Tuesday, November 2, 1999 Published at 12:08 GMT
'Wired homes' connect with buyers
Residents will run their homes at the push of a button
A property developer's estate of "internet homes" has sold out - before the houses are even finished.
Residents of the houses on the new Laing estate in Watford, Hertfordshire, will have webcams allowing those inside to view any angle outside the house.
As well as providing extra security, the system sets the alarm system, adjusts the heating and switches off the lights.
All the technical operations are run by three computers. They can be performed remotely, from a portable web pad anywhere in the house or from an internet connection elsewhere.
The coffee machine, for instance, could be switched on in the kitchen from the bedroom - or from the office.
Mike Couzens from Cisco Systems said he believes the take-up for such "smart homes" will eventually be huge.
"I think it's going to be like refrigerators," he said. "Early use was quite low but once people had got used to refrigerators they really couldn't do without them".
However, the fact that internet connection is not yet free in the UK could depress potential take-up.
"I'm sure it will take professional people to put it in, and if it's connected to the internet it's going to be quite costly to run".
However, the popularity of the new estate could mean that a lot of new homes in the UK become equally as well-connected.