“My smart house can do just about anything,” begins Disney’s 1999 Smart House.
“Do your winners have to have extensive computer knowledge to live in the smart house?," asks a reporter to Sara Barnes, the programmer of the house.
“No, absolutely not. Pat is the most user friendly home on the block.” Pat is the name of the smart house, and speaks with a woman's voice. Pat stands for "personal applied technology".
“How does Pat actually get to know and learn about her new occupants?”
“The same way you or I would, she observes them, studies their habits, and keys into their every need.”
For better and worse, this is exactly the path that technology has taken ever since the movie aired.
What features in the movie predicted the future? Which things got it totally wrong?
- Voice identification—Check.
- Pat takes blood and tissue samples in order to analyze characters bodies—Theranos is-was?-close.
- Entire walls can turn into scenic scenes or TV. When they turn a scene to the ocean, they can literally feel the sea mist—Nothing exactly like this exists.
- Pat’s atmospheric kitchen sensors act as stabilizers and analyze entire diets and nutrition levels—kinda like fitness apps or FitBit and Jawbone.
- The entire house has floor absorbers. In one scene the kids have just had a party and are hurrying to clean up before Dad gets home. They simply dump everything on the floor and Pat absorbs it in seconds—The second that someone makes this is the second they become a billionaire. All Mom’s out there wish there was something like this.
- There’s a “secretarial mode”. Pat can call numbers and email addresses—much like the ones in our cars.
- With biorhythm analysis Pat can pick the exact outfits that characters themselves would’ve picked—Nothing like this exists.
- Pat does homework—There’s some robots that sort of do this, but looks like the kids are still stuck with homework, unless they go to fiverr.com to get it done.
- Pat can play fetch with the family dog—iFetch now exists. It’s a machine that will play fetch with your dog.
- Pat can call people through a TV screen and have face to face contact—a la Skype.
- Golfing simulators—Though they were invented in the 70’s, they’ve gradually built steam since the 90’s.
- Newspaper retrieval system—Two words: the internet.
- The kicker is that no cell phones appear in the movie, and using the internet still clogs the phone line. #opps