I've been reading a lot recently about aging-in-place remodeling, and new trends in this area. Robotics keep coming up as a way to allow people to live independantly in their homes in the future. While the technology is still fairly new and its emergence in the common home may be a ways off, it is an exciting field with a lot of possibilities.
Panasonic has created a prototype of a bed that can morph into a wheelchair upon voice command (the converted chair looks something like a first-class airplane seat). Other advancements involve actual robots to help with reminding people to take medication, using their limbs after a stroke to boost physical therapy, or increase exercise and fitness.
We are all familiar with the Wii Fit, which recognizes and rates movements, and the Roomba, which senses walls and other obstacles to clean floors - expect more advances to robotic in-home support. An article called "Robots that Care" talks about research done by a former MIT student - it really is amazing to see the level of care these robots may be able to provide someday for the disabled, even learning a person's personality and adjusting the robot's demeanor accordingly.
These are only a couple of examples of the large amount of technological advances being made in this area. Will every home have a robot someday like the lovable Rosie on the Jetson's? Maybe not anytime soon! And there are many arguments against so-called "social robots" and the effects on human relationships. However, there are many instances where robotics and automation are becoming more common. When remodeling, we can take into account things that may make new technology work with our existing homes and allow us to remain living independantly. Wider halls and doorways, low thresholds, wiring for home automation or security, wiring doors to make them open on voice command - there are a wide array of things that are not in every home today, but may be of need in the future.