10 More of Your Home Control Requests
Here are this week's highlights from your entries into the Electronic House and Control4 "What Do You Want to Control?" contest.
November 24, 2009 by EH Staff

Hopefully you have something to be thankful for this week. We’re thankful for all of our readers who continue to give us great suggestions about what they want to control in their home using automation.

That was the gist of our Electronic House and Control4 “What Do You Want to Control?” contest, and the 150-words-or-less submissions keep on coming. And because we can always learn a little from each other, we’ve been highlighting some entries each week. Here are 10 more for this week:

I find it hard to believe that we can regulate fresh air vs. recirculated air in our car, but not our home. It isn’t a stretch to control the outside temperature and humidity and allow for fresh air to come into the home without creating discomfort or excessive heating/cooling costs. If done properly it should actually lower heating/cooling costs. —Chris, N.C.

I would like my home automation to react to my retinal scan. All systems would be program to my specifications. Home theater programs to my FAV’s, lighting for my needs, blinds up as soon as my eyes open. Secure systems lock down when I’m in my bed for the night. Hollywood can dream up and put it in movies. Think ” Minority Report.” Technology can’t be too far behind. —Dina, Md.

My family and I have very simple requirements. Vacation: We would like to be able to go on vacation and leave the dogs in the home. I need to control cameras located internally and externally, automated dog door, dog feeder, water dispenser and automated collar. The cameras will allow me to watch the dog even if they are outside. The collar will allow them to enter in and out the dog door without setting off the alarm. The collar will also allow me to send a little message (shock) if the dogs don’t return inside the house. Media: Just the normal things, automate the HT for the wifey, so she can walk in and watch a movie without calling me. Kids: I need to be able to trust the kids while the wife and I are out and about. I want to control everything: TV, Doors, lights, and temperature. Security: I want to automate the cameras so when Santa or his elves decide to enter on my property to take there toys back, the camera zoom in and begin sending the feed to all the TVs, server for recording and be replayable via the iPhone. Jealousy: Need a message for people that walk in to say “don’t be jealous.” —Avery, Ga.

My mail box is at the end of the driveway, about 1/4-mile from my front door! I am too dang proud to back the car up to get closer, and I sure need the exercise, but I hate to walk all the way out there unless the mail has been delivered. If there was a buzzer or something on it, and a sensor, I would be assured of a fruitful trip. Not only that, but the cats laugh at me if I go out there for nothing. In fact, let’s go a step further and put a cam on it and maybe we can catch those doggone mailbox vandals! —Karen, Mo.

Ability to set up a system for real estate agents to initiate a command (via email, text message, web address, etc) to prepare a house for a showing. Currently, our house has been on the market for over a year, and each time there is a showing, we have to go through the house and turn on the lights, set the music to a certain level, etc. With the ability of a Realtor or myself to call in when a showing is scheduled, it could automatically do that. —Guilio, Pa.

We’re getting ready to start construction on a new house in North Carolina, and we’re already planning out a nice Control4 automation system. (We saw this system demo’d at the CES show in Vegas) One of the key elements we’d want is to treat video with the same flexibility as whole-house audio. We’ll have a total of 3 DVRs in the house and want to be able to watch a feed from any DVR on any TV in the house. We’d also like an easy way to archive DVR programs we want to save with a Blu-ray recorder. —Jim, Fla.

My wife and I are building a new house were we would like to be able to have some automated control of the lights, locks, sprinkler system and the window shades depending on the time of day (and time of year). Once the ground gets below a certain temperature an air compressor would flush out the sprinkler system in preparation for winter. A sensor in the garage floor would set off an alarm when it gets near freezing. During the summer when the house gets above a certain temperature (and it is cooler outside) some windows would be opened and a whole house fan would come on. Lights and/or audio (music or preset messages) would be available in most of the house, garage, and back yard. The theater room would use the automated system to allow some preset viewing modes depending on the media being played. —John, Idaho

I don’t need features. Features might look exciting, excite the early adopters, and stretch the envelope. But while I, like any self-respecting EE, enjoy the features they’re not what I need. I need a system that my wife and daughter can operate. I need a system that guests to my house can run. If they want to watch part of a movie in the living room then switch to the bedroom to watch the last bit it should be easy to do (yes I know it’s a supported feature today - even my beloved TiVos can do it, albeit with a novice-unfriendly series of clicks). I want lights/heat/video to be easy. I want FULL visibility into what’s happening at my house when I travel. And I want all of that to be affordable. I don’t mind some initial tweaking, but after that, using home automation should be drop-dead simple. —Lee, Wash.

My home in the Northeast is near the beach and I travel a lot for work. This leaves my house unattended in the rough New England winters. Aside from multi-zone audio (I’m a bit of a music buff), being able to have the lights come on and shut off automatically when I am away from home, and monitoring/controlling the temperature from the road, I’d love to be able to monitor my natural gas levels (and automate an email to my gas company?). It’d save me a huge amount of anxiety every time I pull into the driveway. Last year, after a harsh couple of weeks, my wife and I came home to 3 inches of water—on Valentine’s Day! Of course, it’d also be great to automate the blinds overlooking the ocean, and being able to set “romantic” lighting for dinner on the deck. —Bruce, Maine

Water Bill: I want to see how much water I am dispensing through the sprinkler system and every day home water use. I want this graphed out so I can estimate water bills. Power: My husband’s gear in the basement is causing a high power bill. I need one button touch to turn as much as possible off as soon as he leaves for work. I want to see the power consumption to show him for our monthly arguments. Nanny: Somehow I want to keep an eye on the kids and watch what they are doing. Everything. —Silke, Ga.

As the father of a 2 year old, a 1 year old and one on the way you can only imagine how hard it is going to be to keep tabs on everyone. I would like to install a series of cameras and touch panels that can double as controllers and video screens so that we can see our children from key areas throughout our home (think a baby monitor on steroids). Additionally, when someone pulls into the driveway or comes to the door, all screens should switch to an external camera and allow for two-way communication from the touch screens and patio as well as control the door lock remotely. And of course, control my TV, DirecTV receiver and Blu-ray player in an easy to use manner. And, as an added bonus, all of the functions above should be available over the internet and on my iTouch. Here’s the kicker: do it all wirelessly! —Thomas, N.Y.

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