CEATEC 2008: The house of the future - at home with Ma and Pa Nasonic

This is Panasonic's vision of the future, forming the centrepiece of its stand here at CEATEC in Japan. And it reckons this is how we'll be living in the next three to five years.

The whole home, owned by a bright, dressed in white young couple - let's call them Ma and Pa Nasonic - is connected wirelessly, from the floor to celing window, able to turn into an environmental display, to the plasma TV, which glides through the home as you move around.

The TV is at the heart of the home, as you might expect, showing the family photographs, playing Blu-ray Disc movies, and even keeping an eye on the security and energy consumption, while controlling the fuel cell in the back yard.

Ma Nasonic checks her reflection in the floor-to-ceiling mirror, which doubles as a gesture-controlled display. It can check out her health, suggest exercises and even display the workout routines - all she needs to do is match her reflection to the image on the screen.

And after the exercise it can make calorie-counted recipe suggestions, checking what's in the fridge and setting the oven to the right temperature to cook the meal.

Our happy couple go to eat, noting that the TV has moved to the dining area, the sound is coming from flat-panel wireless speakers in the ceiling, and the lights have set themselves to create the mood.

They ignore the woman in the headset who seems to be addressing an imaginary audience - she came with the house and they don't seem to be able to get rid of her. Ma Nasonic sometimes finds herself thinking 'There were three of us in the marriage...'

Fast--forward a few more years and it's 2015. The TV has expanded to take over an entire wall of the home, and is now called a Life Wall.

Its You-Know-Me-TV functionality allows it to recognise the viewer, and provide suitable content, from pictures to TV to communications to internet, and the Stay-With-Me-TV system lets the image follow the viewer as they move around the room, even increasing and decreasing the image size as the distance between you and the screen changes.

The whole family uses the Life Wall for everything from entertainment to online shopping, and from education to interacting with friends. When they call up, Ma Nasonic's friends appear full-size on the wall, just like they were in the room.

Pa Nasonic says this is one of the big benefits of the Life Wall - they no longer have to go out and visit friends. He says 'Think of how good that is for the environment now we don't have to drive or get the train'.

His wife isn't so sure. She misses lunch with the girls, but she's taking cello lessons - her teacher appears on the Life Wall and they play together.

She's learning the Elgar Cello Concerto. The dark, sombre mood appeals to her...

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.