Ask Hackaday: What is “Home Automation”?

homeAutomationCollage

We’re not entirely sure what’s become of the term “home automation.” The definition seems to have settled for any user interface in the home—via tablets, phones, handheld remote controls, etc. Some of these devices lack any form of automation and instead require manual input. Even Wikipedia’s home automation article suggests a move toward this trend, offering the following definition (emphasis ours):

It is automation of the home, housework or household activity. Home automation may include centralized control of lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), appliances, security locks of gates and doors and other systems, to provide improved convenience, comfort, energy efficiency and security.

Though “automation” is clearly included in the first sentence, one could interpret the bolded potion as meaning either:

  • Truly automated systems may also include centralized control (as a feature).
  • The category of home automation also includes systems that merely provide centralized controls.

So, are automated components optional? Judging by the phrasing of projects submitted to our tips line: yes sir. Truly automated systems exist, but if you browse through any home improvement store’s “home automation” section, you’ll be pummeled by a string of remote-controlled light dimmers and outlets. How many of these are designed to interact with sensors as feedback systems or otherwise function unattended?

Our articles often favor an “automation-optional” categorization. Should we, however, reserve the “automation” label for projects like the light switch based on room occupancy and deny other builds, like the voice-activated lights/outlets system or the RasPi lighting and audio control via web interface? Hit up the comments and help shed some light on how to properly use the terminology.

Comments

  1. I see it as foolishly shortsighted to claim that digital bridge/remote control interfaces don’t classify as relevant to “home automation”. I’d absolutely agree that they, themselves, aren’t shortsighted, but it depends on what you want the tag to mean — in my eyes, categories are a way to sort articles into “this is relevant to my interests” lists for people. A web/RESTful/networked interface to is *always* relevant to somone looking for “home automation”, as that’s generally the hard part of the process; once you can post from your phone that you want your music in a room to start playing, having it do so automatically given time of day/other triggers is an IFTTT recipe or cron job away.

    It’s true that these interface projects may lack in the “automation” department, strictly speaking, but they’re inherently useful and relevant to those interested in taking them in that direction. Heck, I’d even hear an argument that “I can press the button remotely” is “automating” the step of getting off my lazy ass and pressing the manufacturer’s intended button. Once you’ve got a homespun, computer-addressable interface, the “automation” is trivialized.

    I stay keep it, because the alternative is acting on a semantic argument that lessens the usefulness of the tag. That alternative would be a broader-use tag (“internet of things” is the only common one I can think of that’d be relevant, but 1: that implies internet connectivity, which isn’t always desirable, and 2: I know a lot of people dislike that term).

    I say all this with a vested interest in being able to find these projects easily; I’ve got an automation framework I’m working on documenting right now, and I love reading up on the silly, awesome feats of interfacing that people like to share; inspires me to do similar stuff myself.

    • Josh Marsh says:

      This is precisely the issue, and it applies not only to how we label things here at HaD, but how marketing teams for retailers and how hackers label their creations as well.

      I don’t disagree that many devices COULD be used for home automation. Creating a software interface to manually control the lights in your home is a great first step toward a more autonomous system.

      But, is that any different from say, creating a monitor from scratch and then calling it a “video game” system? Sure, it can be used for video games, but it’s just a monitor. unless you hook it up to a console, etc. (To be fair, I admit this isn’t the best analogy and I realize the connection between home automation and non-autonomous home devices is closer).

      I like Max’s distinction below: home control vs. home automation, where home automation is entirely passive and these other devices are instead labeled home control.

    • Tim says:

      +1 for someone that hates “the internet of things” marketing term

      Here is my take:
      Home Control – basic remote control of lights, audio, etc. (app for my receiver, etc.)
      Home Monitoring – remote access added to home control, incl. cameras, etc.
      Home Security – adds connection to alert authorities to home monitoring above
      Home Automation – all of the above, working to do things for convenience and safety in response to various inputs (sensors, activity, etc.)

      In the interest of simplicity for HaD I would be fine with it all falling under Home Automation. A simple motion sensor turning on the light in a room based on occupancy is a most basic example of Home Automation. It will all fall under one umbrella eventually once every home in America has some form of it, so we might as well just stick with Home Automation.

