As a young boy I remember jumping out of bed and rushing to the couch on Saturday mornings to watch my favorite cartoon, The Jetsons. George Jetson had a car that would fold up into a briefcase, his boy Elroy had a bathroom that would automatically get him ready for school and their space age house would practically do anything your heart desired.
Well, we are still a long way away from a car that folds up into a briefcase but we are much closer to a house that can do much more for us. Smart home technology has grown significantly over the past few years. Much of that growth is attributed to low cost lighting and control modules, user friendly PC software and increased competition. All these components make installing and implementing smart home technologies easier for the â€œdo-it-yourselfâ€ person.
One of the inherent problems with smart home technologies is the ability to tie all of the different technologies together in a single easy to use interface. Since one company or technology does not provide the ideal solution that fits all the needs for all home owners, the next best thing is to implement technology that brings access to these different systems to a common interface.
One of the newest and most promising technology that allows us to bring the control of all these different systems to single interface is Microsoft Media Center. Introduced in 2003 and radically improved with version 2005, Windows Media Center is quickly becoming an important center point of the digital smart home. Many experts believe that Windows Media Center will be the hottest product over the next few years. Microsoft announced that since April of 2005, Media Center operating systems sales have doubled to over 4 million units. Other experts are predicting that Windows Media Center will sell 50 millions units by 2009.
If you are not familiar with Windows Media Center, it is specialized Windows operating system software that runs on specialized computers, like Cannon PC Media Centers. This combination of hardware and software allows you to record, pause, and rewind live TV, surf the web, check email, view videos or DVD, listen to CDs and a host of other things directly from your TV.
One of the hot technologies that are ideal for Media Center is home automation. With advancements in home automation technology, you can now control lights, sprinklers, heating and air conditioning, monitor entry ways, close and lock gates or doors, monitor water leaks and much more; all of this making your home more energy efficient and more secure.
Today, many of the major smart home technology manufactures, like HAI and Home Seer, are developing software plug-ins for Windows Media Center that allow you to access and control their devices (and others) with Media Center. Imagine, you’re watching your favorite movie and you want to check to see if you left the garage door open. Just pick up your media center remote, click on your home automation software menu and sure enough, the garage door is open. With one click you close the door and turn on the outside lights for your teenage kids who will be coming home late. No longer do you have to get up, go over to the touch pad located on the wall or even worse, walk out to the garage. Now with Media Center software and Media Center PCs, you can bring all this technology together into one central interface. No more searching for a control pad or remote, no getting up and walking to a control pad on the wall or walking into the home office to logon to the computer to control these devices. With new Wi-Fi technology, like the Nevo SL, and portable web pads embedded with Windows technology, it is possible to walk from room to room and control your Media Center or Media Center Extenders from a single remote.
We have always been told that some day we will have a computer that will run our house. That day is almost here. With Media Center 2005 and Home Automation products, now you can easily control and manage them all from the comfort of your couch.