Far fetched, high concept gadgets in movies and TV shows are one thing. But which fictional smart homes, mansions and apartments do we dream of actually living in?
The living, breathing, ultra intelligent smart home isn't quite a reality yet – despite the best efforts of visionaries past – but that hasn't stopped science fiction and superhero movie makers from setting the action in stunning connected homes that would make Elon envious.
From robot servants (usually feminised, sigh) to scene screen window blinds, consider the following examples as inspiration and instructions for your next DIY home tech project.
Theodore Twombly's apartment (Her)
We want. To live. In this apartment. Or at least house-sit for a while. There's the usual automatic, motion sensing lights when Theodore gets home to his building in a near future LA/Shanghai. But what's really appealing is the lack of screens – Samantha, his 'OS', is set up on the iMac style desktop on his desk but she talks to him through a inconspicuous smart earbud.
Theodore kicks back with a projected VR/AR game that tracks his hand gestures, lets him chat naturally to the sweary in-game character and pulls up images of his upcoming date overlaid over his swanky future-retro furniture. Samantha and his animated, in-game pal even start to bicker. Oh and Twombly's pastel coloured office is just as swoon-worthy. We salute you, Spike Jonze.
Officer K's apartment (Blade Runner 2049)
A cross between The Fifth Element and Her vibes, the Blade Runner sequel – set in yes, 2049 – gives its hero Officer K an industrial retro aesthetic mashed up with suitably futuristic person/motion sensing lights and shower.
The star of the show, though, is Joi – a holographic AI companion who tells her owner whatever he or she wants to hear. Joi works via a control console on the wall and what looks like a moving projector on the ceiling (plus a portable one for outside chats). She can also light e-cigarettes with her finger and 'cook' up K's boring food into a lush dinner. Everyone wants a wife! And a digital one seems nice when the people on the stairs are such meanies.
Stark mansion (Iron Man)
There's a lot of tech to love in Iron Man – hands up how many people want Tony Stark's glowing 3D hologram models of buildings and elements to be real – but some of the best nods to future smart homes are the simplest.
Like this alarm clock sequence in which Jarvis elegantly wakes up one of Stark's 'friends' with a swift opening of the blinds, an audio report including surf conditions and see-through screens covering every inch of window showing the weather and other essential morning info. Echo Spot needs to pay attention – we're not waking up for anything less than this.
The McFly house (Back to the Future II)
Welcome home, Jennifer. Marty McFly's 2015 abode, which Jennifer ends up visiting when she is separated from them in the future, comes complete with scene screen windows tuned to the scenery channel; five second Black & Decker pizza hydrators; voice controlled fruit baskets; TV visors and well, what's essentially Skype on a smart TV.
A dorky, vintage connected family home with fax machines everywhere. The wallpaper needs sprucing up but otherwise we'd totally live here.
Nathan's lab (Ex Machina)
We're not sure if Philips Hue sponsored Alex Garland's artificial intelligence thriller, but the reclusive CEO/mad scientist Nathan's lab retreat gives us the best (and perhaps only) smart lighting disco scene in cinema history.
At the click of a button, Nathan (Oscar Isaac) puts on Get Down Saturday Night and shakes his ass with his maid Kyoto in front of a wall of synchronised, coloured lights. It's epic – just watch it. Fun fact: you can actually stay in the building used in the movie, it's a hotel in the Valldal valley, Norway.
The Jetsons house
We can't wait for 2063. Sure, we can already buy plenty of Jetsons smart home tech – flatscreen TVs, robot vacuums, video conferencing. But we want a toast/record/husband ejector, space boots to walk on the ceilings, living room travelators, robot toothbrushes and most of all, that food-o-matic machine. A sassy Android servant would be handy too.
Still, as early as episode 1 we get a taste of what could happen when the smart home has teething problems – placing an order for cooked food and music coming out of the garbage disposal, say. Then there's the future injuries – when you're pushing buttons to wash, iron and cook all day, you can't forget your morning push button finger exercises.
Korben Dallas' flat (The Fifth Element)
In Luc Besson's The Fifth Element, taxi driver Korben Dallas squeezes an automatic pull-out bed, a cigarette machine that tells him to quit, lights and music that wake up when he does, a moving shower/fridge compartment, coffee machine and a button-based control panel into his tiny, modular South Brooklyn 'studio'. Seriously, Ikea's got nothing on this tech space-saving.
The Smart House kitchen
Way back in 1999 Disney made a TV movie about a smart house and, well, the house was pretty incredible. It featured an ever-present AI named Pat that took care of all your needs, including dietary. It could sense what bad food you ate and what kind of food you'd need, and give you the food that would make you the most healthy.
If you're hungry, all you have to do is ask Pat for something and she'll deliver. Strawberry smoothie? No problem. Now if only Alexa could make our smart home dreams come true.
The Sandin household (The Purge)
OK, so maybe this doesn't turn out all that well in the movie, but you can't deny that the smart security chops in the home in The Purge are pretty cool. You can see what's happening outside and inside, and you can easily arm and disarm the home with a touch of a button.
You can also use your tablet to watch your streams and transfer content to and from your big TV monitors. And, well, The Purge also serves as a reminder that there are still problems with smart security systems. Namely, humans.
Wallace's house (Wallace and Gromit)
He might not be into Wi-Fi but what Wallace understands about making life that little bit easier via nifty home inventions is that what we really want from robots – or contraptions – is for them to fetch stuff for us, to actually do things for us, not just chat.
Whether it's the Tellyscope that physically pushes the TV power button towards his finger or Wallace's famous Techno Trousers, it's all good fun but our absolute fave is the Snoozatron complete with mechanical arms to put hot water bottles and teddies in place. Sometimes it's good to show your working.
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