Tuesday, January 17, 2006

CES Update

Excerpts from "Who has time for This"


Home automation includes the remote control, synchronization and monitoring of electronic products through wall switches, remote controls, phones, PDAs, PCs and web browsers. I observed this year at CES that home automation products have finally matured to the point where consumers can stitch together broad, integrated functionality in existing homes without having to pay $50,000+ for professional installation and programming.

(Yes, the X10 protocol has been around for 20+ years to cheaply control household elements over powerlines, but I and many others know from experience that X10 does not work reliably, especially in large homes or alongside increasingly common electronics that draw current even when turned off.)

The first step is to decide which electronics you wish to control--lights, media, climate control, sprinklers, shades, window cranks, thermostats, door locks, alarms, garage doors, etc. (For some of those elements, you will need to replace existing products with controllable ones.) Then select a control protocol that supports those devices through in-house powerlines or wireless -- such as Z-Wave, Zigbee or Insteon. (Since Z-Wave is furthest along, my firm Bessemer invested in Zensys, the Z-Wave chip vendor, as did Cisco.) Finally, buy and install products that control those elements using your selected protocol, such as wall switches, touch panels, remote controls, TV interfaces, key fobs, and PC application or widget.


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