Posted: March 1st, 2012 | Author: Chris Taylor | Filed under: Home Automation | No Comments »
As if home automation systems that control temperature, lighting and family entertainment weren’t enough, gadget fans can now optimise the perfect conditions for their swimming pools and spas.
A new mobile application from Zodiac Pool Systems named iAquaLink allows pool owners to monitor, adjust and control water conditions whilst on the move, making ideal for those who fancy a dip after work.
iAquaLink, available for both Apple and Android-based mobile devices, can even clean the pool for an owner by activating the filter pump when they’re away from home, reports Electronic House.
Hot tubs can also be fully programmed to carry out a number of functions. Users have full control over the how the pumps operate, the lighting conditions and temperature for example.
ZodiacPoolSystems.com explains that the iAquaLink installation consists of “connecting a small networking device (the IQ900 iAquaLink Web Connect Device)” of which a pool professional is recommended for installation.
In addition, it says that the device can be “mounted indoors or out, depending on specific site requirements as determined by a pool professional.”
For those lucky people that have more than one pool or hot tub to control, then iAquaLink can handle that too. It supports multiple locations through a single interface. Web users can even access the controls through web apps as opposed to mobile ones as well.
Posted: February 28th, 2012 | Author: Paul Smithson | Filed under: Home Automation | No Comments »
A senior Android executive has claimed that the future of home automation control will be mobile-based.
Andy Rubin, head of the Google-led mobile platform, told The Verge that the search engine giant has been putting together use cases to work out what consumers want from home automation and it appears the future will focus on mobile devices.
He accepted that home connectedness is nothing new, but Google intends to bring a level of “intelligence” to the field that pushes the industry forward and makes “the 20 screens you have in your home interoperate”.
“The thing that’s new for the home is the cloud – the services piece has never been thought of. All of our use cases have a services component,” said Mr Rubin.
Google’s Android@home project, announced last spring, has yet to unveil a really significant update, but the whole technology sector is likely to sit up and take notice when it does so.
The potential for using smartphones for controlling home automation systems was evidenced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, where the TazTag TPH-ONE was launched, according to Chip Chick.
Available to pre-order from March, it is the first Android phone that combines NFC, ZigBee and Secure Element technology. This would give it the capability to control home automation systems, as well as carry out mobile payments and interact with smart energy monitoring interfaces.
Posted: February 22nd, 2012 | Author: David Howells | Filed under: Home Robotics | No Comments »
Google looks set to make its first major leap into the world of augmented reality with its new “smart glasses”, pcmag.com reports.
Already being likened to a similar set-up seen in the ‘Terminator films’, Google’s new glasses could use augmented reality to stream real-time information from the internet directly onto the lenses.
The glasses, expected to retail at between £150 – £400, are said to look no different to standard, thick-rimmed spectacles that would normally be worn to correct visual defects. They have been likened to Oakley Thumps – sunglasses with built-in headphones already in circulation - by Google employees working on the project.
Once the glasses have become more widespread, it is thought they may be able to work in tandem with home automation; leaving users able to stream content from the internet onto the lenses, as well as information from their connected home appliances.
It is thought the spectacles will hit the market before the end of the year, although Google has yet to officially comment on the development.
With regards to controlling the device, the blog 9 to 5 Google has claimed: “The really cool bit: The navigation system currently used it a head-tilting-to-scroll and click. We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.”
Posted: February 15th, 2012 | Author: Chris Taylor | Filed under: Home Automation | No Comments »
Home automation developers Control4 has added 19 more languages to its popular MyHome application for Android devices.
The arrival of the MyHome for Android versions 2.1 to 4.0 means that more smart homeowners than ever using Control4′s systems can program in their ideal living conditions.
Such customisable features in the app include the ability to control lighting, temperature, security, music, movies and other entertainment devices, reports Automated Home.
Non-English speaking Android customers will also join the ranks of Apple iPad and iPod users, of which Control4 also builds apps for.
However, all users are warned that they must contact a Control4 dealer after downloading the app, as they are the only people authorised to enable the connected features, says Control4.com.
