April 13, 2009
| by Arlen Schweiger
These Kentucky homeowners love showcasing their big-screen TV, speakers and audio/video gear. But when they really want to wow guests, they start talking to HAL.
It’s not HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but software provider Home Automated Living and its apropos acronym.
This HAL won’t question the homeowners’ requests, either. When they want to hear a selection from the 4,000 or more songs in their digital music collection, all they have to do is speak into a computer microphone or house telephone, and say something like “Open music, open Led Zeppelin, play ‘Black Dog.’”
“The only trick is that the computer microphone is really sensitive to background noise and can get confused, so normally they pick up the house phone,” says Gary Patterson of Greensburg, Ky.-based Sanja Resort Living, which outfitted the home’s electronic systems.
The HAL software is integrated with automation controls from HAI (Home Automation Inc.) and its connectivity partners, so the homeowners can also command the Leviton lighting system, GE security sensors and HAI thermostats via voice. HAL also announces incoming phone caller ID names.
There’s no need to worry about missing any calls during movies or vacuuming, either. Caller ID is also displayed on the TV when it’s in use; and the MD Manufacturing AirForce central vac automatically powers off when the phone rings. When visitors come to the door, their arrival is announced as well.
“HAI is the foundation, and the HAL software is the fun piece of it,” says Patterson.
There’s plenty more fun in this space, which features a 70-inch JVC rear-projection HDTV, 5.1 surround sound of Polk Audio speakers and Definitive Technology subwoofer, and dual Sony 400-disc megachangers.
Because one of the room’s two networked computers is used solely for music, the megachangers house the homeowners’ massive DVD collection—and HAL’s not offended that a universal remote handles those selections.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.