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High-tech house project enters third year

The Steiner family has lived in their futuristic home for more than two years now Keystone

A Swiss family who gave up their normal life to become high-tech guinea pigs have celebrated their second anniversary in the "Internet" house.

This content was published on January 16, 2003 - 18:17

The project dubbed "FutureLife" was launched in October 2000 with the aim of showing what life in a fully automated household could be like.

The organisers say it has been a huge success.

Daniel Steiner, his wife Ursi and their two adopted children, Grace and Carlo, were selected to move into the Internet house, where aspects of everyday life are conducted online by mobile phone or on the Internet.

The showcase house in the village of Hünenberg in canton Zug is a project developed by Otto Beisheim, the founder of the German retail chain Metro, together with other partners including the United States software company, Cisco, and the German electronics firm, Siemens.

Daniel Steiner, an IT specialist, is enjoying his new lifestyle and sees the project as an important way of finding out what technology could be helpful in a modern household.

"Today there is a lot of technology available but not everything is helpful. We are trying to see what is really helpful. A lot of appliances in our house are not really new, however the connection between them is new," Steiner told swissinfo.

Few glitches

Among other things, the latest gadgets in the house include a scanner that checks the family's fingerprints when they enter the house, and a high-tech fridge, which orders items such as bread, cheese and milk at the local supermarket.

Even though the fridge sometimes struggles to keep up with the management of its contents - this usually happens when the family forgets to enter the use-by-dates of the goods - there have been very few glitches in the life of the high-tech family.

"We haven't had a lot of technical problems as all the systems are pretty reliable. And even if the whole system breaks down, we'll still have the opportunity to use all the appliances in a normal way," Steiner said.

Two or three times per week the family opens its three-storey house to the public, and even though the novelty of the project is over, public interest is still enormous.

Great success

According to Jürg Kallay, FutureLife's project leader, the house has been a great success, surpassing all expectations.

"Our project has been unusually successful as we have received recognition for being the first one in Europe," he said.

Kallay is very proud of the fact that this project, which started in the sleepy village of Hünenberg, is now a trendsetter for many other such projects.

"Hünenberg is from a technological point of view in the middle of nowhere and the fact that it is showing possibilities of future living in reality is quite an achievement," he said.

The Steiners will stay on in the house until the autumn. Until then they will continue using their real home as a holiday house.

swissinfo, Billi Bierling and Jacob Greber

Key facts

The Internet house was launched in October 2001 in Hünenberg, canton Zug.
The Steiner family has lived there for two years.
The house is equipped with a full range of high-tech products, such as a self-stocking fridge.

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