Users can either opt for a single-use ‘Device License’, allowing just one tablet, mobile or PC to do the tinkering, or a ‘Site License’, which enables “any number” of supported devices to function as an interface when they are connected to a single Control4 system.
The languages update is set to hit the market at the end of February. The supported languages will include: Chinese (simplified and traditional), Czech, English, French, German, German Swiss, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Thai, Turkish and Ukrainian.
Posted: February 13th, 2012 | Author: David Howells | Filed under: Home Automation | No Comments »
A family from Sheffield have lived in a futuristic house for a new Channel 4 documentary detailing what we can expect from home automation in the future, telegraph.co.uk reports.
‘Home of the Future’ follows the Perera family and their foray into a future-proof house. During the experience, they will test some of the most cutting-edge technology and see first-hand what properties may look like in the not-too-distant future.
Amongst the devices set up for them are a 3D printer, thumbprint-reading door locks and touch-screen controls for many of their household items. The fridge is even connected to the internet and the house required four miles of cabling to be installed in order to make everything work.
The family were then tasked with living in the home amongst the £250,000 worth of technology for six weeks.
Speaking of the revolution, 51-year old matriarch Michele explained how her first thought went to cleaning of the new, bright white goods.
“Where I’d had lots of colour in the house before, everything was white,” she told unrealitytv.co.uk. ”I’ve got six kids, four grandkids and two dogs and all I could think was, ‘How and I going to train them all to keep this clean?’”
Once she’d got used to the gadgets, Michele explained how she fell in love with them. She claimed that even without a house full of mod-cons, the experience has taught the family to be more energy efficient, something they will continue to do long into the future.
Posted: February 9th, 2012 | Author: David Howells | Filed under: Home Robotics | No Comments »
Scientists have broken the record for the world’s smallest laser, BBC News reports.
Home electronic devices could be revolutionised with the invention of a new laser which is just one fifteenth the size of the light waves it produces. The lasers, which the team fabricated a number of, were just 200 millionths of a millimetre high.
With lasers featuring heavily already in numerous home robotics devices, including CD/DVD players and barcode readers, the new device could have a huge effect on devices of the future. With lasers being able to carry great amounts of information much faster than traditional semiconductors, the new device could make for much faster computers or bring about a greater dependence on “optical computing”.
The new laser works at room temperature and at the colours of light used in telecommunications.
Speaking to digitalhen.co.uk of the research, lead author Dr Mercedeh Khajavikhan explained: “Most people are familiar with co-axial cables that bring TV signals to their homes.
“What they may not be be very familiar with is that co-axial structures can support a [laser beam], no matter how much they are shrunk in size. We feel this is just a beginning of a new family of light emitters with superior characteristics, and many advances in this new area are yet to come.”
Posted: February 6th, 2012 | Author: Chris Taylor | Filed under: Home Automation | No Comments »
A new home automation device looks set to blur the boundaries of real life and the web by performing useful functions when provoked by outside stimuli.
The gadgets, named Ninja Blocks, have the ability to “talk” to web apps and online services, allowing them to receive communications from users connected to the internet. By using a simple, “if this then that” type instruction, Ninja Blocks can carry out a user’s command when they aren’t at home.
An example given on NinjaBlocks.com explains that if a user were to take a picture on an internet-enabled camera, then the Ninja Block could upload that image to Dropbox if it detected movement using its built-in sensors.
In a similar fashion, PCWorld.com says that a user could progam an air freshener to release its smell when a user gets a mention on a social networking site.
Other actions include “display text on an LCD display” and “send an SMS to my phone”, adds ZDNet Australia.
Because each Ninja Block comes equipped with an LED, a temperature sensor, an accelerometer, and various connector ports, they are able to detect a range of stimuli, or “triggers”.
The open source hardware behind the technology is backed by a web service called the “Ninja Cloud” and enables users to create a series of if this then that commands depending on their personal preferences.
Ninja Blocks currently supports actions with a number of popular online services like Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Google Docs, SMS, and Xbox Live. However its creators intend to add support for more services later on.
