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Nokia wants applications for its smart home box, but it's also sniffing around for companies interested in selling the Linux-based home-automation gateway with their own branding.

The Nokia Home Control Center (NHCC) is a Linux-based box incorporating a swath of wireless technologies, with room to add more, in the hope of becoming the home hub from which the pad of the future is controlled. Interfacing with a custom S60 client, or through a web interface, the box can take control of Zigbee, Z-Wave, KNX or proprietary devices to present a unified interface to the user who doesn't want everything depending on their Windows box.

If we accept that the home of the future is going to feature a large number of connected devices - door locks, light switches, alarms, and so forth - then there is a long-running debate about whether such a home will have a single point from which those devices are controlled. Microsoft would like that to be a Windows-based PC, while Apple has its own ideas. Nokia has jumped into the fray with its own box it hopes to sell with the aid of network partners such as mobile or broadband operators.

Those with short memories might have forgotten that Nokia used to make some of the best set-top boxes on the market, and demonstrated some impressive interactive-TV products before the last-crash-but-one. Of course, that was back when we thought people wanted the internet on their TVs, and Nokia was as beguiled by that vision as everyone else at the time.

Companies such as Alertme.Com are selling Zigbee-based home-automation products, with their own hub to manage them; but with different technologies being deployed around the home the idea of an open hub from a third party is attractive, just as soon as Nokia can find a killer application for it - which is the thing they'd like a little help with.

Interested parties can browse the technical details (pdf) and submit a proposal if they reckon they know just what Nokia should be doing with their resurgent set-top-box. ®

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