The next time a family member is ill forget about queuing at the clinic and instead get a diagnosis online from your GP via a home video link.
Cisco, Sun Microsystems and online digital access service (DSL) provider GTE believe such family issues can be managed online via its 'connected family' technology. The companies are demonstrating the connected family at Sun's 'Sun.com home' at the Consumer Electronics Show being held in Las Vegas this week.
A home network using GTE's DSL network to connect together home appliances have been built using Sun's Java and Jini and Cisco's Internet Home Gateway.
The connected family environment enables users to manage household calendars at home or remotely while groceries can be reordered via flat panel displays using interactive voice response or a barcode. A video conferencing unit is also included which could be linked directly to your GP.
Other features include a remote video surveillance and home management system, information retrieval for updates on news and weather together with personal email boxes, remotely controlled home entertainment systems and an automatic alert system if any devices breakdown.
In the Sun.com home visitors can see the connected family at work. In the kitchen, for example, a flat panel display can be used to download recipes from websites and add ingredients onto shopping lists. A customised kitchen portal provides access to connected appliances around the room such as the coffee maker which can be activated to brew coffee to your own personal taste. New features, such as different brew settings, can be dowloaded using Cisco's Internet Home Technology gateway.
Other networked devices include interactive dishwashers, televisions, screen phones and barcode scanners as well as related services from vendors including Nokia, Bosch Siemens, Whirlpool, Sharp and Weight Watchers.
Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive of Sun, said: "The service driven network, as seen in this project, is destined to improve the quality of life of consumers worldwide by simplifying access to a variety of devices and a host of information, communication and services."
Beginning in the spring Cisco, Sun and GTE will ask for feedback on the project from appliance, consumer electronics, wireless manufacturers and third party vendors as well as solution and content providers. The companies have not revealed when connected family will actually be piloted.
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