Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My house has bugs...

Not the living kind (well, not many of the living kind -- I did see a lone ant try to sneak through my living room the other day) but the software kind.

As "Meet Lincoln" (over on the right, yeah, right there) says I "Work in technology," and that's about all I can say before most people's eyes glaze over. I work in an obscure corner of the technology world that combines computing and audio/visual -- some call it integration, some call it automation. I do that programming that make all of the toys play nicely with each other.

While my job has be doing exclusively commercial projects (casinos, hotels, government facilities, conference centers, schools, theatres, etc.) I've programmed the automation system for my home. It's cool: I can turn all of the lights in the house off from one button, I can adjust the air conditioning from anywhere in the world with Internet access, one button turns the TV on, sets the lighting "mood" (based on the time of day), gets the TiVo ready... the ultimate universal remote.

My house also does a fair amount of "thinking" on it's own -- as I joke around the holidays "It knows when you're sleeping, it knows when you're awake, and it kind of knows if you've been bad or good". If I arm the security system (from a convenient wall-mounted or wireless touchpanel, my iPod, or any number of other interfaces) it turns off anything I've left on, and sets a lighting look. If I've left a window open, it won't let the air conditioner run...

But the downside to this intelligence is complexity: With a normal home, you flick the light switch and the light comes on, if it doesn't either there's a power failure or the light has burned out. Not so in my house: It could be a programming problem. This weekend while trying the next cool new toy (and that's really all I can say thanks to a non-disclosure agreement) there were some lights I couldn't turn on...and others I couldn't turn off. Do you realize how bloody frustrating that is?

But aside from that little issue, my house has enough annoying quirks, largely from organic growth since I first conceived the system nearly 3 years ago -- and features that I forgot to add the first time around -- that I've decided to just reprogram my house from scratch. Yes. I am reprogramming my house. The dark side to the house of the future.

But I enjoy solving the puzzles.
(As a point of reference -- the MSRP for the control equipment (not including displays, aplifiers, wire, installation labor, etc) is just about $60,000. Of course, I didn't pay anywhere near that, but it's still far from an "every home" solution). It also explains why I'm still driving a 10 year old car.


  1. That is so awesome. So, so awesome. Why don't you market your idea? It's definitely a marketable concept,I'm sure you could get rich!

  2. That's actually my "Real Job" -- the only problem is it's so custom and the equipment has been so expensive (that's slowly changing) that the market is still pretty small.