During my Chicago trip to run the Hot Chocolate 15K, I arranged a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. I was particularly interested in seeing one of their exhibits, The "Smart Home". The Smart Home is a pre-fab modular home and was conceived by Michelle Kaufmann. Here is a picture of the house, built right on the Museum's property, and some photos of the interior of the house.
For the exhibit, the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) partnered with Gizmodo and threw in some of the latest technology to make the house even more amazing.
The Smart Home is equipped with a home automation system that monitors and controls the energy consumption of every room and appliance, all from a single touch screen panel.
The system reports how much energy a resident consumes and produces (from the solar film on the roof or the 45-foot wind turbine on the front lawn) by the day and hour so they can discover ways to curb consumption.
The whole house can be placed in “hibernation” mode while the resident is away, and the system will lower shades, turn off lights, turn down heat/air in the house and bring energy usage to a minimum.
Let's start with my favorite room! The kitchen! It features: Induction cooktops, built-in wall oven with speed convection to save cooking time, a tabletop composter that recycles its weight in waste every 10 days, and countertops made from mixed waste paper, recycled glass, and low carbon cement (over 50 percent post-consumer recycled content.)
The living room features vintage chairs sourced locally and upholstered in recycled car tires, a rug made from reclaimed wool from vintage kilim rugs that have been unraveled and rewoven in the Turkish countryside, a walnut console that was found in an industrial firm and was sanded down to raw wood and refinished, and metal globe stands that have been repurposed into lamps.
The dining room has a salvaged plank table, shade system with automated window treatments, dual pane windows, and a chandelier made from old CFL tubes.
In the master bath, there is a Cybertecture Mirror on the wall. It is fog-resistant and waterproof. It also can deliver the day’s time, temperature, news and traffic at a glance.
It has different light settings, keeps track of weight gain/loss, and can connects to friends on Facebook! (Not while I am in the bathroom, thanks!)
In this room there is also an anti-bacterial solar toothbrush that cleans your teeth without toothpaste by using electrons that react to acid in your saliva.
Here's part of the garden growing outside the Smart Home and some of the patio furniture.
To hear more about Michelle Kaufmann, and how she came up with the concept for the Smart Home, you can listen to an interview with her here. And below is a time lapse of the four month construction process.
I also took pictures of some other museum exhibits that caught my eye. I'd really love to have a dress like this!
And below are garments with sensors in them that can be given a signal
via text to contract and "hug" the wearer.
During my visit, there was an exhibit called Month at the Museum. Kevin Byrne, a digital marketing analyst from Chicago lived inside MSI for 30 days during October & November. He was allowed to roam the museum at will, but this is the space where he hung out most of the time.
Another big highlight for me at the museum is this little cinema. Inside they play silent movies and animated shorts. I could have sat in there all day long.
For more information on the museum, visit their website here. You can connect with them on Facebook here, and follow them on twitter here.