When I was a child, Disney released a made-for-TV movie called Smart House, in which the house "knew" who its residents were and worked as an alarm system and helping hand: opening doors, offering food and even helping clean up after those rapscallions threw an unauthorized party. That system isn't impossible.
IBM was recently granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a security system that uses the floor as its main component — by turning it to a multi-touch surface. One that can recognize the person standing on it. It would join the growing list of previously inanimate objects that can now interact with you.
It would be able to recognize shapes and sizes, the number of feet on a floor and all sorts of other things that makes you feel like the very ground is watching you. (Which, you know, it sort of would be.) And it could work as a security system, because it would know if you're home or if that's someone else walking around your house.
Perhaps more importantly, it could help monitor the health of its "owner." If a person fell to the ground, it could check for a pulse and, if necessary, call 911.
It's unclear if this will happen, but the possibility is there. For now, IBM is being quiet about its plans for the patent.
"The newly-patented invention is not part of a product or solution and we can't speculate about if or how it will be implemented," said IBM spokesman Christopher Andrews.