We've long been fascinated by the idea of the house of the future. In 1956, MIT researchers tested plastic homes -- it'd be a cinch to hose them clean, wouldn't it? -- while Goodyear researchers worked on air-bubble domiciles a few decades later [source: Ngo]. Neither one panned out, of course. But the concept of the "house of the future" wasn't just structural. It also encompassed all of the new technology that would lie inside: video chatting instead of rotary-dial phones, robots to do our housework, and a few buttons we could push to control just about everything.
Alas, our homes still aren't the technological wonders we'd dreamed about. But we certainly have made some advances. Think of amenities like central vacuum, in-home stereo and programmable thermostats. Not sexy enough? Then read about five truly exciting home technologies that are either available now or in development, meaning they all have a real chance of becoming commonplace.