      • easylikechmod777 says:

        Eh. I’m a network guy and we call it ‘the internet of things’. First gen was phones (cell or not), second gen was IP telephony(obliterating first gen), IP cameras, and IP access systems like gates and doors. Next up is the internet of everything, or the internet of things.

        The general consensus is, whenever the IETF gets around to making a proper, all inclusive protocol for this stuff, it will take off as fast as the internet and not one day before. A better alternative is for devices to start shipping with ipv6 (IPV6 NAOO!!!! who doesn’t want 100billion personal addresses to play with?) and a ssh server back end for easy, portable, extensible control.

        It can be all very, very powerful. Problem is that there just is way too many people reinventing the wheel with dozens of systems that wont talk to each other.

        • Tim says:

          I just don’t need my coffee mug or office chair to have an IP address. The term leads to, like you said “the internet of everything” which is a slippery slope lubricated with pure crap.

  2. ino says:

    What is “Home Automation” ?
    A way for people to design a device that will take more time in the end than doing the task by themselves :)

  3. Eirinn says:

    Automation != Autonomous.

    I think that lines solves the problem really. Home Automation is something, that does something, for you. It doesn’t have to be triggered by itself. If it did, it would be Autonomous Home Automation ;)

    • Eirinn says:

      Autonomous: Not controlled by others or by outside forces; independent.
      Automatic: operating with minimal human intervention.

      I thought I’d append this – feel free to contest! :)

    • Sheldon says:

      Totally agree.
      While it may be good to have a stronger (clearer) usage within HaD to avoid a deluge of simple HA implementations it’s a grey area of what would be vs not. There’s a large spectrum from the basic of HA of ‘remote control switch’ to the extreme autonomous system that is practically self-aware.

      Most systems will need some level of manual input and attedence (even something as shiny as Nest) so really what we’re arguing over is how automatic does it have to be before it’s considered worthy, at which point it’s more of a “pissing contest” than a clear definiton (such as the one on wikipedia).

      So, let’s hear what HaD’s definition will be and see if we can discuss the caveats/issues that arise from that.

      • Josh Marsh says:

        I think my problem with “automatic” vs “autonomous” definition is that most of these builds’ ‘manual input’ is merely a migration from a mechanical / tactile interface (flip switch on wall) to a software one (push button on tablet).

        • Sheldon says:

          So lets start there then, filter out “simple” HA hacks. It sounds like you’d want to discount ones that are little more than remote presence but what sort of range constraints on the remote presence? (same room, same building, same ZIP code, same country, etc)

          • Neil Cherry says:

            I am not against the “simple” HA hacks. Many times these hacks can be useful to add to a HA system. So I kind of recommend leaving the current manual input/remote control in the HA section. Sometimes the interfaces are the interesting part.

            Now the automatic (this an include the mechanical timer) vs the autonomous is where we get into the programmable part of the HA. That’s something I am interested in (For further details, please see my published works … ;-) ). I am currently working on a replacement for my irrigation controller (http://ushomeautomation.com/Projects/irrnode/index.html) and a replacement for Mr House (misterhouse.wikispaces.com).

          • Sheldon says:

            @Neil Cherry
            Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for even the “remote control” level hacks (as you say, they act as a good leaping point for a bigger system) so I’d want them all to still be appear in HaD in the HA section (although, like the link round-up posts, the simpler ones could perhaps be combined into a single super-post-round-up).

            I think the biggest hurdle with some of the HA hacking is the scalability, it would be great to be able to link several ‘home-hacks’ into a bigger system but they often don’t scale (e.g. they use a proprietary protocol).
            My HA project to improve my central-heating system is still stuck on the first step – trying to find simple & cheap electrically operated radiator valves :-(
            No point even thinking about fancy g-calendar hooks if I can’t even turn the radiator/light/socket on and off!

  4. Daenske says:

    I’d say a process can be considered automated, even if it is user initiated. I’ve worked with industrial automation, and you would be surprised what simple tasks fall under that giant umbrella.

  5. daenske says:

    I’ve worked with industrial automation, and you’d be surprised what simple tasks falls under that giant umbrella.

    Anyway, an automatic process is usually set in motion by input. This could be user input or otherwise, but it is no less an automated process.

  6. okowsc says:

    i say it has to do something by itsef to be called HA

  7. Addidis says:

    I think if it has ‘automation’ in the name it should be ‘capable’ of running on its own. It can have input but should be able to run itself on some level.

