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Fit, or fried?

Tech-filled “houses of the future” are usually grotesque but darkly entertaining, and MIT’s new one does not disappoint. Hundreds of sensing components are installed in nearly every part of Live-In Place Lab. The sensors are used to develop ‘innovative user interface applications that help people easily control their environment, save resources, remain mentally and physically active, and stay healthy’. The website says ‘help’ – but the details suggest…compel. Jason Nawyn, for example, is working on the use of so-called persuasive technologies to ‘motivate behavior change’ and (with Pallavi Kaushik) to extend a ‘sensor-driven place and event-based reminders…encouraging a healthy life balance of work, entertainment, eating, etc’. I’m reminded (these houses are all basically the same) of the Electrolux future home I saw a while back: a poster boasted of a smart floor that, when an intruder was detected, ‘turns on the lightning’ (sic). The image of liberal Swedes electrocuting teenage burglars has remained with me ever since. Will MIT apply similar sanctions if I eat too much? Thanks to Institute for the Future for the lead.

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