Asumisen arki ja Unelmat

(At home today, tomorrow)

    This set of 12 open-ended, basic FMH scenarios describe life and future conditions from many perspectives. Some of the scenarios are based more on home, some on broader environment (e.g. suburb). The scenarios were constructed to have starting points to discuss with people the possible conditions of the future information environment at home. They are purpouselly open-ended to make room for discussion and development.

Digital future Remote check up Shopping and home Live wall
Digital future 2 Home village Our house Your health
Professional’s tools Home calculator Virtual porch Come and go living

• Digital future

All electronic appliances will sooner or later become computers. All such computers can, when needed, be connected to each other in many different useful ways. What these computers do is based on software which is changeable and can thus be improved.

Different computers can work together and share information; they have a common language, and therefore people don't have to transfer information from one computer to another "by hand".

There's usually enough digital storage space available, because digital data can be moved around and stored anywhere in the net. Storage and data transfer are optimized so that unnecessary storage is made minimal. Information is placed in such a way that people can trust that information important to them is safe.

Devices are as small or as big as is necessary, they are effective and usually wireless. Devices can be built of small components, so that it is easy to design a personal customized solution for any need.

With small wireless digital devices and the global network, people can be constantly connected to each other - it's a personal choice to decide with whom, when, and how much.

People keep track of and manage their digital environment with the help of agents or assistants, presumably so that one An assistant is in charge of all the others.

One can communicate with computers and programs in many different ways and with different appliances; these different ways can be personal and vary according to the user. People will, little by little, develop their own personal ways to express their intentions in the interactions with their digital things.

Material world objects have digital representatives.

Digital things have addresses that can be located with the help of a directory system.

All digital events leave a trace in some digital memory somewhere. As almost every area of life involves digital equipment and events leave lots of traces, this can grow to form a very extensive digital memory of everything we do.

TV channels, newspapers and publishers will lose their exclusive authority to define which materials are available to people. Anyone can get direct access to the sources of information and gather together the kinds of combinations of information that is interesting to them. It is extremely simple and easy to share interesting information with friends.

A large part of all information becomes digital and can therefore move in any digital channel and become usable in any computer - a TV program, a bill, a piece of music, a calendar, a letter, a speech, an answering machine message, a game, a map, a ticket, money - all digital devices can be programmed to understand these.

Media does not escape from your hands and "vanish in the ether", programs are still there to be watched and newspapers there to be read at any time; it's very easy to follow up on things and get informed when new related events take place.

• Professional’s tools (from distance work to local work)

When we talk about distance work, we mean work that's done away from one's work place/office. (Remember the TV commercials that show businessmen typing away on their laptops while sailing). One emphasis of the distance work discussion has been keeping the remote areas with difficult access inhabited by introducing distance work as an option to work from these areas.

There are several problems concerning distance work in its current state. Only some occupations are suitable. A reasonable deal of self-motivation is required from the participants, not least concerning the appliances. And a lot of people have found the community at work an indispensability.

What if you didn't have to go far to do your work, if you could do it in your local neighborhood?

Could local work be something that you could do from home?

Which occupations could be considered for local work (a nurse, an electrician, a policeman, a cook, and a maintenance/service person)?

An entrepreneur could possibly look for clients in the local area?

Under what conditions could you work like this?

How well could you work within these arrangements (how large a part of your work could be done like this)?

What are the positive and the negative aspects of local work?

A data transfer would deliver the tasks for the day

A personal agent would keep your log book/ reservations (a simple system)

Tool logistics

-Tools that are needed regularly; they tell you if they're breaking down

- Warehouse supply: reminds you if a refill is needed

- A contact and a relationship to the clients/residents can be formed through digital means

• Remote check up (the bug)

There are lots of surveillance cameras in public places nowadays. What if anyone in their own neighborhood could keep an eye on something important to them, like their car parked on the side of the road, with the help of a small mobile camera - the bug?

Bugs could be placed in the public areas of residence buildings where surveillance is mostly needed, for instance in the bike shelter or the parking lot.

Who would be allowed to place these appliances and who would be allowed to control them - the whole house, the maintenance company (or only the person who originally put them there?)

What do you want to see or hear?

A surveillance camera in the yard, in the corridor, in your own apartment - what's your opinion?

Who should be allowed to look at the monitor - the janitor, the residents, the security company?

