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Guide: Levels of Home Automation - Part IV by Larry Kasevich

Levels of Home Automation

Level 4 Interactive

Up to this point, the manual control of devices comes from a controller consisting of buttons or switches. While the controller may be a keypad, remote control, touch panel, or a sensor, the interface is not interactive. Interactive interfaces comprise the Level 4 system.

With an interactive system, the user can not only give command, but also see status of the system. Level 4 systems include the ability to interface with the system via a computer, web site, voice recognition, instant messenger, email, telephone, or other system. There are only a few systems available that can do this type of interaction. These are almost always computer based. Again, HomeSeer is a fabulous product that can do all of these things.

Here are some exciting examples of what you can do with an Interactive controller:

  • Access your lights and appliances via a web page (DSL/Cable Modem required), email, or MSN messenger
  • Let the computer talk to you telling you the status of doors, windows, and motions sensors.
  • Program your VCR through the Web
  • Have the system dial a phone number based on a name you speak.
  • Set a timer by voice command. ("Timer - Practice Piano, 30 minutes", "Timer - Check the grill, 10 minutes")
  • Create a shopping list by speaking to the system as new items come to mind, then when you are ready to go shopping, ask the system to print the list.
  • Ask computer to list what is on TV tonight.
  • Receive an email at work when motion is detected inside or outside your house.
  • Voice announcing that "There is someone in the driveway", "...at the front door", "... at the back door"
  • Monitor activities in the house remotely via MSN Messenger.
  • Call you at work if your child doesn't come home at the expected time.
  • Monitor the activity of an elderly person remotely. (Using a network of sensors in the elderly's home, the system would be smart enough to detect un-ordinary patterns such as prolonged inactivity or absence, and keep track of ordinary ones like eating, sleeping, and greeting visitors.
  • Announce not only the weather conditions from your own weather station, but contact the weather service via the internet and speak the forecast.
  • Add Outlook appointments by speaking them
  • Inform you of the current stock prices via voice, email, or MSN Messenger.
  • Have your Outlook appointments read to you at your command.
  • Ask the computer to list the day's news headlines.
  • Talk to your computer and have it execute commands, like controlling lights, getting the weather forecast, controlling the home entertainment system.
  • Pick up any phone in your house and interact with the system using the touchtone keys or your voice.

HomeSeer Screen Shot

HomeSeer Web Page with Status and Control Capability - Click for larger image

This article was published on Monday 10 January, 2005.

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