16 Jan Virginia Tech debuts final phase of FutureHAUS: The bedroom and home office of the future

Virginia Tech will unveil the final phase of FutureHAUS – the revolutionary prototype for the home of the future – with the bedroom and home office at the world’s largest kitchen and bath industry expo, KBIS, January 10 through 12 in Orlando.

Virginia Tech’s FutureHAUS team with the bedroom and home office prototype at KBIS.

Like the three previous prototypes for the kitchen, bath, and living room, the latest phase of FutureHAUS offers a stunning preview of how digital technologies, cutting-edge products, and smart building design will unite to make our bedrooms and home offices more responsive to our future needs and way of living.

Virginia Tech’s student-faculty research team has created rooms that demonstrate how advanced technologies and appliances can be seamlessly integrated in our homes using a modular style of building. The team is led by Joseph Wheeler, professor in the School of Architecture + Design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and co-director of the Center for Design Research, and Denis Gracanin, associate professor in the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science. The prototype features products from over 25 industry partners, including lead sponsor California Closets®, which provided design expertise to maximize function and aesthetics.

The FutureHAUS mixed reality home office.

“With the fourth and final phase of FutureHAUS, Virginia Tech and our industry partners are showing how smart design and technology can solve universal challenges in home building to make homes of the future more efficient, sustainable, and affordable,” Wheeler said. “The concepts modeled in FutureHAUS can be used to build homes that intuitively respond to the needs of everyone from millennials and centennials to the aging and housebound – allowing people to live better and more sustainably.”

A murphy bed behind the computer wall instantly converts the office into a guest bedroom.

Highlights of the FutureHAUS final phase include:

Flex Space

With flex space, you can have less square footage but still have all the space you need, as well as a home offering cost and energy savings. Movable walls enable occupants to adjust living spaces for different activities and times of day. The closet conveniently expands to include a sitting room, dressing room, and laundry room, or contracts to create extra space in the bedroom or office. If an extra guest bedroom is needed, the office wall converts into a Murphy bed with a simple gesture or voice command.

The smart closet showcases wardrobe options on a touchscreen and delivers items on demand. It can expand to a full dressing room or contract to hide the laundry and shelving.

Smart Closet and Wardrobe

A smart mirror touchscreen enables users to quickly find and select items in their wardrobe to be delivered on demand. The dressing room wardrobe has self-opening drawers and an automated closet clothing carousel. Tiny RFID (radio frequency identification) tags in the clothes enable the smart closet and wardrobe to scan and locate items – ensuring you’ll never lose a sock again. Need to know what’s in the laundry? Simply call it up on the smart mirror screen. Custom designed by California Closets, these areas strategically optimize space for enhanced functionality.

Smart Window Wall

The high-performance exterior wall developed with DuPont makes intuitive adjustments throughout the day for energy efficiency and interior comfort. Featuring tintable glass, phase-change technology, and a rainscreen, the smart window wall automatically regulates shading, privacy, and insulation.

Laundry

The laundry room can be easily hidden or exposed by moving the closet space — a convenient feature for minimizing noise and keeping the laundry out of sight. Additional accessories, such as a folding station and ironing board, enhance the function of the space, but tuck away when not in use.

The FutureHAUS bedroom offers an adjustable Tempur-Pedic bed and a canopy screen with endless entertainment options.

Bedroom

In the FutureHAUS bedroom, comfort and utility unite for the ultimate sleep experience. With a voice command, users can change the height and position of their Tempur-Pedic bed, adjust the temperature, sound system, or LED lighting. Above the bed, an overhead canopy screen projects television programs and movies, or soothing sleep scenes like ocean waves, thanks to a projector hidden behind the headboard.

Mixed-Reality Home Office

Telecommuters will enjoy the comforts of home while maintaining a full presence in the workplace with the FutureHAUS home office. The mixed-reality workspace features Microsoft’s HoloLens headset and integrated cameras, blending the virtual and real world. Telecommuters can incorporate 3-D holograms in their visible surroundings to collaborate and create with colleagues anywhere. An adjustable desk on the wall automatically raises and lowers to accommodate ergonomic sitting or standing work positions, and recalls user settings.

The audiovisual wall swivels 180 degrees, allowing technology, entertainment, and art to be shared by adjoining rooms.

Audiovisual Wall

The office audiovisual wall, developed with KB Home, Hanley Wood, Corning, and SnapCab, models endless possibilities for incorporating art, ambience, flex space, and technology. This versatile wall, shared between the office and living room, spins 180 degrees to accommodate the needs of either room. Covered with Corning’s Gorilla Glass, the wall functions as a speaker, television, computer screen, videoconferencing monitor, and dry-erase board on one side. The other side displays scenic photography back-printed on the glass. With technology neatly embedded in walls throughout the home, there’s no visual blight from unsightly electrical cords.

FutureHAUS employs a cartridge construction process, embedding rooms and walls with advanced technology and home systems in a controlled factory setting, to be delivered as plug-and-play components to the constructions site.

Cartridge construction

By prefabricating kitchens, bathrooms, audiovisual walls and other home components, Virginia Tech is reinventing the process of conventional construction. Cartridges are built in a factory environment – similar to the way we build automobiles and airplanes – in ideal conditions for incorporating complex systems. The manufacturing process yields many benefits, including better quality control in an efficient design, faster construction times, guaranteed delivery dates, and construction safety. Cost certainty and high-tech plug-and-play components make an ideal fit for the smart home.

What’s next?
With the addition of the bedroom and home office cartridges, Virginia Tech has completed the full suite of FutureHAUS components. The team plans to erect a four-story FutureHAUS prototype at the university’s Corporate Research Center to serve as a teaching, learning, and demonstration model for the future of smart, sustainable, cartridge-built housing.

The team envisions a multi-story FutureHAUS teaching, learning, demonstration, research and development facility at Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center.

About KBIS

Virginia Tech’s FutureHAUS Bedroom and Home Office is one of four signature KBISNeXT™ Experience sites, which give participants a unique hands-on interaction with the industry’s latest trends and insights. The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show runs jointly with the International Builder’s Show – bringing over 110,000 participants to the Orange County Convention Center for three days of industry-leading products and programs.

About FutureHAUS and Virginia Tech

Uniting the best of research, academia, and industry partners, FutureHAUS demonstrates what the future of housing will be in our fast-evolving digital age. The project has earned international media acclaim and industry awards for its research to make homes more technologically advanced, user-friendly, accessible, adaptable, affordable, energy-efficient, and sustainable.

The team is also led by Clive Vorster, visiting professor of architecture in the School of Architecture + Design, and project manager Bobby Vance, a master’s student in the School of Architecture + Design. Twelve students worked in an interdisciplinary class to research and build the final phase of FutureHAUS and will be in Orlando to showcase their work. Meet the team at http://futurehaus.tech/team/.

Visit FutureHAUS at KBIS Booth S5880. Follow Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies on Facebook or Twitter @VTCAUS. Join the conversation at #vtfuturehaus. For a full list of sponsors, media kit, and more information, visit futurehaus.tech.

Media contact: Marya Barlow, mbarlow@vt.edu