If you could use a remote check up appliance and see whether you left the stove on, the lights on, the sauna on or see how your flowers or pets were doing - if you could find out without actually going home?

If there was a small camera, like an eye, in your cupboard, and you could see what's in there whenever you wanted? And maybe these eyes- or ears- could be placed elsewhere in the apartment. Maybe a small hearing device near your child when he's outside playing. An eye at the entrance to your house to tell you who's coming in ?

These devices are vulnerable to suspicious uses. A jealous spouse could spy on the other.

A remote eye or ear should always be easily perceptible and have an on/off mechanism. This too will raise suspicions- what is the other person doing when s/he doesn't let me watch.

A portable eye could increase one's sense of security - if the troublemaker is taped and the footage is recorded and can be monitored elsewhere, it gets easier to find and pinpoint the guilty one.

• Home village

A city is not a village and an urbanite is accustomed to getting his needs fulfilled by the service sector and not very accustomed to bustling about with his neighbors. On the other hand a village does have its positive features, for instance one might need a bit of neighborly help every once in a while, but that might be hard to find in a city. A virtual home village would lend an "official" neighborly hand. Our house- system allows one to make bookings and to inform others about them. The virtual porch enables one to restrict the flow of information to the people of one's choice.

Is there something you're good at? Or something you'd want to do? Or services you'd want to pay for? If the taxing system were different or the trading of services more common?

Is there a good baby sitter in your neighborhood?

Maybe you bake really good cakes and are willing to sell some? Maybe you need help with your car and could trade the service you got for some piano lessons?

Maybe you have an extra room that you could rent out on occasion?

• Home calculator

Would you want to have a better way of checking up on your home - on the costs of living, on your economy, on your storage system? A home calculator could be a penny saver or an eco-saver. You could program it to do different tasks.

If you'd want to know how much water or electricity you're using, the information would be easily available on your home calculator. You could more easily have an effect on your living costs.

What if it was altogether easier to check on things at home? A lot of companies have effective computer programs running their storage systems and checking up on their cost-effectiveness. Why couldn't private people do the same?

You could, for instance, check up on your spending, or on how you've used your time?

Would you want to know?

Now when you try to follow up on your spending - or on your income- it's hard to get the whole picture- some bills are paid monthly, some twice a year. Most people face this problem when they're dealing with taxation or are applying for some kind of subsidy.

Would you like to have your home system warning you of overspending? Or reminding you of other matters. Would it be handy if the system sent automatic information to the tax officials? How could your personal information be secured well enough?

What about storage then - it's very common to run out of closet space? Can you find your things in there? Would you get rid of more things if you were aware of every little thing you own? What if all the articles had a label (a sticker of some sort, possibly like bar codes in super markets) to stop them from disappearing and enabling you to keep a log book on your home storage.

• Who will carry the shopping home in the future?

Carrying heavy bags is one of the problems of our contemporary shopping system and cars are one solution.

Then again not everyone owns a car and why should they? Why should everyone have to make the trip (pay for the deliverance of goods) themselves?

But we want to choose ourselves? Do we really? Everything? Aren't there quite a lot of goods in every household that we just always need, buy a new one when the old is finished? Would a bulk service be handy - milk, toilet paper and tissues, sugar, cereals, flour, diapers, juice would be delivered home.

Maybe we'd have a chance and time to buy fresh groceries (like bananas and tomatoes) from farmer's markets or delicatessens if getting the bulk goods got easier.

Where would the store deliver the goods?

At home: a hatch by the door or a refrigerator

Down at the basement: a cellar with cold storage rooms with padlocks.

To a nearby shop that stores your bulks and provides for other things - a 24-hour store, a snack shop, a bar.

You could get anything from your local store (ordered through the net by the shop keeper, making it safe for you, as you could return the goods you're not satisfied with).

• Our house

If in the near future everyone's connected to a common information system in any case, could the system be used to make the use of the common rooms/areas more flexible.

Could one for example use the sauna outside the scheduled hours. If the sauna is available you could find out in real time.

If the sauna is usually heated from Tuesdays to Saturdays between 5 and 11 p.m., everyone will be able to have a reserved hour, but those who want more can pay for two hours and then freely book the sauna on available times. Or one could pay per used hours.

Laundry rooms have sometimes been underused because of uneffective reservation systems and problems with keys etc. What if it was really easy to make the reservation, and pop in when ever you needed to, would laundry rooms replace private washing machines?

