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    The Bungee Line was an audio podcast for web developers, covering web API's, software development, and the creation of richly interactive web applications.

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Home Automation: A New Frontier

A vast new technological field stretches ahead of us, and for me in particular. I’ve just joined Control4, a company creating advanced home automation solutions. Now I’m going through the steps to ready my house for some awesome new features.

Some of the things I want to do include:

  • Lock up the house, but make it easier for my family to get in. When I leave the house, I want the confidence that the house is secure because I have contact sensors to tell me what door or window is open, and automated deadbolts to remotely lock the doors. Modern deadbolts have programmable keypads, allowing codes for different people.
  • Stream Video to any room so that my wife doesn’t have to be chained to the TV room to watch televised murder trials and Vinnie Politan’s courtroom analyses. (There are real life men named “Vinnie.” Who knew?)
  • Light pathways for when I wake up, so that I can more easily do my fumble-stumble routine (which consists of fumbling around for my pajamas, and then stumbling around as I herd the dogs from our bedroom to the back door downstairs). Current non-dimmable light switches make for jarring light, and many of our switches are hard to find in the dark.

These are just a couple examples of what Control4 can do. So, I thought I might start explaining how I am working to make this happen. In my next post, I’ll cover the foundation of a home automation solution: the network.

4 Responses

  1. Here’s a topic for you to cover: automating the garage door. I had a working solution, but it wasn’t perfect and then one of my resistors fried. It was able to monitor state of the garage door being open or closed. After 9pm, it would send me a Twitter DM indicating that the door was ajar. I was using a raspberry pi and range detector sensor to measure distance. (it would detect either the garage door or fail to get a reading if open).

    Once that’s perfected, it would be nice to open/close from a mobile device.

    • Hey, Alan!

      You might check out wireless contact sensors. There are various options out there, depending on the system that you use. For a Control4 system, there is a garage door package that covers it. But even with a home brew system, you might be able to get a wireless Zigbee sensor to send state to a Raspberry Pi with a ZigBee module.


      • I bought a NinjaBlock (http://shop.ninjablocks.com/products/ninja-blocks-kit) a while back and have been thoroughly disappointed with the range. The concept is great, but can’t seem to go through walls. They have a few types of sensors for cheap, but that doesn’t make up for their shortcomings.

        I’ve looked at ZigBees and Xbees and Z-wave, but haven’t purchased any. I really like the idea of mesh networking and home automation seems a great use for it.

        I just looked into Control4 a bit, but they don’t look homebrew friendly. 😦

      • Indeed, while some find their way to do DIY with Control4, as a company Control4 works exclusively through a professional dealer channel.

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