Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Inside an iPad-Controlled Home

Friday, April 9th, 2010

By Steve Crowe
09 April 2010

Lifeware system can be controlled via two iPads for lighting, security, entertainment and more.

iPad-Controlled Home

Apple sold more than , and reports say more than 600,000 have been sold in the first six days.

But how many iPads are being used as the primary interface in a fully automated home?

Paul Hughes, president and founder of Lincroft, N.J.-based HomeBase Systems, claims to have installed the first “fully deployed, working” iPad-controlled home automation system. (See video and photos of the system below).

The residence in Ringwood, N.J., employs a Lifeware automation system that can be controlled via two iPads and one iPhone. The devices can command lighting (individual lights or lighting scenes), security, HVAC, cameras, the pool, two iPod docks, two tuners, three media servers and a Russound audio system.

Hughes says that after the control system was functioning properly, it took only three hours to get basic functionality working on the iPads. He finished the iPad programming by 11:30 on Monday morning, only about 48 hours after Apple’s product launch. “We’re going to go back, of course, and tweak the [iPads] since it’s the first time out of the gate,” says Hughes.

iPad-Controlled Home Automation System
Hughes says the client doesn’t see the value in a dedicated touchscreen. Cost, multitasking and aesthetics were the main reasons for going with the iPad.”Why buy something for $5,000 that has one purpose, when you can buy something that has an infinite purpose for $500,” Hughes says. “It’s a no-brainer. And who wants an in-wall touchscreen that’s outdated the day you put it in? The iPad doesn’t need to go in-wall and won’t hurt the aesthetics of your home.”Count Hughes as one installer who doesn’t think iPads should be installed in the wall. “If something bumps the iPad, we now have an iPad broken on the ground or a docking port that’s mis-shaped and could potentially cause damage,” says Hughes. “The iPad functions well enough on its own, I’m not sure it needs to be wall-mounted. But if there’s a secure way to do that, we’d be open to looking into it.”Hughes says the client has already asked him to program two more iPads. “The client is looking at is this way: if two iPads cost $1,000 and one of them breaks or falls in the pool, it would be nice to have an additional one that would be cheaper than buying a touchpanel,” says Hughes. “If I had $5,000, I could buy 10 iPads instead of one touchpanel. Kind of makes touchpanels obsolete.”So how does Hughes think the iPad will affect the home automation industry?

“My plan is to sell many more automation systems,” he says. “The stumbling block for clients in the past hasn’t been the control system, it’s always been the cost of the user interface. With the iPad, this problem has been completely removed. This is a tremendous victory for the future of my business. I don’t have to sell expensive products that don’t multitask. And I get to charge each time I program an iPad or add one to the system.”





Security: SurveillanceShaker for iPhone released

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Finally . SurveillanceShaker is the iPhone version of SurveillanceSaver, which has been downloaded more than 50.000 times and covered by BoingBoing, TimesOnline, Financial Times, Wired, …


SurveillanceShaker brings more than 1000 CCTV cameras on the iPhone. It becomes an addictive live soap opera when watching places around the earth in real time and guessing what will happen next. You’ll see live images of streets and buildings but also surprising images of russian internet cafes, hotel lobbies, server rooms, barns with little pigs and many more. Just shake or double-tap your iPhone to switch to the next camera.


The iPhone App is based on our public-viewpoints project. public-viewpoints is a geo-webservice serving links to public CCTV cameras around the world. It allows queries for CCTV cameras via geo location (Lat / Long, Country, City) and returns GeoRSS, CSV or simply the link. public-viewpoints is a Google App Engine project written in Python.


The Future: Smart networking, LonWorks, the IP network, and open source computing are going to drive a different world

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


At Apple co-founder Mike Markulla’s Venetian Hotel-styled private theater in this posh Palo Alto suburb, the chairman of Sun Microsystems, makers of Java, and CEO of Duke Energy, makers of 36,000 megawatts of electricity in coal and nuclear plants, shared the stage.

The CEOs found common ground pushing a vision of the future where light switches are superfluous and any device that uses power is networked, easily automated, and far more energy efficient. Holding up a standard Sun identification card, Sun Chairman of the Board Scott McNealy noted that it was faster than an Apple II computer.

“We can connect anything that is more than a dollar in value,” he said.

But McNealy’s declaration that he was “over” the network was the real highlight of the hour-long event to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Markulla’s post-Apple endeavor, Echelon, which makes sensors and controls for all types of devices.

“I want my stuff to be on the network”   said McNealy.

Coming from the CEO of a company that once had the tagline, “The network is the computer,” the comment drew laughs from the small crowd. McNealy admitted that his statement probably was “not the best marketing thing.”


Beyond his glib distaste for social networking, McNealy and Jim Rogers, Duke Energy’s CEO, presented a serious case that the future of networking lies with your toaster, lights and curtains. By turning “dumb” devices into nodes on a smart network, the businessmen said that the entire economy could be restructured to use energy more efficiently.

“I believe the most energy efficient economy is going to be the one that provides the greatest standard of living for its people,” Rogers said.

Rogers also noted that utilities would have to redefine their businesses away from commodity power and start making money by helping their customers control, not just use, their electricity.

“I see embedded in every customer six to eight networks and on each network there’s three to five applications,” he said. “What if I create value by optimizing those networks and those applications?”

That’s a major change in thinking for utilities that previously considered their job finished when the electricity hit your meter.

Though they painted grand visions of what the future could hold, both executives said there were many challenges to be met in creating the network of things.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” McNealy said. “There’s a lot of work to take the complexity out of client devices and to take the cost out of client devices.”


Cost and complexity have slowed the adoption of home automation systems, but all three companies clearly see an opportunity to capitalize on the high cost of energy and increasing concern over carbon emissions.

McNealy even dropped Echelon’s protocol LonWorks into his solution for the future.

LonWorks, the IP network, and open source computing are going to drive a different world where per capita energy usage can plummet as green becomes the new black”, he said “And I mean black in terms of making money.”

Rogers’ vision was equally amibitious and showed that the North Carolina-based CEO knew his big-thinking Silicon Valley audience.

“At the end of the day, what I’m gonna provide is universal access to energy efficiency the way we provided universal access to electricity in the last century.”

Images: Jim Merithew. Top: Scott McNealy speaks to the crowd. Middle: The crowd is bathed in green LED light during a demo of the room’s fancy lighting system. Bottom: Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers lays out his plan for the future of a smarter electrical grid.