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Billionaire seeks Internet family

Possible pets for the chosen family?

(Keystone)

A German billionaire has built a 'house of the future' near Switzerland's Lake Lucerne and is now looking for a family prepared to live in it for three years.

Amongst the high-tech applications awaiting the chosen family are a fridge that orders its own food, and a toilet which checks human waste for potential diseases. The family will also have to prepare for celebrity status, with their everyday life broadcast on the Internet five days a week.

The family must consist of a couple aged between 35 and 45, with two children aged around ten years old. Despite the age specifications and the daunting requirements of Internet fame, four families had already applied within hours of the offer being made.

Otto Beisheim, the billionaire behind the project, has denied any similarities between his scheme and the controversial German television programme, Big Brother.

In that show, contestants were kept in a house for 100 days, with all their activities televised or shown on the Internet. Critics argued that the programme offered little more than cheap voyeurism, and exploited the inhabitants.

"One half of the house will be free of cameras," Beisheim insists, "and the family members could go to that half whenever they don't want to be filmed."

He argues that the idea has nothing to do with voyeurism. Rather, he says, the aim is to reinforce public confidence in the future and to prepare people for future technology by placing it in an everyday setting.

At 76 years of age, Beisheim is certainly no child of the Internet generation himself. But the founder of the Metro retail company says he is fascinated by new technology.

One of the richest individuals in Switzerland, Beisheim says he will receive no financial profit from the futuristic project, even if Swiss television decides to climb on board.

swissinfo with agencies

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