    The blind opener from yesterday is a perfect example. (good example)

    And the Clapper is kind of questionable,

    And a remote controlled outlet doesn’t count. (bad example)

  8. Max. says:

    Home automation vs. home control I think. My personal view is HA systems should be totally passive and require no user intervention.

    • dan says:

      capable of running on it’s own? (comment above yours)

      where do you draw the line?

      now running totally on its own.

      most machines have an “on” button, or require manual input of materials?

      someone better tell the makers of completely autonomous unmanned production plants that they better stop mislabelling their products as they aren’t capable of running on their own they still need a person to press a button to start!

      the flip side of how inclusive do you get.

      that I can press the unlock button on my phone, type in a pin code, start an app and press a button, all so that I don;t have to press a button… seems a little too inclusive.

      but then that depends, the people who interface their TV’s the computers that can change the channel, (so I have to press a series of buttons on one control so that I don’t need to press the button on another control?) seems that it shouldn’t be included.

      on the other hand, pressing a button on a smart phone that physically flips a switch to turn the light on, well that seems rather automated.

      a cat flap that determines if the cat is mine or not seems a perfect example of automation, -where the other choice is me standing next to and policing a cat flap.

  9. Neil Cherry says:

    My definition:

    Home Automation (HA) is an integrated automation system that is specific to the requirements of a private residence. It applies automation (mechanical or electronic) techniques for the comfort, security, entertainment, communications, and information processing needs of it’s residents.

    A thermostat is automation, it automatically turn on the appropriate system in response to temperature settings (in a simple thermostat). A TV remote is not home automation, that’s remote control. Much of what is presented as HA is really remote control. That doesn’t mean that remote control is not part of HA. This is where the grey area starts.

  10. Donat says:

    I work for a home autimation installer type company, most of what we do is av related. In most cases, we install centralized control systems that interface with all the other systems. Essentially the result will be pressing a button on an ipad, have te lights dim, projector screen come down and be able to select from a variety of sources.

    I would say this is automation in the sense that you need not carry out the insividual actions, and the system carries out only the relevant actions to one’s desired outcome. This is higly dependant on having centralised ‘home automation’ systems to tap into.

    However it still requires user input and in that sense it is not intelligent, only scripted.

  11. Bob says:

    Home Automation

    Def: A marketting term to make your products sounds sexy, futuristic and more advanced than the perfectly good enough product you are currently using for the task.
    See speech recogniton wifi enabled thermostats for example…

  12. owp says:

    Any system which can be set up truly autonomous, can also be controlled manually and IMO should be able to do so conveniently, with as simple a UI as possible.

    I’ve worked in AV install for years, and we do a lot of “automation” and “automated lifts” for everything from projectors, screens, whether it be down from the ceiling or up from cabinets, whether it be chandeliers or automated curtains for windows and small theaters, or even the occasional hidden bachelor bar, you can find high end manufacturers who have been selling this stuff under the description of automation for decades already.

    HVAC automation is standard and has been for a long time- so that doesn’t count unless you were to “hack” it, such as tying it in with a remote with other stuff … like the lights, alarm, etc. A garage door opener that is triggered with a cel phone should qualify as part of HA, IMO, but you’re only going to run a story like that once or twice depending on how they did it, so I don’t foresee it clogging up your HA searches very much.

    Perhaps a “simple hack” or “complex hack” rating in the tags would help you pare things down, if you feel the need to subcategorize this stuff.

  13. Doug says:

    Similar to remote controlled “robots” that don’t have any automatic functionality but are still called robots. (although drive-by-wire cars are not called robots) Remote control is certainly a building block for full automation and any cell phone that can be used for remote control could be programmed to perform the same control functions on a schedule or in response to some sensor. Home automation is a popular catch-all term that is already used for many remote control applications, so it is likely too late to place a narrow definition on it. However if you want to break the field into more more descriptive categories, you could try inventing new terminology and see if it sticks. Like domestic remote control (DRC) or autonomous home systems (HMS). Smart home is probably already synonymous with home automation so it has already spread beyond its intended definition.

  14. otto-mate says:

    The ‘Automation’ part mainly means ‘Remote Control’ for a lot of systems these days.

    Companies like Idratek are working on the sorts of algorithms that can be used to produce intelligent, autonomous actions instead.

