The Rise of Home Automation

February 1st, 2013

HomeOS is based on existing Windows software and described in the white paper as "a kernel that is agnostic to the devices to which it provides access, allowing easy incorporation of new devices and applications." ; According to Microsoft, the system "runs on a dedicated computer in the home (e.g., the gateway) and does not require any modifications to commodity devices." ; While Microsoft's vision for the future continues to get a lot of attention, they are certainly not the only company trying to develop a centralised system for home controls and automation. ;

Standards like Z-Wave and Zigbee Alliance already offer common systems for controlling security systems, lights, thermostats, and other devices. ; However, these standards are not wide spread and do not offer as much communication between devices as some users would like. ; A recent study forecasts the global smart homes market to reach $13.4 billion by 2014, growing by 16.5% from 2009 to 2014. ; Despite this trend however, it is still difficult to define the industry as a whole, with a number of companies offering systems that give real time control over a single aspect of the household. ;

For example, central remote controls are one example of how a single device can be used to control a range of entertainment systems, with some devices also offering control over environmental factors such as lighting and temperature. ; Wireless technology has become a big part of home control and automation, with set top boxes, gaming systems, and domestic Internet networks increasingly wireless and accessed through a single screen. ; Another example of integration is the increasing communication between domestic security and lighting systems. ;

Despite being reliant on electricity, home automation systems are increasingly being designed to turn down the lights, manage environmental systems, and reduce energy waste in our homes. ; According to GMT research, the market for home area networks and home energy management will increase by 90 percent between 2011 and 2015, with systems increasingly designed to integrate lighting, temperature, and security with a view to reducing energy use. ; With a vision to improve our efficiency and enhance our daily lives, home automation is slowly moving from a 'strange new world' to a new kind of normal.