Housing and Technology
Home Technologies And Daily Life
Imaginative films have depicted many forms of robotic assistance, most of them anthropomorphic in character, conducting household chores. This represents the visible technology that is less likely in the future, unless preferences among American consumers call for a walking, talking robot with a name. The 1999 film, Bicentennial Man, featuring the noted actor and comedian Robin Williams, explores a well-worn (some might argue threadbare) theme in movie making about such anthropomorphic robots. In actuality, robotic assistance in the performance of tasks is more likely to be dispersed among product technologies and appliances in areas such as lawn care, household surface cleaning, cooking, and home maintenance. The house will be aware, and the products within the house will be smart and able to communicate. Computer technologies imbedded within food-storage containment areas and refrigeration units will be able to read bar-coded supplies, determine dates of expiration, alert the homeowner about potential spoilage, and even communicate alternative menus to electronic display units or voice output devices. Smart appliances will augment the preparation of food by sensing the degree of cooking completion. Recycling in the kitchen will be accomplished with the assistance of trash sorting and compacting units. Water quality will be continuously monitored, as will all of the systems of the home, through on-call maintenance and service programs that will enhance the overall healthfulness of the home environment. Virtually all of this technology is at hand, and applications will soon emerge in the marketplace.
For older adults, the acquisition, monitoring, and use of medications is of great importance. Medication containment units will be available that will not only keep track of quantities, but will also read bar-coded information provided with the medication and provide appropriate reminders to the resident about medication intervals and dosage. Detoxification from drug interactions is a widespread problem among older adults. Technology applied to the appropriate control and dispensing of medications will be of great importance. Over time, these products can become part of a system of health care that is supported by technology and a new form of health care system that sustains individual independence, helps control the costs of health care through emphasis on awareness and preventative measures, and provides the appropriate interventions only when necessary.
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