We may be seeing a new trend in home automation. As we know, Cali loves the idea of home automation, but with full systems costing thousands of dollars and requiring complex installation it can be a difficult dream. Aside from expense, home automation is further complicated by human interfacing. Using the main controller in the house can be difficult, expensive and often proprietary. Recently, advancements in the consumer electronics world have begun to change the future of home automation installation and operation, with tablet computers and wireless devices replacing complex systems wired to a central unit.
The first major improvement is in the home automation devices. These devices rely on wireless signals to go from piece to piece much like how an RF remote or your mobile phone can communicate data wirelessly. Each small unit is connected to one feature of your home automation. They act as masters and slaves and relay messages about whether the bedroom light is on or off, if the security system is armed, or the temperature of the jacuzzi. Plus, since 2006 they’ve been battery-free, using vibrations and changes in temperature to generate the small amounts of electricity needed to operate. The battery-free operation alone is pretty cool, but now they’ve added wireless transmission and sticky backs for easy installation!
The second advance is the addition of everyone’s favorite home accessory, the iPad (or iPhone or iPod Touch). Imagine you’re at a movie and afterward your friend wants to go eat. Need a security light on outside? Pull out your iPhone, open an app and presto, light is on. Are you imagining it? Pretty sweet right? A number of home automation groups thought so too. Now instead of single (or multiple) access points at anchored locations around the abode costing upwards of $3,000 per panel, you can travel with your iPad or iPhone and access your home automation system!
It’s a crazy idea, but the cost of the panels alone edges many users out of the market for home automation, not to mention the high cost of wiring the devices within your house. With a $500 iPad and a few of the battery-free, wireless devices from EnOcean you could have home automation on the cheap and in any house! According to Denver based Solstice Multimedia via TipB, “The dual iPad control system costs roughly $5,000,” which is significantly cheaper than the proprietary screen systems of the past.
These advances also make home automation a better deal for the environment than previously. With wireless devices, home automation installation doesn’t require the miles of cabling to connect everything in the house to the central computer. Additionally, the battery-free devices pull their power from the environment, meaning more efficient energy usage. Plus if you remember later you’d left a light on, you’ll have an app to turn it off!
While home automation is still a luxury item for most homeowners, this is yet more evidence of tablet devices merging further into our lives and how technology can simultaneously be good for our lives and the environment. Very cool stuff.
Here’s a video from EnOcean about using their technology to promote less energy usage, green buildings and overall cool and futuristic technologies…