Feeds

The Hardware Hacker's Guide to Home Automation

Doctorin' the house

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

But what’s it for?

But whether you go for a long-established system with a wide range of plugs, sockets, dimmers, switches and a controller, or something newer, one thing soon becomes abundantly clear: home automation can be an expensive business, especially if you want to go the whole hog and have things like touchscreen panels to control your lighting.

Home automation used to be thought of as something to save time and labour – open the curtains when you’re still in bed, for example. But as many of us become more conscious of issues from home security to energy usage – you don’t have to be a paid up member of the Greens to be horrified by your electricity bills – there are perhaps other ways in which HA tech can be useful.

Nest Labs' The Nest

Nest Labs' Nest thermostat can calculate your most efficient energy use pattern

Smart thermostats like Nest Labs' Nest can learn about your routine, or sensors around the home can ensure lighting turns off when it’s no longer needed.

Automatic monitoring – I’ll skip the connected fridge; check out my feature WTF are… connected appliances – can keep an eye on oil tanks and place orders, while security systems can let you know that the kids are safely home from school, all while you’re still at work.

They can you to movement caught on a camera. If you have a Synology nas box, for instance, then you already have surveillance software - it's just waiting for you to attach an IP camera.

Roll your own

If you’re of a more technical bent, it’s not too difficult to come up with your own automation and control projects, even without investing in dedicated controllers.

For example, the Topfield TF5800 PVR is a Freeview recorder with a published API which includes a way to set timers. A few years ago, I created a service to allow timers to be set via SMS, so a user could send a text like ‘TOPPY RECORD BUFFY / BBC1 AT 1900 to a shortcode. The SMS provider, iTagg, then delivered it to a URL where it was stored in a database. A script on a PC then polled the website, and transferred a control file to the recorder via USB if there were new timers to set.

Heatmiser PRS-TS WiFi RF Thermostat

Take greater control of your energy use with a Wi-Fi thermostat, like the Heatmiser

Or take a device like the HeatMiser WiFi thermostat recently reviewed here. The protocol has been published, and there’s open source code to talk to it. By using the LocationOf.com app on a Symbian phone, I can work out when I’m more than a certain distance away from home, and ensure the heating is turned off.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Hi-torque tank engines: EXTREME car hacking with The Register
Bentley found in a hedge gets WW2 lump insertion
What's MISSING on Amazon Fire Phone... and why it WON'T set the world alight
You fought hard and you saved and earned. But all of it's going to burn...
Trousers down for six of the best affordable Androids
Stylish Googlephones for not-so-deep pockets
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.