    • Jerry says:

      All the algortihms in the world are useless with a way to actuate the outputs of the algortihms. Remote control is as much a part of home automation as the fancy algorithms.

      • Neil Cherry says:

        Yes but remote control in and of itself is not HA but HA does contain remote control. I’ve used a TV remote to trigger my automation (using X10 to turn on the TV, IR to turn on and change it to the audio to the correct settings, X10 for lights and IP to control the Tivo) but simply turning on the TV with the remote isn’t the HA part.

        • Jerry says:

          So at what point does pushing a button to make something happen turn from remote control to home automation?

          The TV remote saved me from getting off the couch to turn the TV on.

          What if I had a button to change the audio to the correct settings and another button to turn the lights on and another button to control the tivo? Is that home automation? The only difference between a TV remote and your definition of home automation is a macro.

          And that macro saved me from pushing a few extra buttons. The TV remote saved me from having to wander across the room to get to the TV.

          I have a web app that allows me to turn on my sprinklers (ie a TV remote control that happens to open a valve, instead of turn on a TV). I also have an automatic script setup to turn on the sprinklers every day, unless its it’s raining. The second part is not possible without the first. Which is more important?

          I also have a flow meter that lets me keep track of how much water is being used. That doesn’t control anything – is that still part of home automation?

          • montrough says:

            Just to point out, I don’t want the remote control stuff removed from the HA. They’re often ‘close enough for government work’. On my web site I don’t try to separate them, they’re part of the building blocks of HA.

            > So at what point does pushing a button to make something happen turn from remote control to home automation?

            When automation (usually software now-a-days) gets involved is involved to make decisions based on the input .

            A remote can do macros but a remote can not tell that the TV is on (for TVs that use the same on/off signal). For the macro to work it must be in sync. A remote can support some different technologies (X10, RF, IR) they can deal with IP and send/receive interaction. The automation can handle these details. It can read the power levels of the TV (a TV in the on state uses more than the TV in the off state, even for bad power saving TVs).

            > … The second part is not possible without the first. Which is more important?

            Together both. The first part is not the automation just the delivery system for the signal. Automation is built on top of other systems but that doesn’t make the IR remote the automation.

    • MrFluffy says:

      “Companies like idra-tek”, yes , idratek, with their vendor lock-in, proprietory undocumented protocol and a refusal to support any platform but cortex on windows, nor support a effort to get even the devices to talk to something besides that.
      They are not part of the solution, they are part of the vendor lock in closed garden problem.

      • Karam says:

        Saw this way too late but for what its worth: vendor lock-in, proprietory etc. are unintentional. The only reason it is the way it is is because that is what it took to enable us to do what we do. You have to bear in mind that our system originated about 15 years ago. We designed our protocol from scratch because none others were good enough for our vision of automation. It is not entirely undocumented – you will see publications from our early years in various academic journals, but yes you are right there are no detailed public documents about it but not because we want to keep it a secret – rather that we just haven’t got the resources to support enquiries from people who might want to dabble. ‘Refusal to support any platform but Cortex on Windows’ is your description but again the only reason is because that is what it takes to do what we do. Everyone is moaning about the need for proper automation and yet you haven’t stopped to consider what is required to achieve it. Every time we have added interfaces to other products such as X10, Rako, HomeEasy it creates a point in our system which doesn’t fit well with the rest If we had the resource to write our software on another platform we would gladly do so, but again you have to consider that our choice of MS Windows is a matter of need – we just could not do all the things we do with, for example, a Linux platform. Possibly even not now but certainly not when we started. Proper automation is like a human body – you can try grafting bits of brain or other body parts together but you will not get anything like as good a result as marrying hardware and software that are intended for each other.

  15. Chris C. says:

    If you redefine “automation” to exclude devices that are triggered solely by immediate and explicit user input, I’d say you’re excluding most devices that fall under the generally accepted definition.

    And most people don’t want complex automation. There are surprisingly few instances where it works well in a real home. Take the light switch based on room occupancy, for example. What if:

    1) People occasionally enter/leave a room together in such a way the sensor can’t maintain an accurate count, and sometimes fails to function as intended?
    2) Your entry, and the lights automatically coming on, will disturb someone already in the room who is sleeping or watching a movie?
    3) The person in case #2 has used a manual override to prevent this, then forgets to remove it?
    4) #1 or #3 happen to a guest, who will have no idea how to deal with it?
    5) You’re trying to move around the house while preserving your night vision? Either because you’ll soon be moving to an intentionally darkened room (#2 again), or because you’re checking the house for intruders?

