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JONATHAN CLUTS is the type of guy who once rewired his dorm room to control all the lights from a central switchbox. And as a kid, he thought it would be great to be an "Imagineer," one of the creative minds behind the Disney theme parks.
He hasn't realized that particular ambition, but he has come pretty close as the director of Microsoft's strategic prototyping team, including oversight of the futuristic Microsoft Home on the company's Redmond campus.
And in an extension of that role, Cluts, 47, is one of the key people behind the new Innoventions Dream Home attraction at Disneyland. The project, scheduled to open Monday, is a partnership of Microsoft and other companies.
The Dream Home is a modern-day sequel to the Monsanto House of the Future, a Disneyland attraction from 1957 to 1967. The new Dream Home project, in Disneyland's Tomorrowland, includes some futuristic technology concepts, like its predecessor.
Inside the Innoventions Dream Home attraction, which opens Monday at Disneyland.
But the companies made a conscious decision to focus more on technological capabilities that are possible today, though not widely used.
"It's real. This isn't science fiction, and it's not pure extrapolation," Cluts said last week. "You can integrate much of what you see here now."
The problem with going purely futuristic is that people get home and say, "Wow that's cool, but it's never going to happen," Cluts explained.
By focusing on current scenarios, the Dream Home also doubles as a subtle promotional vehicle for Microsoft. For example, the dining room table is a collection of Microsoft Surface tabletop computers that display photos and videos when members of the home's fictional family place their mobile phones on the top.
Microsoft Surface computers are currently being deployed in commercial settings, so that scenario is already possible, but versions for consumers aren't expected to be available for a few years.
The Dream Home also includes concepts from the Microsoft Home. For example, a bag of flour placed on the kitchen counter prompts a computer voice to read recipes and instructions for meals that include flour as an ingredient.
One bedroom also includes a smart mirror that projects, on a person's reflection, virtual images of clothes from a nearby closet, reducing the need to actually put them on. The Microsoft Home has a similar magic mirror in its bedroom.
Cluts, whose father was an electrical engineer, was introduced to the concept of Disney Imagineering as a kid, when he saw a "Wonderful World of Disney" TV episode that went behind the scenes at Disneyland. He remembers being wowed by the animatronics and other technological tricks.
A pianist and former professional musician, Cluts studied music and audio engineering in college, and worked in the recording industry. He joined Microsoft in 1990, after his wife, Nancy, was hired by the company, and he has held a variety of positions.
One highlight of the Dream Home experience for Cluts was participating in an early brainstorming session that included Kim Irvine, a legendary Disney Imagineer.
Although the Microsoft Home in Redmond has existed for years, it isn't open to the public, so the Dream Home at Disneyland will be the first exposure to the concepts for many people who visit it.
The 5,000-square-foot Dream Home grew out of a series of visits that Disney representatives made to the Microsoft Home in past years. The companies started talking about creating a similar Disneyland attraction.
Computer maker HP also contributed to the project. The Dream Home includes software called Lifeware, homeautomation technology that works with Microsoft's Windows Media Center software. Disney brought in homebuilder Taylor Morrison to work on the project, as well.
The companies have a five-year agreement for the Dream Home. Cluts and his Microsoft team have been heavily involved in the creation of the home, which is expected to be updated at various points to keep it technologically fresh.