HCA has several protocols built-in: UPB, Insteon, Zwave (limited support), Wireless via WGL whole home wireless systems, IR via Global Cache IR controllers, X10, Next thermostats, a connector to the Wink world, weather data from many sources.
Home Control Software Interview - The Home Control Assistant (HCA)
Kimberly Harms | Advanced Quonset Technology
Please give us a general overview of your software.
The Home Control Assistant (HCA) software is best viewed in two different yet complementary modes. First, HCA is an integrating platform for configuring different automation technologies into a solution that a user develops. Second, HCA is a window into that design to allow users to access it using views that the user develops.
HCA is not a “solution” right out of the box. Rather it is a set of powerful tools, with easy to use visual interfaces – that provide a “toolbox” of features that user can work with to craft a desired solution:
At the simplest level are time based scheduling facilities.
Addition of more complexity to the design can use what we call “check box control” - a “home mode” concept, configurable auto off, room and device interaction configuration, different actions on different days based upon a calendar that sorts days into day categories - a great deal of function can be achieved with minimal effort on the part of the user.
The addition even more complexity – and ability – to the design uses additional facilities: the visual programmer and text based scripting. With the Visual Programmer all a user needs to do is to drag and drop programming elements onto the program canvas and connect them in the order they are executed. With the Visual Programmer you don’t need to worry about all the syntax of a traditional programming or scripting system. Programs in HCA respond to events – inbound and outbound messages to/from interfaces, time and date, events based on weather data, or general purpose expression evaluation.
Finally, HCA has no fixed user interface as such. While its most basic display is built-in – a “field of icons showing state” – users construct an interface that expresses their needs using tools s HCA provides – cross-room displays, tiled displays, HTML and text based displays, Power Track graphs.
Which OS and hardware are required to make the system function?
The main executables are all Windows based. Any modern version of Windows – Vista to Windows 10 – is supported. A design effort was to stay within the accepted limits of Windows and as such many user run HCA with the appropriate emulator software under Linux and on apple platforms.
Which protocols or brands of devices will the software control?
HCA has several protocols built-in: UPB, Insteon, Zwave (limited support), Wireless via WGL whole home wireless systems, IR via Global Cache IR controllers, X10, Next thermostats, a connector to the Wink world, weather data from many sources. In addition the software contains integrating facilities that users have used to integrate other technologies and devices. For example Bruletech energy monitors, Lutron Shade controllers, and the RFXCOM wireless integration hub to name several.
Does the software run on a PC? If not please describe how it works.
HCA is PC based and there are two possible modes of operation. In what we call “stand alone” mode, HCA is executed on a single machine with any necessary automation interfaces attached. In this configuration external connections for control or view are not possible. In “client sever” mode, the server executable – containing almost no user interface – executes on a machine with the automation interfaces attached. On that same machine, or on other networked machines, clients are connected. We provide an Android, iOS, and Windows client for “control only” access – the design can’t be modified. It is also possible to connect HCA to the HCA Server in full read-write mode to allow design modifications. Up to 8 clients can be connected to the server simultaneously.
Can the software be controlled with other devices such as smart phones, tablets or dedicated keypads etc.
In addition to the PC support, there is also a Android and iOS client available for download from the app stores at no additional cost. These connect to the HCA server and allow control access to the design.
Please describe some of the primary functions that can be performed by the software.
Ultimately, what the software does depends upon what the user has used the HCA tools to construct.
Is the software designed to be installed and set up by a homeowner or is a professional integrator recommended?
HCA is designed for the end-user. To what level that the users chooses to work with HCA is up to their choice and skill set.
How long has the company been in operation and what other products / services do you offer?
HCA is published and supported by Advanced Quonset Technology, Inc a Washington based corporation and has been in the automation software business for over 20 years. We also have worked with other companies to develop and maintain software titles that are provided under those companies brands.
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