    I speak from experience when I say that these failures and exceptions, even if occasional, are particularly annoying and distracting. You may have to randomly stop what you’re doing to investigate what went wrong this time around, and how to fix it. Or consider whether merely entering a room might have an unwanted effect.

    Whereas habitually switching that light on/off yourself is a complete no-brainer. And pretty much effortless as long as the switching can always be accomplished from a convenient location – which can be done with the exact kind of device you’re suggesting should be excluded, and why they’re so common by comparison.

    So speaking practically, I question whether a new category for “true automation” would serve a good purpose if it will rarely be used, and perhaps appreciated only by a few people.

    That is of course in addition to what other people have already said, in particular the difficulty of categorization. I do use scheduled and timed events heavily in my X10 system. Would that make it “true” automation? What if I accomplished the same thing with off the shelf, plug-in mechanical timers instead, still “true”? If so, there’s a timer in my coffee pot, does that make it an automation device too? And so on.

    • notdave says:

      you can address the concerns you mention with a complex rule system and enough sensors.

      with lighting specifically you can augment fully automated lights with smaller accent LEDs with PIR for those ‘night’ modes where you might not want the normal ‘daytime’ behavior.

      presumably your brain/controller can understand what time it is, if you are deviating from your normal usage patterns, what the existing light level and switch status IS in that room, whether motion is detected in other rooms, perhaps whether or not youve engaged an override mode via wall controller…

      if you spend enough time (read: lots) covering all of the use cases, writing the logic (read: lots of code) and investing (read: lots of money) in the sensors it can be done!

      • montrough says:

        > … room occupancy

        Room occupancy is more difficult than it seems it should be. The problem comes it that the end user wants 100% accuracy. We can get close with creative software and at least 2 different kinds of sensors. The issues are when we cover corner cases, the expense, pets & children and SAF (spouse acceptance factor, should rename that to User Acceptance Factor – UAF).

    • notdave says:

      to address your numbered concerns specifically:

      1) easy. set a timer based on threshold of percentage of motion. compare this with the existing light level in the room, you may not want the light to turn on at all in these cases. do not turn the light on immediately after leaving to room to ensure there is no occupancy and wait on a short timer to determine if its ok to turn off the light.

      2) again, light and motion sensors go a long way, you may not need to turn the light on. additionally if you have a sensor (or some other way) of detecting the power being consumed in your viewing area or the state of your media machine, you can glean information about whether your gear is on and in use. sleeping is a little more difficult, but you could have a ‘sleep’ scene/override you press before you turn in for the night that completely changes the logic/behavior of any automation.

      3) said override could be lifted when light levels increase naturally, or based on network time to automatically revert to daytime modes.

      4) the idea and brilliance of a complex system and nailed down UX is about not NEEDING to know how it works. it just works and its magic. one would still want to retain manual overrides of switches to do as they please. your controller would be aware of the manual light switch press and could adjust logic for that room accordingly. if this doesnt work for you, you could also have a ‘guest’ mode where everything goes to manual control.

      5) i think you get it by now.

  16. MrFluffy says:

    I am tinkering in this space currently, the way I see it what marketing call automation, is actually the start of automation, the building blocks. The trick is to not buy into a proprietory system that chains you into their system only.
    I have some of my lights and a rain sensor controlled by ethernet relay and data aquisition boards by denkovi (daenet1 and 2’s) and that is the bare building blocks. It wouldnt be automation if I just used denkovi’s webapp to switch them.
    Where it becomes automated, is I have these under control of freedomotic automation framework, and I can program actual automation using these building blocks. For instance a PIR in a room automatically turns on the light associated with it, or the rain sensor sends a event into the framework and I have my sunshade to automatically retract on rain, or it tweets me its raining so we can grab the washing in etc. I love the freedom to glue events together and have started teaching myself java to extend the framework to suit my circumstances.

