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October 2008
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December 2008

Nokia's home automation system

The UK website Automated Home reports that Nokia is launching a phone-controlled home automation initiative. According to Nokia's website for the project, they believe that the mobile phone is the "tipping point" needed for widespread home automation acceptance.

They are planning to develop a new standalone controller that runs OpenWRT Linux and works with Z-Wave devices. Which is the same as Vera, the home automation controller I'm currently testing.

Kick start your paperless office for the new year

I've previously written (see My Paperless Office) about how I maintain a virtually paper-free office, professionally and personally, by using DevonThink Pro and a ScanSnap document scanner. If you've been thinking that this setup would be useful to you, you'll be pleased to learn that Devon Technologies is having a "Black Friday" sale where you can buy or upgrade DevonThink (and other tools) at 25% off. A good deal!

Comparing home automation approaches

At Stepcase Lifehack, the article Home Automation: Evaluating the Options offers an overview of the differences between wired and "plug-in" automation systems.

It's a good piece, but I'd caution that it understates, by omission, the difference in costs. Hard-wired systems start at approximately $10,000. So simply stating that they're "more expensive" is as much as an understatement as saying that plug-in systems require "landlord's approval" is a misstatement. (The latter is simply not true, no permanent modifications to your home are necessary.)

The earlier article in this series, Home Automation: What It Can Do For You is commendable for describing what you might want to accomplish, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

INSTEON Universal and PowerFlash module

Hot on the heels of the announcement of an open/close sensor, Smarthome says they will be shipping, before the end of the year, a new INSTEON-based I/O Linc module that seems to offer the capabilities of the old X10 Universal Module and PowerFlash in one unit. This too will be good news, as those are key pieces in filling-in advanced home automation techniques. Take a look at the specs and let me know if it fits your needs, at first glance it seems quite capable.

Good news! INSTEON window sensor coming soon

Wow, INSTEON-based home automation just keeps picking up steam. Now Smarthome is taking pre-orders for wireless open-closed sensors.

These types of sensors are essential for security systems, and can also be used to create a variety of methods for capturing real-world activities in your home automation system. This fills a big hole in the INSTEON line up. Smarthome says that they'll be shipping in January 2009.

iPhone as a baby or home monitor

CodeGoo's iPhone application Baby Monitor is inexpensive and provides a way to monitor a room for sound, such as a baby's nursery. When the application detects noise, it silently dials the number you specify and allows whoever listens to monitor the room. It will also trigger if the iPhone is picked up. As the developer suggests, it can be used to monitor just about anything.

If you're looking for baby or child-related iPhone apps, see Great iPhone applications for Parents.