Archive for the ‘Smart Building’ Category

Home networking with Zigbee

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

For the last few years, we’ve witnessed a great expansion of remote control devices in our day-to-day life. Five years ago, infrared (IR) remotes for the television were the only such devices in our homes. Now I quickly run out of fingers as I count the devices and appliances I can control remotely in my house. This number will only increase as more devices are controlled or monitored from a distance.

To interact with all these remotely controlled devices, we’ll need to put them under a single standardized control interface that can interconnect into a network, specifically a HAN or home-area network. One of the most promising HAN protocols is ZigBee, a software layer based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. This article will introduce you to ZigBee—how it works and how it may be more appropriate than simply accumulating more remotes.

Why so many remotes? Right now, the more remotely controlled devices we install in our homes, the more remotes we accumulate. Devices such as TVs, garage door openers, and light and fan controls predominantly support one-way, point-to-point control. They’re not interchangeable and they don’t support more than one device. Because most remotely controlled devices are proprietary and not standardized among manufacturers, even those remotes used for the same function (like turning on and off lights) are not interchangeable with similar remotes from different manufacturers. In other words, you’ll have as many separate remote control units as you have devices to control.

Some modern IR remotes enable you to control multiple devices by “learning” transmitting codes. But because the range for IR control is limited by line of sight, they’re used predominantly for home entertainment control.

A HAN can solve both problems because it doesn’t need line-of-sight communication and because a single remote (or other type of control unit) can command many devices.


Automate Your Home

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

house_sky.jpgIt’s every nerd’s fantasy — a “smart house” that knows when you left the lights on and turns them off, adjusts the heat and A/C according to the outside temperature, closes the blinds in the afternoon sun and reminds you to get milk at the store.

It may sound like something out of a 1980s sci-fi movie, but it’s not as far-fetched as you think. In fact, home automation is a burgeoning market with all sorts of toys available.

For most part, it’s a playground limited to a few lucky dot-com millionaires. If you happen to have sold YouTube for a billion dollars, just find a contractor who specializes in this stuff and pretty soon an automated voice will announce when the milk is low.

Fortunately, the rest of us aren’t completely left out of the home automation fun. But this stuff gets pretty geeky pretty fast, and it definitely helps to have some background knowledge about electronics and networking before diving in.

Source: Bored IT

Home automation hits UAE

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Dubai_Desert.jpgSmart home, or intelligent homes, technology is no longer just for the technophile hobbyist. It’s right on the cusp of becoming mainstream.

Of course, some of this stuff has been around since the 1970s in the form of X10, the industry standard for TV remote controls.

But new wireless standards (like Insteon, ZigBee, and Z-Wave) and cheaper chipsets have enabled two-way, low-cost communication between devices.

Source: Gulf News

Home Automation Application for the iPhone

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Automated Home reports that Apple has selected home automation technology company iControl to receive part of the $100 million in Venture Capital set aside for the iFund. The new Home Security 2.0 product from iControl will be ported and expanded to operate on the iPhone.

The new application will allow users to control their home security panels, IP cameras, sensors, and Z-Wave-based home automation devices. This includes devices such as lighting, door locks, thermostats, and much more.  Further value is added with the addition of broadband and cellular communication to central monitoring stations, thus making Home Security 2.0 a powerful contender in the market. Read more on this article