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Microsoft wows Chinese president with "Home of the Future"

Posted by iNext - 2006-04-21

The world's software leader Microsoft impressed China's President Hu Jintao with a tour of its most advanced technological innovations, including the "Home of the Future."
Comfortably and tastefully furnished, the facility in Microsoft's Redmond Campus, just outside Seattle, is a model of the type of high-tech home the company envisions will be used in five to 10 years.

Stepping into the livingroom, Hu was shown a screen which displayed digital photos of a typical family. With the movement of a Chinese vase, the photos changed to ones of places where Hu had lived or worked, including Beijing and Tibet as well as his alma mater Tsinghua University.

Forget photo albums.

"He's very interested in the introduction and briefing by Microsoft people," said Hong Lei, director of information in the Chinese foreign ministry's North America division.

So "fascinated" by what he was shown, the tour took about 15 minutes longer than expected, said Lou Gellos, a Microsoft spokesman.

"He asked questions at every stage of the demonstration," Gellos told reporters later.

One of the stops that interested Hu was the kitchen, where if Hu's wife Liu Yongqing, who accompanied him on the tour, took out a sack of flour from the cupboard, the computer system in the home would immediately beam down suggestions of recipes she could make on the kitchen counter.

And the smart kitchen would remind the Hu household if the flour is used up and not put back in the cupboard to buy another bag on their next shopping trip, not that China's first family would need to cook or do their own shopping.

In the closet, another point of interests for Hu, a seemingly normal mirror immediately displays the day's temperature, whether it would be appropriate to wear a certain item of clothing and suggestions for what to match with it once the owner takes out the piece of clothing.

In the home, Hu thought it was neat that a youngster doing homework on astronomy can immediately get an interactive picture of a certain planet on a large wall screen, showing the immense possibilities of giving students greater access to information.

A former hydraulic engineer, with a photographic memory, Hu has a natural interest in technology.

Gellos said Hu specifically asked to see the futuristic home after his aides took an advance tour of Microsoft and went back to tell him the options.

Stopping at the top of the stairs at the end of the tour, Gellos said Hu told Gates: "Bill Gates is a friend of China and I'm a friend of Microsoft."

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