home automation
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By: Thomas M. Ciesla

Some say smart houses will become the norm, changing how we live our lives. As our population ages, the promise of this technology over the next decade is exciting, especially for the elderly or handicapped homeowners.

Imagine a house that knows when someone has fallen and contacts the local EMS, or sense that a burner has been left on and shuts it off automatically. Bar codes on medications in the bathroom are automatically scanned and the mirror flashes a morning reminder to take a prescription, or it alerts someone that the two medicines about to be taken could be toxic.

Dr. Feng Zhao, a senior researcher at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center, is working to create tiny sensors capable of communicating with each other and inexpensive enough that they will become ubiquitous – a 'sensornet' -- in and around our homes. While this dream may still be five to ten years in the future, the smart house is here today.

As B. Amilee Wendt, senior VP of Marketing at ClearOneMedia, Inc. explains, “Within the next several years legislature will exist around the country that will allow electric companies to offer residential clients incentives for implementing smart houses.”

As with most new technologies, widespread acceptance of the smart house will be driven by tangible benefits, homeowner demand and system cost. As we work harder and longer at our jobs and our personal lives are filled with increasingly impossible schedules, the smart house, like the telephone, may become a necessity rather than a luxury.

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This easy-to-use touchscreen navigation device allows bedside system control.

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