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Patrice Calve Life's short, have fun

hey there...

Ever since "home automation" became popular, I found that the "automation's" use made me laugh.  Starting the coffee in the morning, starting the shower for me...  I'm not a robot.  I get up when the kids wake me up.  I get my coffee fresh, once at work.

Automatic coffee machine, now that's funny.  Ho, and your coffee is freshly brewed every morning?  The filter is changed?  Water is filled up?  Container is cleaned.  Wow, now that's automation.  At work, we use an Avalon Quad.  Fresh everytime!

Network Audio.  I'm in the bathtub and want to listen a CD that's in the living room...  That's really cool.  But absolutely useless with a familly of 3 kids!  What happens if someone changes the CD while your listening to it?  What if you the CD is in the case?  Is there a robot that will pick it up from the case and change the CD?  No, you buy a 300CD jukebox.  Ok, what if someone else is using that jukebox?  You buy another jukebox?  What if the CD is in the other jukebox?  You buy two CDs ?  Come on! 

You rip your CDs, store them on a network disk and listen to whatever you want, in whatever order, from whatever "mp3 friendly" device that understands network shares!

Anyway, back at home !  I want more "simple" things:

  • clocks that are at the right time (and changes automatically with DST)
  • a way to know what lights are on/off
  • a way to know what windows are open
  • a way to know the level of water in the well
  • a way to know that the refrigerator door was left open (even a milimeter)

I just got introduced to ZigBee and Mesh Networking !  Wow, now this has potential.  Especially if there's a device that interact with a standard computer.

Imagine these ZigBee implementations...

  • Clocks (standard ones with pointy hands and digitals) everywhere (microwave, oven, wakeup radio, VCR, TV, your watches, the alarm system, the water softener system, etc.) that would adjust automatically.  Why not having them serve as a FFD "full function device".  They're the perfect router because they are almost everywhere and don't move often.
  • Going to bed, from your LCD or PocketPC:
    • you know exactly what lights are left open.  You could even turn them off.  Have it "learn" that some lights should "always" be off at night and never ask again
    • you know what device is running and shouldn't be (TV, VCR, DVD, oven, ...) and be able to turn them off
    • know if the doors are locked
    • know if the windows are open
  • You're sleeping and it's starts to rain...
    • sensors inside windows would alert you to close the windows, or if you have great windows, the windows close by themself.
    • sensors in your car alerts you to close the windows, or close themself
  • Whenever the refrigerator door is left open more than (1 minute?), a reminder rings.
  • You want to know where your keys, wallet, remote control, phone, etc are, have the device zero-in on them!

Who can tell me what's the level of water in their well?  In real time and anytime in the past?  I have no clue.  When I water the lawn for 1 hour, how much water do I use?  10% or 90%?  At 10%, I would water the lawn more often.  At 90%, wooha, I would stop.

Also, why water the lawn when the weather forcast is predicting rain in the afternoon?  If the device is not sure?  Ask !

You plan a big party next weekend and your sceptic tank is 99% full.  Wouldn't it be great to have the shit pumped out before it overflows? 

Better yet, you already have a service contract with a pumping company and they know that the tank is 99% full and needs to pump it !

You have water sensors in the basement floor that monitors water.  A pipe breaks, when the sensors detects water, the main valve shuts down, you get informed of the problem and the system calls your plumber.

Why heat/cool the house when the doors are open?  When the A/C or heat system is on, the windows should be closed, right?  At least, you should be informed.

And, you could be at work and see/control anything at home.

  • Pocket PC - 3 Water sensors in the basement have detected water in the basement...  Proceed with automatic handling?
  • Me - Yes
  • (2 minutes later)
  • Pocket PC - The main valve has been turned off.  Joe Plumber has been informed and will be here in the afternoon to look at the problem
  • Me - OK
  • (1 hour later)
  • Pocket PC - Water level is still rising.  Proceed with automatic handling?
  • Me - Yes
  • (3 minutes later)
  • Pocket PC - Tom (your neighboor) is informed about the problem and confirms water on the lawn.  Joe Disaster is on their way to handle the problem.  Joe Sinister Cleaner is informed and will be available to cleanup as soon as water is cleared.
  • Me - OK

A certain device (any) is know to consume 10 kwh of electricity, roughly 10 times a day.  Now, for the past 2 days, that device has been working non stop.  Maybe there's a problem, check it out.

That's what I call home automation.

I can't wait to see these in action.


Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 5:25 AM | Back to top

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