General English – Upper Intermediate (B2) Listening

The Home of the Future

First complete the pre-listening tasks on the left before watching the video and answering the comprehension questions before checking your answers.  The video transcript has been provided to help you do this.  Once complete complete the speaking exercises.

Video Credits

This video was made by the BBC for The Gadget Show and all copyright remains with them. This version was initially produced and made available through The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

Video Transcript - Check your Answers

Created by eHome Automation, this villa in Dubai has a fully integrated computer control system built into its walls, meaning you can customise every electrically powered device in the property.

The set-up here allows you to control every aspect of your living environment. You can control the curtains, the lights, the temperature, the gates, security, the kitchen, the bathroom – even the bed.

This particular set-up costs twenty-five thousand pounds and it’s all run from a central server that allows you to control everything using a variety of different interfaces including wireless touch-screen tablets, intelligent LCD switches and a wall-mounted touch-screen control.

But in reality you only need to use one of those devices. For instance, I can control everything in this house using an Xbox 360 controller, which is great because before the eHome control system was put in – I had to use all of these.

But my favourite way of interfacing with this system, which you can do via Windows Media Centre, is talk to it. It has a personality. Her name’s Valerie. And I think we’re getting on very well.

Valerie – open left curtain – [female computerised voice speaks as curtain opens]

Thank you, Valerie. Valerie – open right curtain – [female computerised voice speaks as curtain opens]

Oh, I’m so in love with her. She’s wonderful.

Not only does Valerie act upon my voice commands, I can pre-program her to essentially become a digital butler and tend to my every need.

This is where the system gets even sexier. You see, the system can actually recognise different individuals as they walk into different rooms. I’ve an RFID device on the bottom of my shoe. At the threshold of each room is a reader. So when I come home at the end of the day I like to sit down and watch a movie. I cross the threshold. Valerie knows I’m in my place and I’m ready to watch a film. I sit down, the curtains close, the screen comes down, the light dims – and she presses play. She knows what I like.

This home automation system really can control as much or as little of your home as you want it to – even your bed.

You set your alarm for six thirty. At six thirty in the morning your alarm goes off. You can’t turn it off by physically reaching out and switching it off. You have to jump out of bed. You activate a pressure switch underneath your carpet – and it’s off. However, if like me you’re a bit of a lazybones and you want to go back to bed – you can do. But if after a predetermined amount of time the motion sensors in the bathroom don’t detect your presence in there to take care of your ablutions, Valerie will literally throw you out of bed.

All right, Valerie –

The system can also control the security of your home by monitoring motion sensors outside the house and capturing pictures of anyone who disturbs them. And all its functions can be accessed remotely as long as you have an internet connection. So say you’re working late at the office and you’ve forgotten you’ve got a mate popping round, well, you can check it’s them on the security cameras, let them in to the house, switch on the lights and then put on a movie to entertain them until you get back.

And eHome have even developed their own iPhone app for the system.

The interface looks exactly like that which you get inside the home and it works like this. I’m going to open up the curtains. There we are. As you can see, my lights are on so I’m going to turn them off.

And as long as you have a mobile phone signal, you can control your eHome from anywhere in the world.

Oh, there we are. Nobody’s at home.

Speaking *


1. What aspects of the smart home did you like the most / least and why? Would you have your favourite elements in your home?

2. Is it good that your home can recognise you and that you carry a chip (Rfid tag) in your shoe?

3. Based on what you saw in the video what else would you add to the home?

4. Technology is often associated with not being very environmentally friendly. Is this the case? What environmentally friendly home technologies can you think of?

5. Would you like to live in this house? Why / Why not?


* You need to prepare for a discussion on these questions during your next online or face-to-face session with your tutor.

Lesson Credits;

Omega Support Services 2016

Pre-Listening Tasks

1. What technological innovations do you have in your home?

2. What are the advantages / disadvantages of these innovations?

3. What technology would you like to have in your house and why?

4. Is having a technologically advanced home important to you? Why / Why not?

Listening Tasks

Now watch the video and answer the following questions:

1. Which company created the home in Dubai that the presenter is visiting?

2. How much does the setup in the video cost?

3. Which three interfaces does the presenter initially list as examples that can be used to control the system? Which other device does he mention and can it be used to control everything?

4. What is the presenter’s favourite way of interacting with the system?

5. What does the presenter describe Valerie as being similar to?

6. How is the alarm turned off in the smart home?

7. How does the failsafe for the alarm work to ensure you get up?

8. What two things does the security system do?

9. If you have a friend coming round and you are not at home yet what can the system do?

10. What is the major advantage of having the mobile app for the system?