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A smart yet practical house

Home of the future you might actually find useful

If you've got £1.5mn to spare, then Techaus have the perfect home for you. It's got a state-of-the-art security system, satellite TV piped into all of the 13 rooms, broadband internet connections throughout and barcode readers that update your internet shopping list.

The house, which is in Shiplake, near Henley on Thames, has been some time in the making. Its developers have been working on the project for 18 months, the aim being to build a house that uses technology in a practical way.

"We didn't try to cram as much technology in as possible into the house and hope that people used it, instead we tried to offer technology that was useful and practical", explains Techaus', James Misselbrook.

He believes that by appealing to women, the company can ensure that that the features it offers will actually be of use to the occupiers. "If you give a lady the opportunity to use something, and she does and she finds it practical, it is likely it will be a useful tool around the home."

Misselbrook believes that other attempts at creating a home of the future, such as the Orange house, have missed the point. "There is a technological ceiling that you cannot go above — Orange tried that little bit too hard", he explains.

During its research Techaus found that people found that people didn't want to rely on computers, as their experience with them at home and work was not that good. "The idea of people walking around with tablet PCs is impractical," Misselbrook says.

Instead the company has "majored heavily on peace of mind, as people find this a very attractive thing," Misselbrook says. The house includes six CCTV cameras, two inside and four outside, which allow the owners to watch what is going on in their property via their TV set.

If the house is broken into, or there is a water leak or fire while the house is empty, the system calls the owner to alert them of the problem. It also has a phone system that calls you up if the doorbell is rung while you are out, or gives the caller the option to leave a voicemail message for you. At night the alarm is armed in all unoccupied rooms, and if there is a problem there is even emergency lighting to guide you out.

This is Techaus' first property, and it is currently on the market, but the company is also working with two other developers in the South East and one in the South West to build houses with similar features.

Misselbrook says that currently it is only possible to add such features to new houses, as they require high-quality wiring to operate reliably. The company is working on a means to add these extras to older houses, but these will not be ready for another 12-18 months.


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