Futurists insist that one day your refrigerator will talk to your PC. I have a recurring dream in which my dog learns to talk. So far, little progress has been made on either front. But home networks are taking off. As is often the case, the killer application is so obvious most futurists missed it: sharing high-speed Internet access.
Once homes are equipped with access-sharing networks, applications that sounded futuristic become eminently practical. Your pooch may never recite poetry, but with a $60 Webcam you can look in on your favorite canine from the office. And with a $99 wireless transceiver, you can pump Internet radio from your PC to your sound system.
Networks will extend the Web's tentacles to every nook and cranny of the home. In some applications, home networks will reach out to the 'Net for videos, music and e-books. In others, remote services will look in on the home to monitor security, diagnose appliance problems and turn off lawn sprinklers when it
This story, "Small networks: The next big thing " was originally published by Network World.