As a young child in the late 70's/early 80's I was led to believe that by the time I was all grown up my house would be like "The Jetsons"—completely automated and super cool. I wouldn't have to cook, clean, or dress myself; the super-smart centralized computer in my home would take care of all these pesky tasks for me. Fast forward 25 years and I'm still doing dishes, scrubbing floors and putting my pants on one leg at a time—all by myself. How disappointing.
One step in the right direction comes from the Siemen's serve@Home Home Management System. Designed for mobile and remote interaction, this system can let you control various systems and appliances around your home wirelessly and via cell phone or internet.
And unlike similar systems cropping up, the serve@Home communicates wirelessly with appliances via encryption (VPN tunneling) to help alleviate some security concerns.
The system works by networking appliances equipped with a small slot in which a retrofit-able System Interface card is inserted. Using a 230 volt power supply and an Ethernet interface, this home management system can communicate with appliances via a wireless network. Using the home automation portal dubbed "cockpit" you can interface with your devices via PC, tablet PC or PDA. All features of your appliances can be changed or checked via this interface, as well as providing normal PC information functions such as email, web, music and television.
The serve@Home can you let you control pretty much everything in your home, from kitchen appliance, heating/air conditioning, lights and blinds to webcams and security systems. Preheat the oven from your office, turn on your AC on the ride home, check to see if you really switched off the oven—the possibilities are endless.
The system can also integrate switchable power sockets, which would be helpful if you wanted to disconnect your expensive LCD during a thunderstorm when away from home.
Since the infoModule was released in 2005 there are now 15 Siemens products integrated with this system and more on the way. You can easily add appliances at a later date thanks to the existing infrastructure and standard wireless protocols. According to Siemens, networked appliances carry an additional charge of around $66, while the system starter solution including infoModule is available from $330 to $1,322, depending on the options selected.
Still no word as to whether or not it puts your pants on for you.