WIRED HOUSE: Living with Technology

The 21st century
home will be humming with data. A high-bandwidth pipe will
deliver a full-time Net connection to your house. Even your
phones will get in on the act by letting you check and send
e-mail, organize your calendar, and pull information off the
Web. Whether you are building your dream house or just renting a
cramped apartment, there is no reason your place cannot be the
smartest one on the block.

Let the
Devices Talk

You
have got a PC in your home office, a home theatre in your living
room, and gadgets all over the house, so why cannot they all
talk to each other? Years to come will unfold the answer to this
question. Better consider use of technology and communication
while designing your house. Wiring your new house with a
combination of Enhanced Category 5 cable and coaxial cable will
give you the infrastructure to handle everything from Fast
Ethernet to video. Of course, just as you would not install your
home’s plumbing yourself, you probably would not set up the
wiring either. Check an Internet directory like Home Automation
or Structured Wiring to find a networking consultant in your
area.

If the idea of getting
wired does not appeal to you, wireless is the word for you.
Connect to your network while sitting out on the deck with your
notebook. From cellphones to cordless drills, tomorrow’s world
is wireless. Why should your home network be any different? Once
priced out of reach for most consumers, wireless-networking
products will come down to Earth. For only a few hundred rupees,
you will have the luxury of kicking back in your balcony,
notebook in your lap, while surfing the Web and printing
tomorrow’s presentation on the inkjet in the backoffice.

Give your house the
fastest network possible. If it is speed you need, an
old-fashioned 10/100 Ethernet set-up is the way to go. You can
buy a 100 Mbps PC network card for less than the price of a
couple of video CDs. You will have to punch some holes in your
walls, run cable and wiring through your house, and install some
network cards in your PC. But the good news is that getting up
and running will be easier than ever. The New
Technologies

In
the new millennium technologies to watch for are
802.11(Ethernet) HR and Home RF wireless networking. 802.11
stands for wireless Ethernet, and HR stands for high rate or 11
Mbps. The new standard provides the technical guidance for
developing wireless networks that use the 2.4 GHz radio band and
run at 11 megabits per second.

HomePNA2.0–Home Phone
line Networking Alliance standard–allows 10 Mbps signaling
over existing home phone lines. The key to the technology is
that it allows the networking of computers, peripherals, and
appliances without interrupting existing phone services.

Telephones are
turning in PCs and pocket devices, but they are also a key part
of the 21st century home. Glimpse who you are talking to, not
just hear them. Phone calls and e-mail messages are a fact of
urban life today. But in the 21st century home, these two forms
of communication will be as embarrassingly passé as parachute
pants. Whether it is to catch up with your college buddy on the
other side of the country or to talk to your brother-in-law in
the room upstairs, videoconferencing lets you see–not just
hear–the person you are talking to.

Sure, once fatter
broadband pipes are commonplace, videoconferencing will become a
higher-quality and more popular activity. But there is no reason
you cannot have a solid and inexpensive videoconferencing system
today. All you really need is a good camera to hook up to your
multimedia-enabled PC and a telephone line. Analog phones marked
as the first generation, digital phones as the second
generation, wireless data phones are poised to become the third
generation phones.

Technologies to watch are
MP3–the new digital audio compression standard that offers
near-CD-quality sound is taking the Web by storm. Wireless
Application Protocol (WAP) allows various types of wireless
communication devices (cellphones, pagers, handheld PCs) to send
and receive information over the Internet, regardless of
manufacturer or network operator.

Using your home’s
built-in phone wiring as a ready-made network is no good if you
have only one phone jack in the house. But chances are you have
power outlets in every room. 21st century will have technologies
enabling you to use your home’s AC wiring and power outlets to
string together a couple of PCs and a printer in a matter of
minutes.

You don’t even need to
open up your PC. Just plug the network adapters into your system’s
parallel port, and plug those into a power outlet. Technologies
that offer you the convenience are X-10, Intellon, CEBus,
Echelon, PLUG-IN, etc. These are various power line
communication technologies, which allow transfer of data over
the power line.

The drawbacks? Power line
networks are relatively slow and changes in line condition
affect performance. In a place where stable electricity is a
privilege of handful cities your state-of-the-art communication
home will often come to a standstill. Your Next
Phone Will…

Play MP3 Tunes

When third generation
wireless phone networks go up, your 3G phone will be able to
download data at up to 2 Mbps. This bandwidth will make short
work of MP3 files. Skip the walkman, plug a headset into your
phone instead!

Replace Your Wallet

No more loose coins, and
no more waiting in line at the ATM. An integrated smart card
will store cash as digital bits. When you need more money, slip
the card into your phone, dial up your bank, and download more
digital cash.

Keep an Eye on Your House

With high-resolution
screens and broadband wireless networks your cellphone will be a
mobile video viewer. Connect via the Internet to a camera in
your house to make video phone calls or check the security
system.

But, Wait a Little…

Talking about all
this stuff is way above ground. According to the 1991 census,
after five decades of "planned development" the number
of houseless households has touched 31 million and is likely to
reach 41 million by the end of this millennium. As on 31 March
1997, 56 percent of Indian villages did not have a Village
Public Telephone (VPT). The increase in the network of roadways,
railways, and airways has not kept pace with the increase in
traffic. Lack of development of rural areas and lack of
infrastructure will confine the wired house of the 21st century
to few urban individuals.

Till then I can only say
"I had a dream. When will my dream come true?"

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