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August 18, 2008

My Experience at the Innoventions Dream Home at Disneyland

Last Monday, HP invited me to visit the Innoventions Dream Home in Disneyland down in Anaheim, California – which opened this summer.

Welcome to Tomorrowland Innoventions!

The Innoventions Dream Home sits inside Disneyland’s Tomorrowland and uses Windows Media Center in Windows Vista – along with hardware from HP and others – to combine technology available today with technology we might see in our future.  Other partners such as Life|ware (more about Life|ware below), Honda, Siemens, St. Joseph Hospital, and Taylor Morrison also showcase technology at the Innoventions Dream Home providing a very rich experience to Disneyland visitors. 

Outside the Innoventions Dream Home Exterior of the Innoventions Dream Home House of the Future Banner

When I arrived to the Innoventions Dream Home, I discovered that the building was actually rotating. Yes – rotating. Ok so not the entire building. The building actually has an outer “ring” that rotates while the inner area of the building remains stationary – like a carousel. The walkway near the entrance is actually called “360 Tomorrowland Way” referencing the building’s unique feature. I thought it was a very interesting “introduction” to the Innoventions Dream Home in preparation for what’s inside…

Once inside the Innoventions Dream Home, I discovered that the Innoventions Dream Home consisted of different rooms of a “fictional family” (called “The Elias Family”) such as the living room, kitchen, a brother’s room, a sister’s room, and a home office (or den). Disney has “fictional” family members wearing yellow soccer jerseys in which visitors can follow through the Innoventions Dream Home and will remain in character as a specific member of the family talking about their home.  The idea here is that visitors are exposed to how families can use this technology within their homes to improve their lives – or become more efficient with specific tasks.

I shot some video of those “fictional” family members doing some of the demos (to get the full experience – you’ll have to visit the Innoventions Dream Home yourself  J ) in each of the rooms and the technology within them. See how Windows Vista and Microsoft Surface along with hardware from HP and others can be combined to create some awesome experiences:

Video: Innoventions Dream Home

Sorry about the lighting. It was kind of dark inside the home and I didn’t want to blind folks with my Canon HV20’s light. Did you catch the Sidebar Gadgets running on the “Magic Mirror”? The Magic Mirror has a camera that points at you creating the affect of being a mirror. And in the den, did you see the 100″ glass projection screen? This is perfect for watching HD content in Windows Media Center.

100" Glass Projection TV

As I mentioned above – the technology I saw was a mix of technology available today such as Windows Vista and HP’s TouchSmart PC along with technology not yet on the market. Part of the excitement is that visitors can actually see some of this cool stuff on the market today and in stores.

Much of what I saw (and what you saw in the video) was connected together using Windows Media Center. Each room had a special panel that was running Life|ware software on Windows Media Center. These panels were used to adjust settings within the room per user. Each “pretend” family member had a profile of settings that can be set from these panels. When a family member enters the room, they use these panels to adjust the settings such as lighting and images in digital picture frames.

Life|ware on Windows Media Center

Home automation using Windows Media Center? Absolutely! As you can see in the above shot – the ability of home automation is given to Windows Media Center by Life|ware. This level of home automation is actually quite doable today!  Read Life|ware’s whitepaper of home automation and Windows Media Center for more information here.

To make all the cool stuff work in the Innoventions Dream Home – you need some pretty cool hardware. That’s where HP steps in.

HP MediaSmart Connect at the Innoventions Dream Home HP MediaSmart TV at the Innoventions Dream Home

To extend the Windows Media Center experience throughout the Innoventions Dream Home – Xbox 360’s were used of course but HP also deployed its Extender for Windows Media Center device the HP MediaSmart Connect. You can read my comprehensive look at the HP MediaSmart Connect from a few weeks ago here. I also found HP MediaSmart TVs around the Innoventions Dream Home with Extender for Windows Media Center capabilities built in!

Visitors were also treated to HP TouchSmart PCs placed all over the Innoventions Dream Home. The HP TouchSmart PC boasts some impressive touch capabilities.

The HP TouchSmart PC (1st Generation)

There is actually quite a bit to talk about in regards to my experience with the HP TouchSmart PCs from the Innoventions Dream Home. Because of that – I’ve decided to publish a separate follow-up post later this week discussing my experience with the HP TouchSmart PCs. But to summarize – HP has done a fantastic job bringing touch features to the consumer via the HP TouchSmart PC and they just released the 2nd generation HP TouchSmart PC which is available at retail today. HP plans to completely exchange the remaining 1st generation HP TouchSmart PCs at the Innoventions Dream Home today with the new 2nd generation HP TouchSmart PCs.

For a more comprehensive look at the HP technology at the Innoventions Dream Home – click here.

I was joined by fellow bloggers and community members Mike Garcen from Missing Remote and Michael Reyes from You can read Mike’s 9 page post on his experience at the Innoventions Dream Home here at Missing Remote (with lots of pictures!). And you can read Michael’s post on his experience here at Both are definitely worth the read so check them out.

If you’re heading down to Disneyland, definitely check out the Innoventions Dream Home. It is a perfect place to see what technology today can do and what technology of tomorrow might do. Oh and ask for the “fictional” family member named Neil – he was awesome (not sure if that’s his real name though).