Technology has had a huge impact on our home life over the last six decades.

Household spending has doubled in the UK over 60 years and more of this has been spent on technology, such as games consoles, flat-screen TVs, tablets and phones.

At first technology was there to help with household chores, giving us more free time, but as time went on, tech and gadgets became a part of this leisure time.

Back in time for the weekend - future

In the BBC TV series Back in Time for the Weekend, a modern family spent a week living with technology and gadgets from the past 60 years, experiencing the 1960s, 1970s,  1980s and 1990s.

In the last episode of the series, the family experiences the type of technology we might be using in the future. Stream or download the episode from BBC iPlayer (which is also available to watch through BT TV).

Here are some predictions for the types of technology we might be using:

Smart home

Empty shelves in house

The home of the future may be less about physical objects and more about experiences. Instead of shelves full of books and DVDs, everything will be digital, so we’ll be using e-books and streaming movies over our internet connection in the cloud.

We’re starting to see this now, with devices such as the Amazon Kindle and e-reader apps, and streaming services like BT TV and Netflix.

At the moment, most houses mix the digital and the physical. In the future, the physical may disappear altogether, and we may own few physical things.

Photo credit: BBC


Panasonic transparent TV

As the BBC series showed, one constant in households over the last 50 years has been the television.

From a black and white TV, to colour, to CRT (cathode ray tube), to multiple sets, flat-screens and TV on demand, television technology has developed - but it’s still central to most households.

We don’t just watch the latest programmes, a TV set has become more of an entertainment centre for playing games, streaming movies (as cinema audiences decline), looking at photos and even browsing the web.

At the time of writing, TV audiences are declining - 90% of adults watch TV each week, a drop from 93% in 2013, according to Ofcom. The audience is still huge, but people are perhaps turning to tablets and smartphones to watch. Certainly TV watching has branched out of the living room.

In the future, television might not be static – a screen could be pulled down from the ceiling. LG created an OLED roll-up TV, while Panasonic has developed transparent television (above). The TV set could be integrated more into the décor of the room, rather than just as an object.

[Related story: Breakthroughs in TV technology that have changed the way we watch]

Household cleaning

In the 1950s the average housewife cleaned for 70 hours a week.  As time went on and household gadgets got cheaper, the hours reduced thanks to labour-saving devices like a washing machine, vacuum cleaner and dishwasher.

In the future, the time spent on household chores may decrease further as we rely on robots.

In the early 2000s the first robot vacuum cleaners hit the market. These disc-shaped devices move around using sensors to map the room and the location of objects so they can adjust their cleaning patterns accordingly.

Check out the video below to see the iRobot Roomba 880 (£529) in action.

The Bosch Indego Robotic Lawnmower (£1,070) is a robot that cuts grass, the iRobot Looj 300 (£179.99) cleans gutters and the Wimbot W730 (£189) spruces up windows.

At the moment, robot cleaners are significantly more expensive than conventional vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers and a spray and elbow grease for cleaning windows, so like coloured television in the 1960s they are still a luxury item. If prices fall, this will change in the future, and robots will be in more homes.


3D printer and printed things

Today we may be more likely to replace a broken piece of furniture than fix it. But over the last few years there’s been a move towards upcycling – improving what you already have by recycling.

In the home of the future, DIY isn’t going to disappear altogether, but may use technology in new ways.

3D printing - a process of printing using plastic filament to build up layers and create an object following a 3D computer pattern - will become more common. 3D printing is being used in the medical world, but we could use it to print replacement DIY parts such as hinges at home.

3D printing prices are falling, so in the future it will be affordable to more people.

In 2013 Maplin became the first high-street retailer to sell a 3D printer, the Velleman K8200 for £700. The same device now costs £399.99 and an entry-level device like the XYZ Printing da Vinci Junior 3D Printer costs £299.99


There’s more awareness of the importance of physical fitness, with numerous gadgets such as fitness bands and apps to help you monitor your fitness and make changes.

A new trend is ‘Immersive Fitness’. Based in a studio, the participants face a big screen on to which a video is projected.

The exercise could be cycling, and you could be on a static bike, riding up virtual hills, down valleys and into the sunset.

The idea is to create a more exciting experience. You feel like you are there and you push yourself further and forget your real surroundings.

Immersive Fitness – cycling in particular - is safer than road cycling, particularly in a city, although cycling in a virtual environment isn’t the same as being in the great outdoors.

Outdoor games


Remote-controlled cars have been popular for decades.

The latest trend is for drones, smartphone-controlled aerial devices. What makes them different from previous remote-controlled devices is their range – some have a range of 50-100m with around 15-30 minutes flying time per charge.

Drones have had some bad press, partially due to their military connections and because they can be dangerous - the spinning propellers can hurt people, and some people have even flown them close to airports.

Check out six of the best drones that won’t break the bank.

So-called hoverboards, two-wheeled skateboard/scooter combo devices like the Swagway, are also popular, although in December safety concerns led Amazon to stop selling them.

Once the legalities of safe flying and hoverboards are sorted out, could these be the devices that get kids playing outside again?

What do you think the home of the future will be like? Do you think changes will be for the better? Let us know in the Comments section below.