Disney's New House of the Future
The Monsanto House of the Future was an attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim, California from 1957 to 1967. The attraction featured a modern home as it was thought it might appear in the year 1986. The house saw over 20 million visitors before it closed. It simply became outdated.
For an entire decade Disneyland visitors lined up to see the future, a home crammed with “modern” gadgets such as hand free phones, wall-sized televisions, plastic chairs and electric razors and toothbrushes.
It was a central square room with four wings. The center comprised the kitchen and bathroom. "It was a sort of command center, where the housewife of the future could control the entire house," explained Gary Van Zante, a curator at the MIT Museum, which now owns the drawings of the house. The house remained until the introduction of New Tomorrowland in 1967, but closed shortly afterwards.
In February 2008, Disney announced it would bring back the attraction with a newer, more modern version. The $15 million investment would be called the Innoventions Dream Home. It opened in May of 2008 and is located inside the Innoventions attraction. The round Innoventions pavilion at Disneyland was originally the Carousel Theater, home of the General Electric Carousel of Progress (1967-1973) and America Sings (1974-1988).
Guests are introduced to new, cutting edge technologies from Microsoft and other technology industry leaders. These innovations integrate today’s digital lifestyle, with the technology of tomorrow allowing inhabitants to enjoy live and recorded entertainment. These entertainment devices and personal computers from Hewlett Packard helps the family stay connected and simplifies their daily activities.
The Dream Home’s wireless technology by Life|ware recognizes individual family members as they enter a room and tailors it to their individual tastes. “It’s both ‘high-tech’ and ‘high-touch,’” said Greg Atkins, writer and director for the free-form Innoventions Dream Home experience. According to Atkins, many of the devices are actually available today.
Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft said: “We’re constantly visualizing how tomorrow’s software will transform how we’ll work, play and communicate. “By partnering with Disneyland, we can show people how technology can enrich our lives today, and offer a glimpse of the technologies that will revolutionize homes in the future.”
The Front Yard also has its’ attractions. With the touch of a button, the outside appearance of the Home can be changed. Not only are individuals recognized as they enter their domicile, the dog door can even identify the family dog! In the Great Room, pictures on the walls and music in the sound system can automatically adjust to the preferences of whichever family member is in the room.
In the center of the room, is a “coffee table book”…actually an interactive touch screen with content from the library. Pages of a book can be turned simply by touching the screen.
Like most kitchens, it is more than a place for food preparation. It’s where the calendar and family photos and works of art are displayed. A virtual bulletin board posts messages and schedules along with digital photos and the children’s hand-drawn creations.
The Kitchen is also fully interconnected with appliances that “talk” to each other, including the grocery items! For example, if a bag of flour is placed on the counter, a computer voice of will provide recipes and instructions to prepare the meals. If ingredients are missing or out-of-date, the interconnected pantry and refrigerator will create a shopping list on the virtual bulletin board.
In the Dining Room is a table with a large interactive surface, inlayed with computers. When a family puts their mobile phones on it, photos and videos spill across the screens. Images can be viewed and enlarged with a simple touch.
The table can also be used to create art, do homework or assemble video puzzles…with multiple family members all at once. A Dining Room memory cabinet displays photographs or art work fitting for any occasion, activated by objects placed on its shelf.
In the family room is the entertainment center. With the touch of a button, the room transforms into a state-of-the-art home theater with a 100 inch television screen. The curtains close, the lights dim and then the 7.1 surround sound puts the view in the center of the action. And across the room is the home office, with a desk and chair like those of Walt Disney’s own Studio office.
The home features two children’s rooms. One is a teen daughter’s room and the other, a younger son’s room. At her desk, the daughter can easily connect with friends or her favorite entertainment or change the photos and posters in her room. In front of the virtual Magic Mirror, hairstyles, accessories and clothes are projected and viewed as they will look on her. As she gestures, the clothes and hair move with her. The software also analyzes what clothing is in the closet, laundry or have been borrowed.
The younger son’s room is no less impressive. It’s a boy’s dream come true. The bed is a pirate ship, complete with onboard cannon. And the room merges technology with classic storytelling. When someone begins to tell a story, it literally jumps off the pages, immersing the entire room with special effects, including video that appears on the ship’s sail and the surrounding walls.
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