Cash for further development of the project, created by a trio of Australians, is being sought via the crowdsource fundraising site Kickstarter. So far, it has raised $44,780 with donations from 284 users, smashing the initial target of $24,000.
Posted: February 2nd, 2012 | Author: Chris Taylor | Filed under: Home Automation | No Comments »
The long-awaited motion-sensing and voice-recognition device by Microsoft, Kinect, is finally available to Windows PC customers.
Bundled in with the revolutionary 3D motion tracker, originally designed for games use, will be a software development kit (SDK or “dev kit”), reports CNet.
Microsoft chiefs added a commercial version of the dev kit after being impressed by the wide range of applications that users found for the XBox 360 gaming version of the versatile device. Some modifications made by users, who are commonly referred to as “modders”, included home robotics and home automation applications.
Demonstrating just a few examples of the technology’s scope, Microsoft released a teacher manipulating images with the night sky, and people playing “instruments without the instrument”, says PC World. It additionally showed a doctor flipping through x-ray images without touching them.
However, due to the creative and near-unlimited flexibility of the device, which can recognise objects as close as 40cm away, customers can expect a hefty price tag.
Home buyers can expect prices from around $249 (£157), much more than the original Xbox version $130 (£82), while academic users can expect to pay around $149 (£94).
Justifying the cost when speaking to the BBC, Kinect for Windows’ general manager Craig Eisler explained that the company subsidised the Xbox version knowing that they could recoup the cash through Kinect game sales.
“It’s been just over a year since we launched Kinect for Xbox 360, and we’re only starting to scratch the surface of what’s possible,” said Mr Eisler.
“The sky’s the limit. We’re doing a testing and adoption programme with 300 companies around the world. They’re doing things that we would never think of – from the oil industry, to training, to manufacturing,” he added.
Posted: January 25th, 2012 | Author: Deborah Bates | Filed under: Home Automation | No Comments »
For owners of a Near Field Communications (NFC) smartphone, keyless homes could become a reality; making the latest development in the world of home automation.
That’s according to Forbes.com, which reported that Yale Lock has designed a keyless lock. Its embedded NFC technology means anyone with a phone of this type could potentially utilise the lock, as well as any friends or family members.
A spokesperson for Yale Lock, general manager Jason Williams, explained: “We are all using smartphones in our lives and keyless entry is just another way we can use our phones to make our lives easier, convenient but also secure.”
Although such technology seems to be “the stuff you see in the best spy films”, according to ewallstreet.com, it can now be a reality for millions of people around the world. By the end of 2012, Forbes predicts that anyone with an Android or Blackberry device will be able to take advantage of these locks and as more mobile manufacturers catch on, so will users of other smartphones.
Some 100 million NFC phones are expected to be bought this year, so the potential audience for Yale is overwhelming. Those worried about the potential problems associated with such technology – like what would happen if the power goes out – need not worry, as Yale has confirmed that there are “two fail safe entry methods” for times when the power isn’t working properly.
Posted: January 23rd, 2012 | Author: David Howells | Filed under: Home Robotics | No Comments »
2012 has been hailed as the year humans will be able to have a “proper” conversation with a robot, spikednation.com reports.
Conversation has long been established as one of the key measurements for artificial intelligence, with scientists striving to create a device that would make it impossible to tell if the responses were coming from a robot or another human being.
Now, with advances in the form of Siri bringing this technology to a wide audience, experts believe 2012 will be the year full conversation between robots and humans fully takes off.
The technology – in use since the origin of Cleverbot in 1997 - is expected to make a huge impact on day-to-day lives, as home robotics devices can be programmed by voice, offering real and informed interaction that will relate directly to the command given.
In light of the developments, forecasters have expected that the annual Loebner Prize, which offers a $25,000 (£16,000) prize for the first programme to convince judges they are conversing with a real human, could be claimed in 2012. So far, it has gone unclaimed for 20 years.
Writing for guardian.co.uk, author and tech expert Jon Ronson explained: “For human-computer conversations, 2012 is going to be a great year.
“We might actually start having proper, fluent exchanges with robots, chatting away as if we’re the same species.”