Unsure if the coffee pot is off? Ask it.

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Reader’s Digest has been reporting on life management trends since before most of us were born, so it’s all the more satisfying that the “next big things” roundup in their May issue is not only relevant, but also includes gadgets that we haven’t seen discussed in too many other places. Among them is Intel’s Home Dashboard, a device that communicates with your home appliances and also permits you to control said appliances while away from home via your smart phone or laptop.

It’s worth taking a moment to scan some of the dashboard’s nifty features but there are some particularly cool things worth noting here. For starters, the dash does more than “talk” to your appliances – it manages them. A smart thermostat can adjust the overall heating and cooling in your house (whether you’re there or not) and, according to Intel, adapt “its settings based on the weather conditions, the current energy price and your evolving usage patterns, helping you avoid spikes in cost.” If it actually manages to do that, the other management functions —  including the dash’s ability to anticipate appliance performance problems – are gravy.

The “fun” functions include the aforementioned remote management of the dash, enabling you to toggle on your home security system from the office, say, or toggle off your coffee pot from Aruba. The possible ways to creatively control appliances while away from home are endless.

Reader’s Digest says the dash resembles an oversized iPhone, though a more accurate description might be stately iPad. Interestingly, Intel powers the dash with an Atom processor-based platform, cousin to the better-performing processors found in some netbooks.

A prototype for the dashboard premiered in January 2010, Reader’s Digest notes, and Intel will conduct some pilot programs in selected homes this year.

Image source: Intel

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