Lets Focus on the User Interface

The variety of user interface components illustrated here is impressive. Yet, more creativity is needed for customers to feel comfortable with home automation products without fear of breaking them or causing mayhem. Any interface must convey the perception that the user is in control and the products are servants.

Simplifying A/V controls with the 'Smart Housekeeper'

Take Control Remote

All in all ... this is an awesome remote control unit unlike anything I've played with to date. I found it easy to learn and use. Perhaps the handiest feature is the roller that can switch channels at the speed of light. My eyes ain't what they used to be and being able to just reach over and roll is a pleasure. My biggest dilemma is that I'm going to have to part with this unit when someone wins it in the April Tips and Tricks Contest . Oh well, maybe I'll get one for Father's Day :-) mind you it's a bit expensive ($349) for the kids (unless of course Mom can be convinced to participate).

Top Home Automation Products & Services Recognized

HAA's Mark of Excellence Awards recognize the finest achievements in home automation. 1999 Award winners and finalists were recognized at the Mark of Excellence Awards presentation during the Home Automation Show & Conference, February 8-10 in Orlando. The Home Automation Association is the trade association of the home control industry. HAA members include manufacturers, distributors, dealers, installers and service providers of home automation products. Home automation integrates lighting, entertainment, security, HVAC and telecommunications to provide enhanced energy efficiency, convenience and safety for homes.

Two-Way Lamp and Appliance Modules with Status Polling, Automatic Status Response, and Automatic Gai

These Two-Way Modules can be controlled using standard X-10 commands such as A1-ON. They are therefore compatible with the entire range of existing X-10 controllers. However when used with the CM11A Two-Way Computer Interface and ActiveHome software they can be polled for, or automatically transmit their status. Technical Sidebar below (for programmers who want to develop applications that take advantage of the advanced features of these Two-Way Modules) THEORY OF OPERATION OF TWO-WAY LAMP AND APPLIANCE MODULES

Universal SL9000 Remote

The SL9000 is a great unit for button freaks. It will control every device including X10 home automation and surround sound home theater systems. It has a backlight so you can see the buttons at night. At a price of $139 this unit may be all you ever need to control your entertainment system and the lighting therein.

Unix Home Automation

There needs to be further software written and easier to use front ends so that people like my wife, who don't want to learn complicated commands and setups, can basically point and click. Unix has all the tools needed to perform all of this and still keep the command line there for those who want more power. After the front ends have been added the next thing to work on will be redundancy. This is an area where most Home Automation systems are lacking.

CES '99 in Las Vegas

Many large corporations including Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Philips, Panasonic etc. have entered the fray. Some have seen that the future of the PC is limited unless it expands into the home networking environment. Others note that each home in America now has 2 TV's and one PC (soon to be 2 PC's) as well as umpteen other electronic devices. Why not capitalize on this fact and network all this stuff together. CES99 demonstrated to me that these players and many others are serious about Home Networking.

CES '99 in Las Vegas

Many large corporations including Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Philips, Panasonic etc. have entered the fray. Some have seen that the future of the PC is limited unless it expands into the home networking environment. Others note that each home in America now has 2 TV's and one PC (soon to be 2 PC's) as well as umpteen other electronic devices. Why not capitalize on this fact and network all this stuff together. CES99 demonstrated to me that these players and many others are serious about Home Networking.

HA in China

The following are excerpts of progress reports on the Qingdao Technology Center Home Automation Project as reported by Max E. Greene. Thanks to Max we can get an idea of some of the challenges and rewards of working on an overseas project of this nature.

Home Cabling Part II

The wiring closet exists to hold not only the 'other end' of the cables we run to various points in the house, but also the devices like network hubs, PBXs, alarm control panels, video and audio distribution equipment, etc. that will provide the services these cables carry.

HomeAPI Group Interview

Home API allows a software developer an easy way to discover controllable devices in the home, the control attributes of the devices (on/off, volume up/down, channel, time, temperature, status, etc.), and the current state of the device, and it provides the ability to modify or change the state of the device.

HomeRF Wireless

SWAP defines a common interface specification that supports wireless voice and data services in the home. It was designed to operate with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and the Internet.

Product Review - UK LIGHT SWITCH LW10U

The switch does NOT require a neutral wire. The majority of the rest of European countries (German, France etc) all seem to have their lighting circuits wired differently to the UK (they DO need a neutral wire) and so we couldn't use their switches. The switch will control (and dim) incandescent lights from 60W to 300W.

SceneMaster Lighting Control System

Powerline Control Systems' SceneMaster system allows multiple lights to be set to various dim levels creating single room or whole house lighting scenes with one command. With 4 switches you can implement a complete single room four light system. No central controller is necessary, only one transmitter and the appropriate number of PCS receivers.

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