarter than we are. In the future, your windows will do more than just keep out the elements of weather. They will automatically adjust to the changing sunlight to keep your home bright, dark, warm or cool," Laermer said.

  • The end of TV commercials. TiVo, Replay and other digital recording set-top box systems will flood the market and black out commercials -- or not, if you happen to like commercials. They will spell the end of prime time television and commercials replacing them with "YTTV" -- "Your Time TV".

    "This means you should wait before buying any TV appliances. They will be so much better and cheaper in the next year or so," Laermer says.

  • Monitors everywhere. Strategically placed monitors will serve to show first-run movies, digital television, computer images, Net access, video messaging and more. They will also act as input terminals and mini-control centers for your wired home.

    "There will be the flattest flat screen monitors for both work and play on the market," Laermer said.

  • Broadband responds to need for speed. Broadband will deliver regular television, video games, movies, interactive events and related services (i.e., pizza delivery) in a format more like a theatrical experience to your home's screen room -- when you want it. Television will be a much more interactive experience from remote control shopping on the Home Shopping Network to choosing the season finale of "Friends".

    "We are nearing the end of public entertainment as we know it. Advanced home theater systems will soon become the norm. Home movie theaters will no longer be for just the rich and the privileged. Bye-bye movie theaters. We will rely on Internet experiences over personal ones as the Internet finishes off what television started, isolating us from the world," said Laermer.

  • Log in to comment
    ­