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Virtual Home Improvement Help

Techstination feature for Friday, July 26, 2002

High tech help for home improvement. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Web sites and CD ROMs that offer help with home improvement projects have been around for years. But for the most part, what they offer aren't much better than the guides you can find in print. At Accenture Technology Labs, they're working on a new kind of solution...

"It is called virtual home improvement. Really we are using an emerging set of technologies to help people perform home improvement tasks."

Senior Researcher Dadong Wan. It works like this... say you want to wire a new light switch or electrical outlet... but aren't sure which wire goes where...

Today, I probably would just give up, but with the technology, you have another option. So when I need some help, I can just turn on my wireless microphone and I can say, can you help me fix my electrical socket?

The microphone ... transmits back to an Internet connected PC... which replies...

Would you like me to find an electrician? Yes. I found two service providers."

But instead of having the electrician come to your home... you can speak to the professional... and transmit live video of the job you are working on... through a wirelessly connected camera that could be in a flashlight... .

"With this wireless camera, that person can see exactly what I can see in front of me. So he can tell me what I need to do."

Charging a modest fee perhaps... or no fee at all if his business is where you purchase the supplies. Will businesses go for this kind of technology? The researcher says Accenture is finding interest among its clients ... however...

"The main thing here is the back end. To be able to automatically discover service providers. That particular capability is probably a couple of years away."

But... he adds... it's coming. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.