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5 APPLICATION TO SPECIFIC SCENARIOS: HOME electricity and can be connected to each other, as
AND LEISURE well as to a central server located in the house. The
home's inhabitants can then control these devices
either online or with the help of a hand-held
WHAT ARE SMART HOMES? remote control device.

In smart homes the devices in your household are Did you forget to turn off the oven before you left
connected to each other over networks. The the house? Simply log into the system and check via
devices can communicate with each other and with the Internet. It is also possible for the devices to
the homes' inhabitants. The user is able to control switch themselves on and off depending on the
various household devices, such as the window current environmental conditions. For example,
shutters, lighting and heating system, via a remote- the heating system will turn itself on automatically
controlled device or a computer. Some smart only if there is someone in the house and if the
homes may even control these aspects room temperature drops below a specified level.
automatically, such as light sensors which detect
In the future, smart homes may see an additional
the amount of light entering the room and switch
boost - the “Internet of things” This is a wireless
on the lights accordingly. Not only can smart homes
network over which household objects can
increase the convenience for their inhabitants,
communicate, where each object has an identifying
they also may offer help for disabled people who
RFID chip. For example, a flower pot may contain a
are not capable of operating such household
chip that continually measures its soil's moisture.
devices on their own. Smart homes may also
When the moisture drops below a specified level,
increase security. Security systems intelligently
the chip will send a signal to a central server to
detect intruders and respond accordingly with an
remind the home's inhabitants to water the plant.
Even humans can be tagged with a chip located
The possible benefits of smart homes may include:
inside their clothing or shoes. The home is then
Convenience: Smart homes may increase the
able to know where the inhabitants are located
convenience for the user. For example, the coffee
inside the home and can automatically control the
machine will turn itself on automatically each
home's lighting, heating or air conditioning
morning; parents can program videos the children
are allowed to watch at specific times; and home
entertainment centres are able to play specified Another example is intelligent refrigerators. These
music and videos on all television screens in the refrigerators can track the food that it contains.
home. Every object that is placed into the refrigerator is
tagged with an invisible chip. The refrigerator
Security: Smart security systems grant access to the
tracks these object and displays a list of food items
home only to authorized people.
on the refrigerator door. The refrigerator will also
Energy saving: Intelligent heating systems and light warn the user if food has been stored in the
control' can help reduce energy costs. refrigerator for too long and may have become
Make a list of all the electrical and electronic
equipment that can be found in your home, such as One objective is to integrate technology into
the refrigerator, the coffee machine and toaster. Of everyday objects in such a way that the technology
course, you must not forget the compute¡ the itself is hidden from users. Ubiquitous computing
television set, radios and lighting. Some homes (also known as pervasive computing or everywhere
may also have camera systems installed and doors computing) incorporates small, inexpensive
that open electronically. All of these devices use devices into everyday objects. Smart homes should
not look like places out of science fiction movies.
Rather, they should use intuitive and nature Technical failure: The more complex the devices,
interfaces. the higher the chance of technical failure.

Let's consider the previous example of the flower Stress: In order to keep the smart home
pot. One A could design a flower pot with a digital functioning, the user must maintain and manage
display indicating the soil's moisture level. In this the devices. An intelligent coffee machine will be
case, the output device (the LCD display) would able to automatically make coffee for breakfast
spoil the design of the pot and look very only if it contains sufficient water and coffee. These
“technical”. Ubiquitous computing tries to things have to be prepared in advance. It may also
eliminate unnatural interfaces by replacing them be necessary to program the machine. Devices that
with more natural ones. For example, the flower are not connected to an electrical power source
pot could play a simple melody each time the user need to be supplied with batteries, which must be
approaches the flower pot to remind them that the recharged periodically. Intelligent machines may
plant needs watering. therefore not always make life easier for the

