A Few Ideas for a Smart Home

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You arrive after an exhausting day at work and your home unlocks the door for you, turns on the lights and starts brewing your tea.

That’s not the stuff that science fiction is made of. A smart home can do all that and much more for you, here and now.

Microsoft's full-scale model home of the future shows how we can use today’s technology to have computers work not at our command, but on our behalf: watering the garden, putting together a  grocery list, suggesting recipes based on available ingredients in the pantry and refrigerator, etc.

With a computer, home automation software and a variety of wired or wireless devices, plus a bit of technical know-how, you too can create a home that does a smart thing or two. It would give you hours of creative fun and would not even cost you too much.

People who have tried their hand at DIY home automation recommend starting with a relatively simple project, like configuring your computer to control a hallway lamp. Your aim is to be able to turn the lamp on, shut it off and set its brightness from your PC.

The next step would be to make the lamp really smart – that is, capable of “sensing” its environment and doing all those things without you sitting at the computer and telling it what to do. If you successfully completed the first project, the second one should not pose too much of a problem. All you need to do is add a motion sensor to the set up – and there you are. Your PC will now be able to control the lamp according to your pre-set instruction and, for example, switch it on to 30 percent of brightness every time you get up in the middle of the night to go to the loo.

Your third DIY home automation project could be to configure a weekday wake-up ritual that’s guaranteed to make going to work an event to look forward to. For example: set your computer-connected coffeemaker to start brewing your morning cup of coffee at 6:30; schedule the light dimmer to gradually increase the brightness between 6:50 and 7:00; tell your system to start playing your favourite MP3s at exactly 7:00.

You can also have the computer automatically open your shades, turn on the shower, trigger a garage-door opener, start your car, and much more. All you need to do is keep adding more sensors and modules.

More advanced DIY home enthusiasts can move onto devising a button that wirelessly closes the curtains, dims the lights, starts a laser show and sets a fog machine in motion, all with one single touch. A must for creating the ultimate party atmosphere! (Tamer personalities may want to opt for a button that dims the lights, makes popcorn, and starts a movie.)

There you go. We supplied the ideas; the rest is up to you. Check the bidorbuy Home Automation section for the necessary tools and devices, and off you go. Transforming the above projects into reality should keep you amused for many Sunday afternoons to come.


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