The home network 'idea' has been around for at least as long as I've been covering IT (perhaps even longer). It gets knocked down, it gets back up again, but it never really turns anyone (or any thing) on. Could we be on a winner this time? By Ian Scales.
Probably not. The standard-bearer is US telco Verizon, which showed off its FiOS (its broadband service) home automation system at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month in Las Vegas. As always it's a 'Home Monitoring and Control' system (I remember a LAN in about 1984 that did this) and as always it seems to have been dreamed up by engineers who can't see why a scaled down factory process control system (complete with a lot of the terminology) shouldn't sell like hotcakes to Mr and Mrs Average in the suburbs.
OK, let's be fair. There may be differences.
Time does flag up new imperatives and the most obvious change to overtake the world (since 1984) is climate change. Verizon is majoring on the system's ability to monitor and optimise energy usage as one of its key selling points. In fact there are two starter kits - one provides home security and the other is the energy monitoring system.
Users can access a Verizon portal to gen up on home energy use and control their appliaces' status.. for example to set the system up for "home," "away," or "night." All this can be done from all the usual screens - TV, smart phone, or PC - and requires some extra controller equipment to work (obviously). And if the control is through easy-to-use smartphone apps, the concept could well take off this time.
A trial is under way this month in New Jersey with deployment to follow later this year.
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