Possible disadvantage of smart homes include: Do smart homes really reduce the everyday
workload of its inhabitants or does technology
Electronic waste: The rapid progress of hardware
because more stress? The display screen on the
and software technology may require users to
refrigerator may remind the inhabitant that certain
periodically replace the components of a smart
food products need to be replaced. Is this really
home, resulting in an accumulation of electronic
supporting the person or is this a cause of
waste. Replaced batteries may also accumulate in
unnecessary stress? Why is it that at a time when
large quantities and need to be recycled.
technology assists us in accomplishing everyday
Electrosmog: The devices connected to a home tasks, more and more people complain of having
network communicate using wireless technology. 'not enough time’?
This increases electrosmog.
TOK stimulus: Predicting the future of technology?
Privacy: The hone server controlling the devices of
Predicting the future of technological progress can
the smart home can reveal much about the
be quite difficult. Sixty years ago, visionaries
inhabitants' lifestyle. The server may store data on
predicted that by the year 2000 humanoid
the products bought (i.e. data from the smart
household robots would assist women in doing
refrigerator), the times at which the inhabitants
everyday household work such as washing and
entered and left the house, security)' camera
cooking. Sixty years later we can see that
recordings, and entertainment preferences from
technological developments have not kept up with
the home media station. The home is one of the
such expectations. The visionaries seemed to have
most intimate personal places that humans have. If
overlooked the social changes that have occurred
the server's security is compromised, then this
in many countries. Fixed gender roles and
private place may be opened to the public.
responsibilities, such as women staying at home
Security: In the past, criminals had to use brute and taking care of domestic duties while men are
force techniques to enter a house. Now it may be the breadwinners, are much less rigid in some of
possible to trick electronically controlled security today’s societies. Furthermore, the enormous
devices by cracking a code. Even fingerprint impact of the Internet and mobile technology
scanners are not totally secure and can be fooled (which has certainly shaped our everyday life more
by placing a layer of artificial skin with someone than any household robot would have) was not
else’s fingerprint over one's owns thumbs. foreseen at all.
How did the visionaries get it so wrong? In many Chip card access: A chip card can be used to grant
cases, when people predict future developments, access to different parts of the building. The card
they are basing their prediction on current contains an RFID chip, which communicates
technology. As the I 950s was the period of the wirelessly with a chip card reader. The user holds
start of the space race between the super powers que chip card next to the reader to open the door
USA and the then USSR, this may have contributed
Monitoring of movement: The chip card readers
to the 'Golden Age of Science Fiction', during which
are connected to a central server. This server
robots started to play a significant role.
records which chip card was used to open the
HOW DOES THE FUTURE OF THE HOME LOOK? doors, making it possible to track people's
movements inside the building. This can be
Will increased miniaturization and the Internet of
important particularly in offices in which valuable
Things really become as popular as expected? Or
or confidential material is stored. If some of the
will another new, but yet un-known, technology
material is stolen, then it is easier to track down
influence our everyday life more than we can
who was in a particular room and when.
imagine now?
Fingerprint scanning door handles: These are also
known as biometric door lock. A fingerprint
Intelligent homes may help save money by scanner on the door handle (or beside the door)
intelligently controlling the home's lighting system reads the individual's fingerprint. If the fingerprint
and help to increase security. matches the fingerprint stored in the database,
then the door will open. Nevertheless, fingerprint
Raising and lowering of shutters: Light sensors can scanners can be easily tricked using artificial skin
assess the amount of light entering the rooms of placed on top of one's thumbs; hence, this system
the house. The lights are switched on when the may not be as secure as previously thought.
amount of light drops below a specified level, with
the lights being switched on only in those rooms Video monitoring: Video cameras can be
that are currently occupied. In addition, advanced connected to the central server of a smart home,
systems may use external moving mirrors that making it possible to monitor and control the video
reflect sunlight through the house's windows. cameras over the Internet. Such a system allows a
These mirrors are adjusted based on the position of holidaying home owner to check regularly that
the Sun. everything is in order at home.

Control of lights for security: The lights of the home FOR DICCUSION
can be controlled over the network, giving the
If not properly designed a smart home can
impression that the home is occupied even when
compromise the privacy of its inhabitants and
the inhabitants are away, hopefully deterring
visitor. What measures would you employ to
burglars. Although a simple timer switch can be
ensure that privacy is maintained?
used to turn the lights on and off, more flexibility
can be obtained by manually controlling the WHAT ARE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRES?
lighting over a network. The home owner may also
Home entertainment centres (or media centres)
use a camera system to check that the house is in
are computer systems or software solutions that
are designed to store and play music and videos. It
WHAT ARE POSSIBLE SECURITY MECHANISMS? is also possible to store and display digital
photographs. The media centre is connected to the
Homes and offices can be equipped to improve
TV screen, allowing the user to select and play
security. As described below, this can be achieved
music and video files by operating a remote
in several ways.
control. Some notebook computers are designed
with the purpose of a media centre in mind. These
systems use media centre software that runs on a Ability to ¡record radio and TV shows: An
standard operating system. Depending on the integrated TV and radio receiver allows users to
model and brand, entertainment centres may record television and radio programmes.
contain any of the following features.

