A Smart-Home tips list

Over on MakeUseOf, Mihir Patkar spoke with Ben Stutt of Rock Hill, South Carolina, about his experiences with home automation. Ben has been working with X10 automation since the mid 1980s, and has some very useful information to share.

In a nutshell, his tips are as follows:

  1. Start by solving one single annoyance. A porch light, a garage door, it doesn’t matter, but start small.
  2. Beginners should use simple buttons, not complex systems and sensors. Similar to #1 – start simple.
  3. Always couple a motion sensor with a timer.
  4. Prepare for your own laziness/forgetfulness. Make simple all on/all off buttons, and use timers if you only use the device (i.e.bathroom fan) for a limited time.
  5. Automation helps in security. Both by having security integrated into the system, and by automatically turning lights on and off, making the house feel alive.
  6. X10 is great to set up a cheap Smart Home. Other systems are available, but X10 is by far the cheapest.
  7. Powerline systems have their problems. In the US, we have 240V coming into our home, which is then split into 2 120V circuits. This is easily fixed by placing a bridge somewhere, such as a plugin bridge at the dryer outlet. But it’s something to keep in mind.

For the full article, click here.

Microsoft’s vision of how we will work and live in the future

Microsoft is working on its view of the future. This is a video of how Microsoft envisions Office in the (near?) future, and how it impacts our work and home live. Pay close attention to the recipe the girl selects at the end – it shows the ingredients being displayed on the kitchen counter. What it leaves out is something I’ve seen in another video, where the ingredients are put on the counter, matching the displayed ingredients – and it detects mismatches in the items.

Exciting to see this kind of vision, and I’m really curious how far away this is. We have face to face talk, interactive surfaces, touch screens, etc. Maybe 10 years from now, this will be the norm…