And if it was easy and flexible to use the common areas of the house, could other things be shared too?

What if there was a shared guest room in the house, that you could book easily, everyone having a certain quota reserved for them.

• Virtual porch

We don't necessarily know our neighbors in an apartment house and maybe we don't want to know them. Still there's probably a time or a situation when you'd like to know more about some of them. What if the residents could have their own home pages, where they could introduce themselves, saying as much as each of them wanted?

For example

    Michael Jones

    • An entrepreneur
    • Has a small fly-fishing shop downtown
    • Hobbies: jogging

    Mary McDonnell

    • A secretary, at home with the kids
    • Married to Henry McDonnell
    • Children Ellyn (5 years) and Jamie (1)

Why would you want to give out information about yourself or seek out information about others? You could ask Michael for fly-fishing tips, he might want company for jogging. Mary might need a baby sitter and sometimes be willing to take a few extra kids for a couple of hours for a small fee.

The homepages will form a kind of virtual porch. Some people will be let to the threshold, others are invited into the hallway. The neighbors that you now best could be allowed to see your holiday pictures, strangers might only know your name - just like nowadays - or maybe your profession and your family relations.

The virtual porch could have a message board with information about the goings-on of the neighborhood. In particular it could hold information that isn't published in local newspapers. For instance you could announce your plans to organize a children's s skiing trip. The message board could be used for selling and buying things and services.

• Live wall

If a wall could be a display, a TV screen, what would you want it to show?

The wall could provide

- a way to be connected to people, like a kind of a phone.
- a way of running errands, like the computer now
- the wall could broadcast your favorite scenery, it could be in real-time or it could just as well be an window to another place.

What would you want with such a wall?

Where would you place it in your apartment and why?

• Your health

Elderly and chronically ill people usually want to live at home as long as possible. Still, they often need to choose a nursing home as it is not possible to arrange health monitoring and health care at home. What if it would be possible to observe one's health at home and contact a doctor easily, if needed. Also, if moving around is difficult, it would be possible to run errands and to be in touch with people from home.

Mary has a high blood pressure and she has experienced a minor stroke once. After the stroke her relatives wanted her to put on a bracelet with which her condition can be monitored. The bracelet is connected to the home central unit. If there’ too big of a change in her blood pressure, it informs Mary. If there is a sudden dramatic change in her condition, if Mary for instance loses her consciousness, the central unit connects her straight to the local health center.

Because of her illnesses Mary has to see a doctor regularly. Moving is difficult for her and queuing up to see a doctor is tiring. Nowadays she can contact the doctor directly via e-mail or through video connections from home. She can send the doctor an e-mail and describe her symptoms. On basis of Mary’s descriptions and an examination the doctor may recommend her web pages where she can get more detailed information about her illness from experts. Mary can also discuss her symptoms though a video connection with the doctor.

Mary can also use the video connection when socializing with her relatives, who live far from her. (Mary lives in Vantaa, but her first grandchild lives in Kuopio). She talks with her granddaughter almost every day.

Sometimes it is feared that distant connections will replace "real" contacts with people. One might think that, for instance, people are in contact with each other only through video connections. But different new ways of being in contact can also be seen as complementary to other ways of communicating.

• Come and go living

It has been widely discussed that in the future, work and work markets are not as tied to a specific place as they nowadays are. Mobility of the work force might even be more common, and some will temporarily work abroad (like nurses in Norway and builders in Germany). Or maybe many of us can do distance work regardless of where the employer is.

Since work doesn't tie one into a particular place, it’s probably unnecessary to live one’s whole life in one place either. What if the way we live would change so that we would spend part of the year elsewhere (at work or at holiday)? Could rental housing be more common than owning your own apartment?

Would we still want to have the opportunity to get an apartment from surroundings which are familiar for us? It could be so that different booking/reserving opportunities could make it possible to return to one's own house or area.

Many people would like to stay in their vacation homes for a longer time than just the holidays. What if the vacation home were nearby or one didn’t need to go anywhere because of work?

If come and go living were possible, what would we want to take with us and what would be stored away and where would that be?

In the digital future it is possible that everything- text, images, sound - can be stored digitally. Our storages could be in the net, and we could contact them regardless of place. It would not be necessary to pack and physically move video cassettes, CD’s, books or photos.

FMH GROUP 1997-2000