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What will homes look like in 50 to 100 years?

Tech-y and Efficient

It seems a given that most of our electronics and appliances will only get better and more efficient in the future. Although we have plenty of them in our houses right now, getting all of them to work together seamlessly still isn't common for most of us. You can use your smartphone to do everything from watch TV to check on your home security system, but can you also turn on your oven? The home of the future will have robot servants -- they just won't be big, shiny metal androids rolling around and cracking jokes. They'll be hidden within your home, unobtrusive, intuitive and easy-to-use, and they'll incorporate more sensitive and touch-screen technology.

Microsoft's Future Home, for example, is full of this kind of tech. It's a concept home that they update periodically to reflect what they think the future will hold, but so far, many of their concepts seem right on track. It doesn't seem like much of a stretch to go from a mat by your front door that charges all of your electronic devices to one that can also retrieve information from those devices and display it on a big, touch-sensitive screen. Challenges for incorporating this kind of technology today include the expense of retrofitting an existing home, but future houses will incorporate it just like they do plumbing and electricity. There are other challenges beyond cost, though. Microsoft also conducted a study to find out how people felt about home automation, and one of the biggest concerns was security. If everything's automated, you'd have to make sure nobody can hack in and unlock your doors!

Right now environmental friendliness is a huge trend in home building, and you may already have things like energy-efficient windows. These kinds of features will probably become more common, but that doesn't necessarily mean that in 50 years, your house will be covered in solar panels or surrounded by wind turbines. Futurologist Ian Pearson argues that solar panels make much more sense in the African Sahara, for example, than on the roof of a suburban home that sees far fewer sunny days. Given the fact that all renewable sources of energy have their problems, it's hard to predict what will power your house. But it'll be designed to use that power as efficiently as possible in HVAC systems. Things like graywater recovery systems will become inexpensive and easy to use, so using your shower water to flush the toilet won't be a big deal at all.

A stealth-tech, eco-friendly home is probably on the horizon, but will the walls themselves still be wood and drywall?