The term high technology, or high tech, describes advanced developments in such areas as electronics and computers. High technology has introduced the use of the integrated circuit, or computer microchip, into the home. These microchips are small enough to fit on a fingertip, yet can control many important functions in home entertainment, communication, and security systems. Other technological advances have improved appliances and lighting for homes, making them more convenient and more energy efficient.


Today's appliances are more automated, provide more convenience, and save more energy than past models. For example, some refrigerators can alert you if a door is left ajar or if maintenance is needed. Dish-washers are being designed that can sense how dirty the dishes are and provide the appropriate level of cleaning. What other types of "smart" appliances would you like to see developed?


Home lighting has been improved in recent years. For example, light bulbs for use throughout the home have been manufactured to last up to 60,000 hours, the equivalent of 7 years of nonstop use. (Where they are not used continuously, the bulbs can last as long as 15 years.) These bulbs work by mercury vapor gas molecules releasing ultraviolet radiation, which produces the light. Savings translate to lower energy bills.


High technology has redefined people's idea of entertainment. Home entertainment systems—including videocassette recorders, video game systems, and computer game software—have all been improved by recent technology. The satellite dish, another innovation, is offering more channels and better reception to television viewers at increasingly lower costs.


A modem allows the user to connect to another computer that may be thousands of miles away. With modems, people can send and receive information in seconds or minutes. They can exchange E-mail, or electronic mail; post messages on electronic bulletin boards; "chat" with other computer users; and tap the resources of on-line computer services. The Internet—avast web of computer networks—is becoming an increasingly valuable means of communication. For example , many people now turn to the World Wide Web, a part of the Internet, to find information about products, services, hobbies, government resources, and many other topics. People can even shop for a new home using the Internet.


Electronic door locks are a very reliable method of securing a home. They allow doors to be locked or Unlocked with the push of a button. Locks can even be hooked up to a timer for automatic locking at night, or they can be activated from a remote location. If a person does not want to use keys to lock a door, a lock that is powered by a battery and an infrared light is available. When the user touches the doorknob a small light appears just above it. Then, to lock the door, the person enters an access code by turning the knob back and forth. A dog-barking device can be installed inside a home. This device works with a radar sensor that detects intruders up to 20 feet (6 m) away. When an intruder is detected, realistic dog-barking sounds are activated to scare the intruder away. If the intruder comes closer, the barking gets louder.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is a system gaining in popularity for use in those areas of a home that owners would like tokeep secure. They might want to view children playing in a backyard pool, a baby asleep in a nursery, or unexpected guests approaching the front door. The system installs in a television set, and separate cameras are placed in the areas to be observed. With a remote control, a home-owner can check each site and view the home area on the television screen. The homeowner also can speak through a telephone hooked up to an intercom in the area being observed.


The advances described on the preceding pages are only a small part of home technology. Some homes are equipped with automated management systems, central control unitsi that oversee daily functions in a home. Such automated systemsare designed to nmximize comfort, convenience, and safety while minimizing energy use.

In one system. wall outlets are provided throughout the house not only for electrical appliances but also for gas appliances,telephones, and audio and video equipment. These outlets are linked to a central computer "brain.- When plugged into the outlets, devices that are compatible with the system can be operated automatically through programmed instructions or remote commands. When away from home,the homeowner can even enter commands Over the telephone. Here are some examples of what an automated management system Can do.

  1. Sensors can automatically turn lights on when someone enters a room and off when the room is unoccupied.
  2. The water heater can be set to turn itself off when it is not needed and to have hot water ready when it is required.
  3. Baths and showers can be programmed to deliver water at a preset temperature.
  4. A single home entertainment center can send signals to any audio or video outlet in the home.
  5. People can awaken each morning to find the room temperature automatically adjusted, the motorized blinds opened to let the sun in, and coffee brewing.
  6. The system can monitor the efficiency and performance of appliances and alert occupants to any problems.
  7. If a sensor detects smoke, the system's "brain" can sound an alarm, light a safe exit path, turn off unneeded electricity, and call for help.

Installing an automated home system adds considerably to the cost of building a home. In the long run, however, the system may reduce energy bills and insurance costs.

The demand for the most up-to-date housing features continues to grow. In response to this demand, the building industry will increasingly turn to new technology. People will create more advanced tools and methods of construction and invent new materials to make home building even faster and more efficient. As technological knowledge grows, people who rent or buy housing will benefit.

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