Syndicated — As technology evolves, so do home conveniences. In 1992, you probably couldn't have predicted the necessity of owning a cell phone. A home computer was a luxury in the 1980s. Now nearly every household has at least one. In earlier generations, what we now consider everyday items went from luxury to standard equipment: Refrigerators, microwaves, garage door openers.
With an eye to the next round of gadgets and gizmos, we've collected a roundup of items that in 10 years most American households may not be able to live without.
$250 and up
This equipment is pretty standard in public restrooms, but there aren't many private homes that have the same technology. The automatic faucet contains a sensor that turns on when you're near or when you tap it. No need to even switch it off; the water will stop running once you leave the room.
$99 for the pot, $12 for cartridges
Attention black thumb gardeners: No need to worry if you're over- or under-watering your plant. A European company named Click and Grow has created a soil-less, electronic flowerpot that gives the exact amount of water and nutrients to whatever you're growing.
You know a product has firmly made its mark on society when it creates its own sub-market of accessories. Take Apple, for example. Not only can you buy cases and cords for your iPhone or iPad, but a company has developed a USB wall socket that includes two USB ports in addition to its two standard outlet ports. Designed to charge electronics 25 percent faster, the USB wall sockets can be installed in a home's existing outlets.
Internet, TV and food
$3,000 and up
Several refrigerator brands have designed their version of the fridge of the future. In addition to just keeping food cold, these self-cleaning refrigerators connect to WiFi so you can manage the food you have in the fridge, keep track of expiration dates or figure out what meals you can put together. Another "smart" fridge includes an LCD screen where homeowners can surf the Internet, manage calendars and even tweet.
Light by touch
Those middle-of-the-night adventures to the bathroom or kitchen can stall quickly by a stubbed toe and missed step. Fumbling for the light switch is no easy task either. A company has come out with a touch-light "tube" you install in the wall. By touching the wall with your fingertips, the light comes on and follows you as you walk. In the case of a power outage, the system can also be used as backup light.
Which of these gadgets do you think you need right now?