Simplify your life - automate

Intelligent homes of the future could water your plants for you, feed your dogs and even allow you to see who is knocking at your door… while you are away.

The ‘digital decade’ has come home, with Bill Gates having recently announced at the Macworld Conference that homes of the future are about to become a reality with Microsoft’s focus on home innovation and connectivity.

Bill Gate’s House of the Future, has features such as a room that changes decor along with a person's mood, and kitchens that guide amateur cooks through recipes.

Home automation in South Africa is however already a reality, and there are a number of technologies that will afford you the luxury of a simple one-touch lifestyle.

Light up your life - subtly

Imagine waking up in the middle of the night, and while walking from your dark bedroom towards your bathroom, the bathroom light switches on — ever so subtly.

With an automation system, you can control every light in your house through a central system, using an LCD screen, remote or touch panel.

You can pre-programme and set the mood for every room in the house, and the light in each room will change automatically as security sensors detect your movement and then adjust accordingly.

No keys required

Ever left your keys somewhere and could not get into your house? With a specialised key system you could unlock your door via touch pad or through voice recognition, for example.

Music to your ears

Walk into any room in your house and hear your choice of music — crystal clear. Audio and video automation systems allow all zones or chosen areas in your home to play music or movies from a single source. Touch screens in each room would allow you to change music and or videos.

Climate control

There’s not much you can do about global warming, but you can control the climate throughout your home. Each room can be programmed to its own unique temperature. You can also monitor each room from a central panel.

When you are not there systems can be programmed to shut off so you don’t waste any energy. And you could phone ahead on your way home to switch it on again.

Electrical era

How about waking up to an already made cup of coffee or bath tub with hot water ready for you to climb in? It is possible. Your appliances can be activated by pre-programming according to your lifestyle when you’re at home — and when you not — just simply switch it off.

Global access anywhere at home

Check share prices while still in bed — or better still while brushing your teeth, and even reply to email while making breakfast. With touch panels throughout the house you can surf the internet or check your email from anywhere and at any time.

Safe and sound

Monitor all cameras and survellience around the property from a central point. The system will tell you if any windows are open, and you can even choose to ‘simulate’ being at home so burglars will think you are at home, while you might be a thousand miles away. You will also be alerted if there is a fire or flood.

Virtual magic

Home theatre systems allow you to group for example your TV, DVD player and gaming device.

Microsoft has also just unveiled a Windows Home Server that acts as a central storage space for data from all the computers, Xbox 360 video game consoles and MP3 players under one roof. Content from music and pictures to video and work files could be accessed remotely.

Article by: Thamar Houliston - www.iafrica.com