    Automation is the introduction of intelligence and programability for the house to make automated but programmed decisions based on the input from automation hardware.

    http://www.freedomotic.com for the software if your interested, its open source, my only concern is its written in java as I am a old unix greybeard, but I have it compiling under maven under bash, and its running on my dedicated home automation server – a raspberry pi :)

    My relay boards are from Denkovi, Ive had some really great experiences with Borislav Denkovi and his customer service so far, but we’re still trialing the hardware in various places throughout the house.
    https://www.denkovi.com/

    The coffepot on a timer mentioned by another is mechanical automation, Its still automation, even if the programming is done by a mechanical device.

  17. Whatnot says:

    I never have a need to control my home when I’m out, so it sort of seems pointless to me to automate your home.
    I do however use some RF-remote-control switches.
    And of course a PIR sensor light is also handy, but all these you use while in the home (or garden), and I’m not sure it falls under automation since apart from the PIR it’s manually controlled units.

  18. nes says:

    So, does anyone know of an open source alternative to ZigBee for creating mesh networks for proper home automation? Ideally it should do automatic packet routing, node authentication, fully encrypted channels, frequency hopping, acknowledgement of reception. Does anything like that exist? If not it needs to be done as ZigBee itself isn’t open source friendly.

  19. replic8tor says:

    Home Automation has come to mean wireless/centralized control as the article mentions. In my mind it was always two categories that have been used incorrectly: Smart Homes; i.e. the things that are convenient like centralized controls and Home Automation; i.e. those things that are controlled automatically.

  20. M H says:

    Call it all automation.
    Even a “simple” electric light or, even better, a hot water tap represent high degrees of automation. (And yes, I mean automation/autonomous/do all the grunt work and make it happen magically type automation.)

    Consider – a simple action like turning on a switch or opening a valve delivers energy, harvested from a nuclear furnace, converted, stored, regulated, etc. transported to where you are, where it automagically produces light or hot water. (In the water case, water is also automagically delivered where you want it.)

    This level of automation is so common in industrialized areas that people can forget that it is even automation. Having to split and carry wood for the fire, pump and carry water, heat water on a stove, fill the wash tub, … gives more of an appreciation for everyday home automation.

  21. repollo says:

    Home automation, in a sense should only be the part where all systems-on-infrastructure(or i.e. systems-on-house) work together in orchestra to provide an environment where alive organisms can take advantage of; or make-easier to interact in a way that makes its occupants prosper and ascend to a better yet unrealized aspects of commodity life.

    Evolution not Injection:

    Right now there are lots of injected gadgets that make things turn on and off by APIs and the like, but no one has of yet designed a system where an occupant of such technologies can really benefit to make his life easier(not-have-to-move-a-muscle). The gadgets of today can get a lot more automaton-like if they had more software in it, probably someone can benefit from an exhausting day of work by an awaiting hot shower(we turn off our in-line water boiler). Or turning on/off a heater before and after someone arrives or leaves. Cleaning and drying clothes by itself should be considered to. This is real automation. And yet it is all injected technologies on top of the technology that’s already installed. This will keep the prices to such technologies in a margin not reachable by everyone, like X10 protocols which are through the roof. It should be taken into consideration that the existing technology in the infrastructure industries is really analogous/antiquated, since it only does a handful of tasks, this are, power management(analogously), turn things on/off, routing, and the like.

    Now the most advanced part of this, is the routing part, which is “concentrated/centralized”, the circuit breaker panel, here the infrastructure can be managed as a whole, but just turning things/parts on/off. Instead if there is a smart-breaker, one that could connect to a data network, and transmit packets through the whole system, without the implementation of more cables or devices but rather interchanging the existing ones for a more “developed” ones, all there be needed would be software. Transmitting data over-power-lines is not new but is a slowly growing industry, PRIME Alliance are doing everything they can to establish a standard, but as anyone over 25 should know by now, you can’t develop a standard from scratch, you need to build it slowly and steady through trial-and-error.
    (Just look at the Personal Computer history. It wasn’t till two companies revolutionized the industry that the standard for PCs were established. Now ALL computers are the same, some more faster than other ones.)

    Anyhow, knowing where this subject is going it would be best to define the next generation of this technology, “smart homes” or “smart environments”, where it can define, change and accommodate environment variables. For example letting someone know what his eating habits are, make a diet plan that can accompany him everywhere(mobile device). Make assessments on its occupants, helping with their work, their health, their lifestyles, their relationships, etc.