Playing and burning CD-ROMs and DVDs: The

media stored on the hard disk can be burned on a
CD-ROM or DVD for playback on audio CD User interface of entertainment centres are simple
recorders or DVD players. Many DVDs and CD- and easy to use.
ROMS are copy protected, meaning that discs
cannot be copied to the hard disk of the media
centre and can only be played directly from the SOCIAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES RELATED TO SMART
optical drive. HOMES
Card readers: This makes it possible to view digital Reliability and integrity
images and videos stored on a memory card.
. What are some reliability issues associated with
Support for a large number of media formats: The home networks and smart homes? What are the
entertainment centres operating system can possible consequences should such systems fail?
handle a wide range of different media file formats,
increasing the convenience for users. . When it comes to identifying its inhabitants, how
reliable is a home security system's biometric
Network connectivity: Internet connectivity makes system?
it possible to stream audio and video content.
Remote controls: Instead of a keyboard and mouse,
the user can operate the media centre using an Although some security systems can improve the
infrared remote control' safety of the home's inhabitants, how can such
systems also make them more vulnerable?
Docking stations for audio players: Some
entertainment centres may contain a docking Intellectual property
station for portable MP3 audio players. This Does the wide use of home entertainment centres
feature makes it possible to play media content lead to a rise in the amount of downloads over file-
stored on these players. sharing sites?
Large hard disk for storage: Media files are stored The digital divide and equality of access
on an integrated hard disk. The hard disk is also
used for recording radio and TV shows. How can home networks assist people with
disabilities and improve their accessibility and
Elegant design: As entertainment centres should fit independence around the home?
in well with the living room's design, they should be
designed in an appropriate and functional manner. People and machines
Entertainment centres are connected directly to
To what extent can home security systems give its
the TV screen, which serves as an interface.
inhabitants a false sense of security?
Simple to use operating systems: Media centres
Is increased use of technology in the home a
often use operating systems that are limited to the
cause for additional stress?
most basic functionality of selecting and playing of
media files, thus simplifying the media centre’s use. Do lT-based security systems (e.g. biometrics,
video monitoring systems etc.) automatically
improve the home's security?
Digital citizen ship Today, people must ask themselves how much of a
historical photograph or film is actually original and
Home networks and intelligent homes may lead to
how much of it has been modified.
an increase in e-waste.
Advancements in computer graphics technology
also make it possible to now create films in which
The use of computers in the film industry is the actors are entirely computer generated. The
nothing new Already in 1977 computers were used animated 2001 science fiction movie Final Fantasy
to control the camera systems when filming the was one of the first productions in which digital
space battles of the Star Wars series, as controlling actors replaced real humans in a surprisingly
the cameras by hand would have taken too long realistic manner.
and would not have resulted in the desired effects.
The movement of digital actors still poses a
During the 1980s and early 1990s, computers were
challenge and it may be necessary to digitize the
increasingly used to replace actors, and here we
movements of real people in order to animate the
are not simply talking about computer animated
digital actors. Furthermore, it is necessary to use
films or cartoons. In the 1991 film Terminator 2, the
the voice of real actors for synchronization
face of a real actor was placed on top of a
computer-animated model of a robot made of WHAT IS AUDIENCE MONITORING?
liquid metal. This robot could change shape, with
Broadcasting corporations earn money by airing
astonishing and surprisingly real results - a
advertisements between shows. The more people
breakthrough in special effects. But, of course, this
that watch a particular television show, the higher
was all fantasy and the audience was clearly aware
the value-of the advertisement slot since, after all,
that robots made of liquid metal do not exist in real
more people will be watching the advertisement.
life. The computer graphics background was simply
Therefore, it is in the interest of the broadcasting
too obvious to cause any real concern.
corporation to determine how many people
The demarcation between reality and special actually watch a particular television programme.
effects became blurred in the 1994 film Forrest
Audience-monitoring systems are hardware
Gump, starring Tom Hanks. Although this film also
devices that are connected to the television set.
used computer-based special effects, it did so in a
The device records the channels watched by users
substantially more subtle way. The producers of
and for how long. These devices provide essential
the film used real historical film footage and
statistics to the broadcasting corporations about
digitized them. They then copied the modern actor
viewers’ behaviour.
into the old film, replacing the original people of
the film. In the final product, viewers could see WHAT IS DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT?
Forrest Gump (i.e. Torn Hanks) shake hands with
US President Lyndon Johnson, who died in 1973. The term digital entertainment is a blanket term
The film Forrest Gump was proof that, yes, it is that includes all forms of entertainment that can be
possible to modify and change historical accessed over an IT system (such as a computer).
documents, even films, in such a way that it is very The various forms are listed below.
difficult to detect the forgery. Furthermore, closely Gaming: This includes playing computer games
watch the first few minutes of the film. You will see either alone or interactively with other people over
a fluffy bird's feather dancing in the wind, network.
accompanied by nice piano music. I think you have
already guessed that the feather is not real; it was Online gambling: Users can play against other
designed on the computer and is computer people over Web services, for money. Online
animated. gambling sites may be blocked by some countries.
In order to participate, the user must be in Dependence on digital technology: Digital
possession of a credit card, which also is a means entertainment requires the use of IT equipment
of verifying the user’s age. and software.

