As hobbyists, we’ve been resourceful when it comes to managing our systems. From the simple use of lamp timers to complex X10 systems to modern day controllers and iPhone apps, we as hobbyists like to push the envelope and do creative mods to try and make our lives simpler. Home automation has been a topic we’ve covered quite a bit over the past few years and while we get excited when we hear about the dream coming closer to a reality, we are beginning to wonder if 2012 will be the year home automation becomes a mainstream reality.
Tech tradeshows have been hyping these types of products for years and while last year Google teased us with Android@Home and we even had the Actiontec MegaPlug to network our aquarium controller to the interwebz and a slew of proprietary apps and controllers that may not play nice with the other parts of our homes. Even early on in 2012 we are seeing two interesting products entering the consumer marketplace. First off we saw the Belkin WeMo system at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month and this week Creston is showing a more robust “Apple-like” system at Macworld this week.
Why does having mainstream success have an impact on our hobby? The simple answer is economy of scale and availability of more robust technology allowing the hobby to build upon what is already out there and ensuring our aquariums lighting system, home furnace and sprinkler system can all be monitored and controlled remotely. Besides having one gateway, one system, one dashboard makes things a lot easier and the benefits of automation can be spread around the entire homestead.
The two systems — Belkin’s WeMo and the Creston — are vastly different with the Belkin system spearheaded for simple applications that don’t break the bank and Creston is looking to offer a more robust offering.
Currently the Belkin WeMo system is using a series of motion sensors and power outlet adapters that connect to your home’s wireless network. While having motion sensors attached to your lights might make sense in the fish room, there is promise in having the ability to tap into more advanced home automation features where you can control what turns on and off with specified parameters and being able to control it all through a web connection or application.
The price looks right too with power outlet adapters selling for $50 when they’re available in May and motion sensors coming in at just $10 more. This is also a great option for renters who aren’t willing to sock a lot of money into a more permanent solution but who are looking to take advantage of automation.
Cresten is taking the Apple approach of building the hardware and the software to ensure they are getting a quality system that does play nice with each other. While this may be a good fit for those of you with a higher budget, the fun aspect of this is the technology integrates well with Apple’s iOS allowing you to monitor and control the products through an iPhone or iPad app. The company even mentioned in the Macworld article about clients using the system to automate feeding the fish. Granted I can think out hundred of other hobby applications I’d rather automate but the technology is promising.
Either way the market goes, having standards and inter-connectivity of devices and products will make entire home automation a reality and we’re hoping it can be intuitive enough to be able to program and utilize off-the-shelf mainstream technology in a simple way to create a more robust aquarium automation system that won’t break the bank and can all be controlled from your device of choice.
Here is a fun video of what happens when the sky is the limit and you are doing a statement installation at Trump Tower in New York.