    To get here once the backbone of the automatic-infrastructure is implemented, the only thing to need for a smart-environment, would be the software part, a computer that can connect to the breakers. It could be even a RPI with some kind of server like Juju, which is super easy to implement and run. The advantage of this type of software is the simplification of software implementation(Charms). Still everyone has recognized the whole downside of Ubuntu Software(Amazon).

    I hope all this blabbering sheds some light into what needs to get done, so everyone can benefit.

    BTW, this technology will put the privacy issue in another level.

  22. Karl Miller says:

    Socrates said, “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” In this context:
    Control – allowing one to control something on demand, by personal decision
    Automation – not the system letting you control something easier, but the system “automates” tasks for you, improving quality of life by learning about your habits, observing trends and making distinctions about how to preemptively take control for you, so you don’t have to. If I have to reach for my phone to affect a change, it ain’t automation.
    Improved quality of life is the purpose, not getting a cool way to turn on the sprinkler.
    That can take place as improved energy costs, less effort to go about your daily routine, suggesting things you wouldn’t think of.
    In life, it NEVER serves anybody’s purpose to muddy terms for the sake of convenience. Marketing suffers, customers don’t get what they want, innovation doesn’t happen because nobody knows where to draw the lines.

    You know how teachers say there are no stupid questions? Well, I’m not sure they are right in this case.

    • Butterfly23 says:

      “In life, it NEVER serves anybody’s purpose to muddy terms for the sake of convenience. ”

      So why are you trying to redefine a term which has been used for several decades to encompass remote control?

      • noptuno says:

        @Butterfly23: I don’t think his trying to redefine a term, but more like over stating a distinction.

        @Karl Miller: “Improved quality of life is the purpose, not getting a cool way to turn on the sprinkler.”

        The only issue with that, is just going to endanger a lot of markets, like, Universities for example, if you want to learn how to cook you would do it from the convenience of your home, since your house is smart enough to let you know how your grabbing a knife, what temps is your stove/oven at, etc. And if video walls get more popular and cost effective is only a matter of time.

        On the Privacy side, it will get to a whole new dimension since it can sell in-house personal data to intelligence companies, and not only that, imagining is a company who establishes the technologies, they can even manipulate all of your habits. So it would be better for this technology to get Open Sourced as soon as possible.

      • Karl Miller says:

        The term “home automation” may have an inferred meaning in YOUR head the idea of including the concept ONLY of remote control, however the English language, does not imply that limitation, nor is its definition. Many have used that term loosely to refer to their products that have the limitation of just remote control because they couldn’t provide anything more to the average home owner. In the beginning of the whole movement to provide different levels of automation to the home, the pioneers expressed clearly, at many conferences I was part of, expressed that the goal of the standards that were started (like X10 and different wiring schemes) were meant to provide a transport and control mechanism as the first step to what was being envisioned as a (over used term) “Jetson’s-style” lifestyle where the home anticipates and automates work for you. The problem has been up until very recently, that ubiquitous proliferation of devices with one standard or another (or with gateways and software to aggregate them all) have been allusive. Now that almost all electrical and mechanical devices in the home can be controlled, have its state observed, and most human activity (video, sound, action, and data traffic patterns) can be observed to learn about behavioral patterns, and all this with few varieties of competing standards in devices (such as Zigbee, or Z-wave), AND sensors are so cheap, …now everyday folks can afford to use these devices, and software like OpenHAB and OpenRemote can finally get the layers built on top of them to actually “AUTOMATE” the tasks of everyday life (and NOT have the user use thirty-two different frickin’ phone apps to do it yourself).
        The delusion that control is automation is no longer necessary, which is why the Gartner group is recognizing that IoT is one of the top trends for 2014 (worth trillions).
        BUT WAIT!!! If you want to keep contributing to the short-sighted, and dwindling profit basis of systems that just allow remote control, then, YES – you are absolutely right. I’ll just move forward with better information about what is actually happening, and what my customers actually want, and console them when they complain about why they wasted so much time with those simpleton push-button light switches operated by a phone app. We’ll have a big laugh, about it while we sip our drinks that we have the time to drink on the patio because the house is doing the rest of the work for us.
        HAHA – you loose!

  23. Kyle of the Squirrel says:

    Rechristen is HAARC; Home Automation and Remote Control.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 91,338 other followers