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A brave new interactive world.

It's said that the single most frequent failure in the history of forecasting has been grossly underestimating the impact of technologies. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than for the PC.

The PC has been relentless in fundamentally reshaping the way we work, learn and play--and the way we move about, shop and socialize.

The PC has become a multipurpose tool. Think about it: The same PC can be used today as a telephone, fax machine, modem and TV; a node on the office network; a tool for educating children or managing personal finances; a place to play entertaining CD-ROMs; a connection to the increasingly commercialized Internet.

By the end of this year, the worldwide installed base of PCs will approach 200 million, according to IDC, or double 1990's figure. And PCs will be in nearly 40 percent of U.S. homes, according to Link Resources.

We believe multiple PCs in your home will be as common as multiple phones or TVs are today. These PCs will take a variety of new forms and do different styles of computing in different rooms.

For example, your living room PC might have a large screen and a wood-grained enclosure.

Your kitchen PC might blend a telephone, a sophisticated messaging system and links for electronic commerce--all activated by a touch-sensitive screen.

Your den or study PC could have a CD-ROM jukebox for reference, and a link to your office computer and databases.

Your home mobile PC would use wireless communications and voice recognition.

And attached to your playroom PC would be multimedia and "edutainment" peripherals such as joysticks and virtual reality helmets.

All of these room-based PC devices will be linked through a home local-area network--or LAN. That way, they can share software, hard drives, modems and printers--and have access to the Information Highway.

But the home LAN goes well beyond computer-to-computer traffic. It also enables your computer to interact with your home's subsystems. For example, you'll be able to call in from a remote location and--using voice recognition technology--actually speak to your house.

And you'll say: "House, set the thermostat to 70 degrees. Turn the microwave oven on at 5:30 to defrost dinner. Set the VCR to record Seinfeld at 9 p.m. on NBC. Turn on the outside lights. Heat the spa, and change the security code to 8-1-5-4-E-P."

What's more, your house will interact with various service providers such as utility companies. For example, it will be possible to buy electric power at off-peak hours, or even monitor charges for your phone or cable TV bills in real time.

We're convinced your entire house is going to be smart and interactive.

What we're ultimately driving toward is a global, PC-centric communications infrastructure that will enable you to work anywhere and play anywhere.

Even if your virtual office of the moment happens to be a beach on Bora Bora, you'll conduct business with all the immediacy and capability of your so-called real office--the one with your name and room number on the door.
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Author:Pfeiffer, Eckhard
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Article Type:Column
Date:Sep 18, 1995
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