HomeOS aims to be a “PC-like abstraction,” where connecting a new light or ceiling fan to the system is as simple as plugging a new mouse into your computer. Users would have an app store for device controls and for finding new devices compatible with their set-ups.
Microsoft Research isn’t the first group to focus on a centralized system for home controls. Standards groups such as Z-Wave and Zigbee Alliance already offer common systems for controlling lights, thermostats, security alarms and other devices. But as Microsoft argues, these systems still don’t allow enough communication between devices, so for instance, you might have a conflict where an energy management system wants to open your windows, while a security system wants to close them. The alternative is to buy a line of products from one company that are designed to work together, but then you’re locked into that company’s devices.
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