Home Automation – What Is It?
Home automation is... <drumroll> automating your home. More specifically controlling devices within your home via some sort of interconnected electronic gadgetry.
There are many types of gadgets that you can control within your home...
and some which only provide information on which to base your control decisions...
- Electricity Usage
and then there are the gadgets which work in the background controlling the other gadgets on network and reacting to changes.
however in order to get them talking you'll need some way to allow them to connect together i.e. a network.
In order to connect your gadgetry together, so they can communicate, you'll need some kind of network, either wired or wireless. This could be via one or more of the following methods...
- Wired ethernet network
- Wireless ethernet network
- Over your house's power wiring
- An RF network
- Via a simple over-the-wire serial communications system such as RS-232 or RS-485
- Some other proprietary cabling system
Once you've chosen your network method or methods you will need to select the 'language' by which the data will be passed around the network i.e. the protocol.
A multitude of protocols have been designed for transmission over a network, mostly for the ethernet variety. These tend to be overly complicated for a simple home network scenario. They may require the use of embedded HTTP server or they are proprietary with very limited information, or not at the price a hobbiest automator is willing to pay i.e. somewhere around the zero mark.
However on the hobbiest side the two major protocols have been created. They are xAP and xPL, both of which were developed by people from the UKHA-D Yahoo Group (see the links in the sidebar.)
Once you've got a network and a protocol you'll need to send some information across, otherwise it doesn't make much sense to go to all the hassle.
Whether you want to control your lighting, heating or security or just to notify you of events you'll need some software, oh and some hardware to run it on.
Some software requires dedicated hardware to run (embedded onto the hardware or not) and some can run on commodity hardware.
For further information try the links on the right hand side or join the UK Home Automation Discussion group on Yahoo.
Warning: Make sure you leave your credit card at the door. Having one with you whilst trawling through the messages may be a very costly error.