Home automation technology is out there, but barely anybody uses it. Sure, there are lots of home automation products, and serious fans. Nevertheless, the average home stays prominently manual.
To your average Silicon Valley engineer, the reason is obvious: lack of standards.
The issue is that different home automation products use different, incompatible and frequently proprietary technologies to make their magic occur. If you purchase two products from two companies, they usually won’t work together. Standards groups such as Z-Wave and Zigbee Alliance have attempted to create industrywide standards but have been ineffective so far.
The computer technology businesses are now rushing into this vacuum of standards to provide them. Leading the charge is none other than Microsoft. Best known as the manufacturer of the Windows operating system for personal computers, Microsoft views the entire home as a “computer” and is creating a working system for this.
Microsoft’s HomeOS, since it is called, is designed to bring law and order to the lawless frontier which is home automation. Perhaps most importantly, there are indications that Microsoft’s HomeOS will encourage existing standards, so even home automation goods already bought may utilize HomeOS.
How can HomeOS work?
The majority of us don’t have to think about what makes a computer system triumph, but Microsoft does.
Computers have a working platform, which can be software that orchestrates interaction between the hardware and the application program. By way of instance, you’re reading this with a web browser or in a mobile program, both of which are application software applications. This program does not really put these words on your display. It sends requests to the operating system, which frees up all of the components necessary to show text and photos on a display.
Actually, many of the items that application software appears to do are in reality accomplished by the operating system.
That is one of the biggest benefits of Microsoft’s HomeOS. A number of the jobs that home-automation appliances may want to do can be done by HomeOS. Rather than each appliance manufacturer and software manufacturer reinventing the wheel, they can simply make requests of the HomeOS and have the job done for them.
That signifies a small company can create an appliance much more easily and reliably. Let us say, for instance, that a company wants to create and sell a lamp which dims when the TV is still on. Rather than needing to create the technology to know when the TV is on, the lamp manufacturer can simply utilize the printed instructions for HomeOS for being informed by the machine once the TV is still on.
A standardized platform boosts the automation of houses making it simpler for organizations to make home automation products.
The idea is that Microsoft will try to convince home-automation organizations to create both software and hardware that supports HomeOS. Consumers will get these goods, which are likely to comprise all of the items one might automate: sprinklers, lighting, home-entertainment systems, enthusiasts, doorbells, heaters, air conditioners, coffee makers, dishwashers, robotic vacuum cleaner and home security systems.
Along with products which encourage HomeOS, you would purchase a host, that would be a small computer system which everything would connect to, largely wirelessly. You would control your home automation with a wise phone. This really improves the experience, as as this picture shows, you can view camera feeds on your phone, which is probably going to be together with you.
And finally, the coolest thing of all : a HomeOS program store.
The HomeOS program store
So you’ve got your HomeOS server, and you’ve got some devices that encourage HomeOS. Now what? Microsoft is about to offer a HomeOS app store, where you can browse and download software which will automate your home.
This makes sense coming out of the world’s biggest software firm. This screen capture shows a control panel, where you are able to assess the status of all wise devices in the house. This was not created by Microsoft, but by a supporting partner for another platform that Microsoft makes. A “control panel” category of programs is merely one that is going to exist at the HomeOS app store.
By way of instance, some firm might offer an program that sets the video feed out of your security system up on the TV when it detects motion. Another firm might offer software that sends you a text message when someone arrives to a door. Another may develop software that plays music based on who’s in the area (by discovering your mobile phone).
Nobody knows what software will be available on the HomeOS app store. And that’s the point. Hundreds or thousands of software makers can provide more variety than any one company alone.
As one instance of a very favorable application, Microsoft researchers are developing something named HomeMaestro.
The HomeMaestro thought
A Microsoft research project named HomeMaestro is working on making it easier to control devices in your home.
The approach uses regular language, rather than complex controls. The idea is an old-fashioned if-then statement shared to basic software programming: If something occurs, then create something else happen.
At a video demonstration, HomeOS researchers utilize the easy instance of: “If I open the door, then turn on the lighting” This command is referred to as a rule, and it is controlled on your smartphone.
The HomeMaestro project does a neat trick. As you construct these rules, you use the action to alert the program. By way of instance, you tell the program to create a guideline. You then open the door. “The door opens” appears at the upper box.
Then you click the Then box, and then turn on the lamp. “Turn on the lamp” appears in the Then box. You conserve your principle, and automation has been set. Later on, when you open the door, the lamp will turn on.
The HomeMaestro project would have all home automation work this way — for instance.
While the door-and-lamp case is very simple, the rules for home automation could be very complex: Should I see a show, don’t record it. If the air temperature outside is below 50 degrees between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., turn off and warm up the car when I make coffee. When everybody is in bed, turn off most of the downstairs lighting and appliances.
The possibilities are infinite. Especially since the HomeMaestro project envisions social sharing of rules — a “rules store” where you are able to browse and download rules created by others for your own use.
When is HomeOS coming home?
Microsoft has been growing HomeOS for years and has been testing HomeOS in real houses. It is called on pupils and Microsoft programmers to create programs for the HomeOS app store.
Up to now, Microsoft has not announced a product launch date, pricing or other details, so that means we won’t see products available on the market this year. But with other competitors also preparing comparable offerings, such as search engine giant Google, I would be surprised if next year didn’t see a large launch of the new Microsoft HomeOS merchandise, and a tsunami of home appliances that encourage it.
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