What 1989's 'home of the future' got right, wrong about life in 2023

2023-03-23 15:07:46 By : Ms. Sunnie Huang

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More than three decades ago, Iowa Power unveiled its "Home of the Future" at the 1989 Home and Garden Show. It was a glimpse of what innovators thought futuristic houses might look like.

The showcase was filled with cutting-edge technology and revolutionary innovations. Many of the predictions were eerily accurate, while some were well off base.

Let's take a look at what they got right and what they got wrong about the modern-day home.

The Home Manager computer system was a groundbreaking idea that allowed homeowners to control every aspect of their house with the touch of a finger. Room temperature and electric curtains could be managed straight from a touchscreen. It could even be controlled remotely with a digital touch-tone phone.

Though the interface is much different, we have smart home systems today that control lights, thermostats, and even door locks. They can be accessed through a central system at your house or on an app on your smartphone.

The “House of the Future” featured a stationary computer on the kitchen counter. Personal computers were still a novelty in 1989. The ease of a machine that could store recipes or make shopping lists without the use of pen and paper was a novelty.

The stationary computer is not a feature common in modern homes. Smartphones and tablets reduce the need for a computer, especially one that takes up valuable counter space. Even if a computer is required in the kitchen, laptops are more convenient.

The front door camera was an expensive innovation in the '90s. Visitors could be viewed on CCTV without opening the door or the inconvenience of a peephole.

Now doorbell cameras, motion sensors and other Wi-Fi-enabled security systems can be controlled from an app on your smartphone. Package deliveries can be remotely monitored and smoke detectors can call 911 immediately.

The idea of an audio-visual entertainment center has been around since the '60s, but the technology envisioned was new and exciting. A television, VCR and music player were the central focus. Speakers in every room allowed for easy listening throughout the house.

Today, we have smart TVs with internet connectivity, voice assistants and streaming services. Whatever your entertainment choice, the selection can be made straight from your TV. Smart speakers are easily available and allow music to be enjoyed in any part of the home. They can also control home automation, play games and help with shopping.

Bidets were featured in the large, luxurious bathroom. They were a rare and extravagant luxury in the past. It was prominently displayed next to the toilet.

Today, bidets are still rare. For those who lean in that direction, smart toilets with heated seats, self-cleaning features and bidet functionality are available. No need for two thrones when one will do.

The futuristic fridge of the past was covered in buttons to control every aspect of keeping food cold and fresh. Water and ice dispensers were available on the front door for all hydration needs.

Smart refrigerators have replaced buttons with touch screens. Built-in cameras and voice assistants help control the fridge. Many can aid in building shopping lists or even place an order for grocery delivery. Some can even take stock of what ingredients are available and suggest recipes.

A wall-mounted hair dryer was another fixture of the reimagined bathroom. A hair bonnet would attach to it and the user would be tethered in place until finished.

Hair dryers can still be seen mounted to walls today, but hotels are the only places that do this regularly. The bonnet has also fallen out of favor. Hair dryers are plugged in and then tucked away after use. Wireless hair dryers are an option for those who disdain cords.

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