Social networking: People form interest groups FOR DISUSSION

around specific topics and communicate with each
Despite the advantage of digital entertainment,
why do many people still watch live
Virtual worlds: These are 3D computer-generated entertainment? What does live entertainment
worlds in which players can interact with other offer that digital entertainment doesn’t?
people. Virtual worlds can be seen as a form of
social networking.
Print (text) media: This includes electronic books
The content of digital entertainment is frequently
(i.e. e-books) or material published on the Web.
criticized for having content that is inappropriate or
Music and podcasts: The user downloads and dangerous for children and others. This includes
listens to music, news and MP3 files that are violent computer games with a high degree of
produced specifically for certain interest groups. realism, racist and sexist material, and
There is much legal and free material available on pornographic material viewable directly over the
the Web. internet and as a component of computer games.

Movies: This includes rented or bought DVDs that It is necessary to control the access of this type of
can be watched. Even when a compute¡ is not used content to children and other groups. Pornography
to watch a DVD, it still counts as digital is easily accessible over the Internet and it is
entertainment. difficult to check the age of the users accessing
these pages. The laws regulating pornography are
(Online) television: The user views pre-recorded TV
different for each country. Material published on a
shows on demand. The show is started whenever
web server in one country may not be legal in
the user wishes to view the programme.
another country. In order to control this type of
HOW IS DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT DIFFERENT material, it is necessary to make worldwide laws,
FROM LIVE ENTERTAINMENT? which is unrealistic.

Digital entertainment is different from live Some computer games, such as the so-called 'ego
entertainment in the following ways. shooters', may possess highly violent content.
Sound and graphics further increases the realism of
It is on demand: The user decides independently these games. The same technology that game
when to consume the entertainment. Live players use nowadays is also used by the military to
entertainment (such as the cinema) is bound to a train soldiers for combat. People who spend many
certain schedule. hours playing these games train themselves to
Higher degree of interactivity: The user has more shoot at anything that moves so that shooting
freedom when it comes to interrupting the starts to become a reflex-like activity - shoot first,
performance and continuing to watch it when they think later
Increased choice: The user is not bound to the Programmers have develops software that enable
schedule provided by the broadcasting corporation computers to compose music and paint paintings.
or theatre. At the push of a button, the computer will draw a
new picture or compose a new song. Each song or
drawing is completely unique and has never existed
before. The software programmer has internal electronics are based on a personal
programmed only general guidelines regarding computer but with powerful graphics processing
musical harmony and picture composition. Certain capability.
notes and colours simply don't go together.
Cellular telephones/mobile phones: The display of
Although the limits of what is considered “good
the mobile phone may be large enough for simple
art” are predetermined, the actual artwork it-self is
computer games. Smart phones possess a larger
generated by the computer. The computer will
display and are therefore able to show graphics of
then generate random melodies and images based
a higher resolution and with more realism.
on these guidelines, with each work different from
the ones before - each piece is unique. GPS navigation systems: Some GPS navigation
systems include an MP3 music player and simple
If each picture or music piece is unique, can a
computer games.
computer be considered creative?
Calculators: Some users are able to program (or
Can computer-generated pieces be considered art
download) simple games into their graphics
in the first place or is art (by definition) limited to
Social and ethical issues related to digital
A computer draws random lines on the screen. Is
this art? A human artist draws random lines on the
canvas. Is this art? Visit the site Reliability and integrity. to generate some
computer art. To what extent can a computer be Digital processing of films and photographs can be
considered creative? abused to create a false representation of reality.
Should videos and photographs still be allowed as
Does the painting (made by a human or by a valid evidence in court trials?
computer) have to look nice to be considered art?
Intellectual property.
The downloading and distribution of digital media
Computer games are now included on many for which a person is n o t authorized is a violation
consumer products, having been made possible by of intellectual property rights. In what ways has
the comparatively high computation power of digital entertainment made the (illegal) exchange
these devices. of media files simpler?
Personal compute¡: Games have been offered for The digital divide and equality of access.
personal computers since their inception. Many
early computers did not possess strong graphics Computer users in developing countries often can’t
capabilities. Text adventure games in which the afford the high prices of digital music, films and
use¡ reads a story and then controls the character's other content. Does this justify the (illegal)
actions by typing commands were popular during download and distribution of digital content in
the early days of computing. these countries?

Hand-held video game systems: These devices People and machines.

began to emerge in the 1980s. They had LCD What are the consequences of actors being
screens and were powered by a small battery. replaced by their digital counterparts?
More recent hand-held video game systems
include colour display and substantially more
complex graphics.

Video game console: These are dedicated

computers designed for gaming. Sometimes the