Watch Microsoft's smart home of the future, from 1999

Smart homes are all the rage these days with connected appliances and devices all controlled from your smartphone or tablet. But, while the technology is constantly evolving, the concept in itself is nothing new. The video, created in 1999, shows how the company was imagining a smart home of the future back then.

In 1999 most of us were thinking about Ross and Rachel from Friends, Y2K and how much better our new 56 kbps dial-up modem was going to be for internet porn. But Microsoft was thinking about the future, a future in which the internet and smart devices would be ubiquitous and they’d all come together into a smart home.

The video, first dug up by Winbeta, portrays this home-of-tomorrow, with everything from facial recognition to media centers, to smart ovens, to Windows 98 and CE being everywhere. It’s really interesting to watch how these same concepts evolved into what we know today as smartphones, Xbox, Cortana, Smartglass and so on.

The video also shows something else, something much more important. It shows Microsoft’s incredible ability to predict the future and then utter failure in constructing it. It's not hard to see why this is when you take at how the products were designed, and fitted together. 

All of these services and devices imagined by the company first became popular when one of its rivals ran with the idea and created a great implementation. That's when they became widely available and those are the devices we use today. Microsoft's TabletPC, became the iPad; their Windows Mobile smartphone/PDA became the iPhone; the map and GPS solution showed in the video turned into Google Maps. As for the embedded smart devices, we're just now starting to see them come to market, and none of them are from Microsoft.

Instead of creating the future, the company is stuck playing catch-up with many of their rivals, who are seeing success with products that Microsoft first imagined.

So what do you think? Baring the lack of jetpacks, are we living in the future, or is there some cool tech that’s still missing? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Alie Chang ( Youtube) via: Winbeta

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35 Comments

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mind reels with the possibilities of things thrown into the garbage being automatically added to the shopping list.

the tech and the ideas have been there just taken this long while everyone sorts out how much they can screw the consumer

I'll never understand why companies seem to always pick the person with the most heavy accent to present a video. Pick someone who can pronounce the words clearly!

I'm not just referring to this single incident. I see this everywhere, especially on youtube - corporate videos, not personal.

warwagon said,
I love the size of the Pocket PC it looks like a brick.

WHY does everyone need background music!!!!??

I don't know, but I wish my background music was eye of the tiger, lol!

I actually remember seeing a feature on this on Food Network back then. It was really fascinating to see. The features I remember were barcode scanners on the microwave for cooking soups and a recipe database that would project on the countertop with voice commands for navigation.

I've been thinking about this lately, so definitely a good find!

It would all be classified as 'company secrets' - I bet if Samsung found out about the video above now we'd see announcements for 'smart-pianos' within a month or two.

Yes, MS had it before and Dyson had smart watches before. Sometimes companies don't know how to market their concepts or are just afraid to take a risk in a new area.

Hah I remember seeing a live demo of task gallery, the same principle was implemented in a browser later, I think it was based off Netscape lol.

link8506 said,
It reminds me the Microsoft Cordless Phone:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LIGK3EO4pw

and while we look back at the 90's, there was also Microsoft Task Gallery:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOsQO_EMf-4

while task gallery was mostly a gimmick, it introduced desktop composition and a window manager that inspired Vista's Flip3D, Apple's Exposé, and Sun LookingGlass

I remember watching the Cordless Phone ad off the Win98SE disc! I still like hardware design from back then - solid yet comfortable.

I've never seen the Task Gallery video though. I was thinking throughout it 'eye candy = slow'. Do you think this would have been based off a working prototype or a concept (ie. it was made in a studio and never actually existed)? I'm guessing the latter - if it did exist, I'm sure we would have seen a UI with DirectX rendering back in Windows 98.

68k said,
I remember watching the Cordless Phone ad off the Win98SE disc! I still like hardware design from back then - solid yet comfortable.

I've never seen the Task Gallery video though. I was thinking throughout it 'eye candy = slow'. Do you think this would have been based off a working prototype or a concept (ie. it was made in a studio and never actually existed)? I'm guessing the latter - if it did exist, I'm sure we would have seen a UI with DirectX rendering back in Windows 98.

task gallery was a working prototype, based on a modified version of Windows 2000.

the web site detailing it is still online 14 years later!

http://research.microsoft.com/...eople/dcr/work/taskgallery/

http://research.microsoft.com/...allery/pages/technology.htm

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
So...MS was once again ahead of its time huh.

Yes same as smartwatches but we weren't ready. Apple and Google now "innovate" by giving birth to these concepts.