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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a time and a season for everything, and indeed, even in a two-way system there is a time to "speak" and a time to refrain from "speaking". So the focus of the issue before us is whether a system can support two-way communication and not when and how this capability is used.
According to APC, the SurgeStation offers the Lowest IEEE 587 Category A Let-through and UL 1449 330V. IEEE tests simulate severe surge events common to the home and office environment. SurgeArrest provides the lowest let-through voltages for maximum protection. Moreover, SurgeArrest's 330V rating is UL's best available rating against devastating surges and spikes. All SurgeArrest products have received UL's 330V rating.
No, the unit doesn't get the body of the messages (it leaves those in your mailbox for retrieval with a PC). The IT-380 is designed to be an "E-mail advisory device" or Internet appliance, meaning that it informs you that you have new E-mail without providing the full message text; it is not designed for sending and receiving E-mail. My first impression of this limitation was negative but then when I thought about it, I realized that I really don't want a phone to get my email anyway. How would I type in a reply, organize and save messages etc. with a keypad. And what attachments ... where would they go ... lost in cyberspace forever?
Ask 100 people on the streets of the UK what X-10 is and I reckon the two top answers would be: 1. It's a sci-fi movie. or 2. It's that cream for hemorrhoids isn't it? Up until very recently X-10 had only been available from a couple of mail order specialists. Then, about 12 months ago, products finally became available 'over the counter' in Maplin stores (something like your Radio Shack) across the country. Despite recent price cuts, modules are still very expensive. A lamp module, for example, is around 30.00 UK Pounds (the equivalent of just under $50!!). You can imagine how sick we feel when we see US units advertised at around $10. But at last X-10 is slowly starting to get exposure in the UK.
All the talk of a home office is great, but not practical, because our bosses require us to be at the office during the work day, and just allow the home office for us to do more work for them while we're at home! That's okay for some, but I've got a better idea -- lets bring the home -- to the office; or anywhere we are! Cheap!!
I had the unit up an running in a few minutes and it learned commands from my remote in no time. This is the first device I've reviewed from the UK and I'm impressed with the functionality. Frankly, I think much of the equipment coming to market these days is unnecessarily complicated as manufacturers try to do too much with one device.
"Controlling devices in the selected house code is easy but you must know the correct phrases to use. For example "Turn on Coach Lamp" commands the lamp on and "Shut off Coach Lamp" turns it off. "Set Coach Lamp to 75%" ... Brighten Coach Lamp by 10%" etc. Once you learn the key phrases you're all set and with proper training, the voice recognition is quite accurate."
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