HomeToys Interview

We see digital music continuing to make its way into the mainstream. Once people experience the benefits that digital music offers, there is no going back. On the hardware side, hard drives will be everywhere - in your stereo cabinet, in your set-top box, in the car, and of course in portable devices.

Remote Home Networking Support

Residential LANs are still designed separately from the automation network, but custom A-V integrators are starting to install small home networks, connecting 2-3 PCs, a printer and a DSL or cable modem. Dealers continue to expand their home networking knowledge base through training and the acquisition of networking savvy technicians, and the demand for home networking continues to push custom integrators beyond the limits of early entertainment applications and into the new generation of residential information technology.

Getting a Grip on all the Gear

Applying computer technology to home theater, home automation, and security, is the key to making control of these systems not only simple, but also fun. The technology to do everything stated in the article is here now, or very close. As PC integrated solutions become more widely used and refined, they will rapidly simplify the complexity of our electronics systems, making their operation a pleasure for everyone.

New Face of Home Automation

It's exciting to see so many appliance, computer and entertainment suppliers join the home automation fray. It's also a bit scary because forces this powerful can have a profound effect on any market. Over on the demand side, meanwhile, consumers already leery of living in electronic mazes are looking for somebody to make it all work and make it all safe, simple and secure.

Simple Interfaces - Part II

Close coordination between contractors is a must, and you must be able to 'work well with others'. There is a lot of planning involved, both before the project starts and during the installation. Again, a well-designed system is one in which the only time the homeowner calls, is to invite you to dinner.

So ... Who Designed Your System?

If the system designer is not an expert with regards to every aspect of the system, he or she should look for outside design resources, including other system designers, programmers, consultants or even the manufacturers. Making the system work will win you friends and future business. Making a poor system design will cause your phone to ring endlessly . . . and mine too.

Clear Thinking about Home Automation

"System Integration" speaks to the need for intelligent cooperation between the electronic systems in your home. It could be a matter as small as controlling different lighting zones by time or circumstance, or it may go so far as interfacing audio/video, security, lighting, heating & a/c, sprinkler systems, & oh-gosh-so-many -other-things. Remember the key idea: Integration of systems.

Controllers Need to Look Nice

For a satisfying automation experience, incorporate aesthetically pleasing, intuitively simple control interfaces into your home. Throughout your search, just keep in mind that if you don't really want to live with it, you won't really use it.

Easy Use Products

The home networking market is not aiming to be a market of gadgetry, but rather a utility that is routinely included in homes. The less customers have to rely on outside help to maintain the system -- and the more customer friendly and flexible those systems are -- the more likely it is that home networking will see an increased rate of adoption.

Flexibility in Design

My first reaction to seeing some of the products in the marketplace was "you're not putting that in my house", or, "where can we hide it". To me, initially, some of the interfaces seemed unwieldy and incongruous; especially considering they were placed in a room where the homeowner had spent hours agonizing over the perfect lamp shade to highlight the artwork which was selected with even more painstaking care.

Online Washing Machines?

Networking hardware manufacturers would benefit from digging deeper into the residential homeowners' psyche before developing confusing, expensive products and services to a disinterested population.

Simple Interfaces

It should be every installer's objective to install their systems so that the home owners entire family including their children, and the occasional houseguest can operate the lights with no questions, let alone manuals. This includes putting lights on and off in their bedrooms, dining room and living room, exterior lights, scenes, path lights, etc. One shouldn't have to press a button, and wait to see what happens, and where.

Touch Panel Design: Warming Up Technology

Whether you design your touch panel pages internally or outsource to a professional design team, the key to touch panel design success is planning and communication with your customers. Knowing in the beginning what functionality can be achieved will make designing pages an easier task. Dedicating the right amount of time will enable you to produce eye-pleasing page designs and help you introduce a little "technology warmth" in the home.

Futureproof Your Home

New types of devices have helped to change the thinking of home networking experts. Six years ago they said to put bedroom phone outlets by the bed and TV outlets across the room. But they didn't anticipate interactive program guides or NetTV devices that require both a phone and TV outlet. So today they put a phone outlet by every TV outlet. Still, no one can fully anticipate future wiring needs, and that's the message of this article.

Let's Play Ball!

The next time you have an opportunity to observe a group of individuals demonstrating precision and harmony, be it on a sports field or on stage in an orchestra or play, remember that it takes both talent, teamwork and many hours of practice to achieve this level of performance. Remember to expect that same level of performance from the products you use to populate your home network.

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