Where will all the digitalisation of the home lead to? Years ago, specialists in technology were talking about everything being 'connected'. Our fridges would be connected to the internet, as would just about everything else in the home. All this would make it almost unnecessary to order anything - it would be done automatically for us. The fridge would sense we only had six beers left so it would 'automatically' order a few more. For some of us, this sounds almost too good to be true. Michael MacMillan, managing director of Vizualize, a Hong Kong-based company that specialises in hi-tech solutions for commercial properties, previously had a great deal of experience in the early days of technological solutions for the home. He worked for EnergyAustralia and many other companies that were looking at ways of providing services to the home. 'We looked at providing rental deals for home automation and providing internet services over the power lines. This type of technology is only now possible, but 20 years ago it was a very revolutionary idea,' he said. They looked at all kinds of home automation ideas including controlling air conditioning, hot water and especially lighting. They thought they could merge it all with the then-emerging solar technology. The penalty one paid for being too far ahead of your time, he said, was that being too soon meant nobody listened to you. Mr MacMillan believes utility companies will increasingly move into this area in the future. 'I think you will see a further emergence of the likes of PCCW and CLP providing technology and services as a billable feature,' he said. 'You will be provided with a range of appliances and services, stereos with music downloads or play-on-demand options to your iPhone for example. Refrigerators, pantry items or shopping lists automatically refilled via an internet order are now conceivable.' To some extent, PCCW, with its NowTV, almost does this today but it is not quite as automated as Mr MacMillan believes it could be. 'I do see the home getting more intelligent,' he said. 'Given the way computational power is dropping in price and sensory devices are growing in their ability to simplify our interaction in the home, this will increase.' It is already possible, according to Mr MacMillan, to have the lighting in a room switch itself on or off if somebody enters. This only costs a few dollars. The really interesting aspect of this comes when the room actually 'recognises' the person entering. This was also now possible, he said, although perhaps too expensive for most. Mr MacMillan's company sells systems that can recognise faces, so, he said, if such a system was hooked up to a home, it could easily control the lighting, music and temperature of a room depending on who entered. Researchers at Cambridge University are doing interesting things with 'mood recognition'. This means that in the not-too-distant future, a house could conceivably recognise your mood, and change the ambience of the room if it would be more suitable. Mr MacMillan said this kind of technology was not cheap today, but it could be in a short time. History would certainly be on his side. A generation ago, some people thought the personal computer market might manage to sell a mere four of five computers. They are in the hundreds of millions today. With an emphasis on the environment, it is only a matter of time that homes will become 'smarter' in the near future.