December 09, 2011
| by Lisa Montgomery
Currently, most control over the lights, thermostats and A/V equipment in a home occurs by pressing buttons on a remote, telephone, keypad or touchpanel. What’s bound to change soon, says Jon Sienkiewicz, marketing director of home control systems manufacturer URC, is that “we’ll move out of this button-pressing world and into one where a house knows who’s in a room and responds appropriately—without any interaction required. The house will know what lighting level the person likes, what music they like and so on,” Sienkiewicz explains.
The bio-sensing home control Sienkiewicz envisions is already being used in devices such as laptop computers and point-and-shoot digital cameras, so it’s not much of a stretch to think that it will work itself into home control systems. Take Panasonic’s Lumix DMCFX580 camera, launched in 2009. With a facial recognition feature, the camera stores shots of a particular person to a file, which a user can later call up to display only the photos containing that face. It wouldn’t be the first time a mobile device painted a roadmap for technology in the home. The Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad have become coveted home control devices, often supplanting wall-mounted keypads and handheld remotes as the primary modus operandi. Manufacturers in the home control business expect this trend to continue, driven primarily by the ever-increasing number of innovative apps available to consumers. For example, with a GPS app loaded into an iPhone, it’s conceivable that in the not-too-distant future the electronic systems inside a home will be able to adjust themselves based on your current location.
For example, “When you’re 50 miles away, the home might lock the doors and turn down the heat,” says Eric Smith, chief technology officer for home control manufacturer Control4. “When you get closer to the home, like 1,000 feet away, the app could signal the garage door to open and the lights in the kitchen to turn on.”
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.