Internet house takes you back to the future

A bit of 2001 and a bit of 1984 add up to Cisco's iHome, with all the Internet infrastructure you could want, and maybe even a bit more

Yet another reason not to go out: Cisco and twelve partners in the south of Vienna in Austria have unveiled the first "Internet house", the iHome, which claims to be the first of its kind in the world.

From the outside, the house looks like a quite normal prefabricated building. But on the inside, it is equipped with all the Internet infrastructure you can imagine.

"The house is, as you can see on the Net, for sale. It costs approximately 1.7m schillings (£70,000), and in addition you have to count in about 70,000 schillings (£3,000) for the technical equipment," Nina Hoppe, speaker of Cisco Austria, explained. So all in all, the house costs about £73,000.

According to Hoppe, the house is protected by a firewall, so that only the owner has the right to control it remotely. Similar projects have been carried out by Cisco in Australia, France and Italy, but the Austrian house is the most complete. "Only here you see things working, that are elsewhere still [experimental]," Hoppe told ZDNet. The house does, however, still need some technical upgrading, Hoppe said.

The central nervous system of the building is the server room on the ground floor. There are notebook PCs in the kitchen and in the living room from which everything is controlled: you can send recipes from the internet to the oven, for example, or watch a visitor at your front door and let him in.

A touchscreen on the wall of the living room gives the inhabitants access to all functions of the building. (In the style of Big Brother, the screen has a Webcam mounted over it and images are available on the Net.) A mobile LAN means the occupant can control the house and get Net access via any device he wants -- Web pad, laptop or mobile phone -- from around the house or in the garden.

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