Friday, July 06, 2012


"They are thinking about an invisible ultrasonic screen that would keep flies away. "

Imagine a home where the windows automatically close when they sense rain, where the pots and pans hover above the stove, where lights automatically turn on when you enter a room. Imagine a home where your electronics have no cords, built of materials that cost a fraction of the usual construction parts, and is just as strong.

Well someone did that... in 1954. Modern Mechanix has a copy of the old Popular Mechanics magazine article, detailing the house's features.
To phone his office or various friends Fletcher presses a button opposite the name he desires, then lifts the receiver when a signal lamp shows the connection has been made. The actual dialing of the number is performed by a concealed rotary switch.

One of the fantastic features of Fletcher’s house is that its fireplaces have no chimneys. The secret is that the flue doubles back down from above the fireplace opening, then runs under the floor to a central chimney in the middle of the house. It’s an old Chinese principle, so ancient that it seems brand new when put to use.
The house is full of amazing ideas, for the time especially. And it looks awful.

Home of the Future
I'm sure its some hideous late 50s turquoise and coral color, too.

But a lot of the ideas actually are in use commonly today. Telling your phone who to call, for example, is not uncommon (even if it barely works). The heating run through the concrete floor is used in some areas, and the stove system is fairly common as well, its how those stoves you can put your hand on but a metal pan heats up rapidly work. Even if they don't hover (no friction to hold them in place = painfully scalding mess waiting to happen). The closed circuit cameras are around and you can even check and control them with your phone, if you're really dumb and want to open up your home's security system to any geek with a computer.

Some of the ideas are just nuts. The cordless system is just a bad idea, and it forces you to never, ever move anything around. You put the wrong item in the wrong place and its destroyed or burns your house down.

Still, the guy was pretty clever. It took 50 years for tech to catch up, largely because most of the ideas were kind of pointlessly flashy. Sure, they could be done, but why? I can't help but think of Bill Gates' $113 million home that talks to him and the music moves from room to room on speakers hidden behind the wallpaper. How nice for you.

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