March 12, 2014

Happy Birthday, Internet!

Today marks the 25th year of the creation of the World Wide Web, created on March 12th, 1989 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Today on the Diane Rehm show NPR, the guests reflected on our global society and how cultures experience the immersion of life on the web in their daily activities. “The World Wide Web turns 25 today. In a little over two decades, the Web has revolutionized the way we communicate, do business, access entertainment and share information. To mark the occasion, we look to the future, when experts say the Internet will become like electricity, permeating our lives and raising questions about privacy, security and even the nature of reality.” (TheDianeRehmShow.org)

As I was on the road driving to some of my kitchen installs today, this had me reflecting on how the Web and technology will affect our industry. The guests on the panel discussed that only 36% of the world is online and that humans are only using 1% of the potential of what the Web can do. So we have 99% of possibility and ingenuity to go, what an exciting thought. One the guests used the metaphor of electricity. He stated that the Web will one day be in our lives like electricity. It will surround us and we won’t be conscientious about the hours we spend online or offline. It will be in the things we touch, in the rooms we enter, in the cars we drive, the places we go and live.

Technology is not only a fast moving animal, it’s one that accelerates exponentially. The Web started on the computer but has quickly moved to phones, security, gaming, televisions, cars, and much more. Where will it debut next?

In my industry of kitchen and bathroom remodeling, we often say to replace a kitchen or bathroom about every 20 years, give or take. Many of the homes we remodel have kitchens or bathrooms that are 30-40 years old. So this discussion today about the future of the Web, connectivity to our entire global world, and the speed of technology has me wondering: Is the rate at which we update our homes and spaces also going to increase in frequency? And where will we next find the Web in our homes?

Smart appliances, smart toilet seats (Toto washlet), touchless and motion controlled faucets, showerheads with blue tooth speakers (Kohler Moxie), Pop-up electrical devices with built in technology docking stations, ovens that know how long to cook your food. I feel like these items are just barely scratching the surface of what is possible. How will the Web play a role into our kitchen and bathroom environments in the next 10 years? 20 years? As a designer I am excited to think about that 99% that is still untapped and undiscovered.

Imagine…. standing in a shower with smart tiles that allow you to browse your favorite web page or scroll through photos. A home that is smart enough to know where you are in the home and run the A/C accordingly. A fridge that can tell you what food is in your fridge and what items you are missing to make the recipe you flagged. Plumbing that can catalog how much water each person in the household uses on a monthly basis. What ideas can you dream up?

Written by: Brooke Eversoll, AKBD
3/12/2014

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