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Microsoft Forges Ahead With New Home-Automation OS

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the home-of-tomorrow dept.

Microsoft 196

suraj.sun writes "More than a decade ago, Microsoft execs, led by Chairman Bill Gates, were touting a future where .Net coffee pots, bulletin boards, and refrigerator magnets would be part of homes where smart devices would communicate and inter-operate. Microsoft hasn't given up on that dream. In 2010, Microsoft researchers published a white paper about their work on a HomeOS and a HomeStore — early concepts around a Microsoft Research-developed home-automation system. Those concepts have morphed into prototypes since then, based on a white paper, 'An Operating System for the Home,' (PDF) published this month on the Microsoft Research site. The core of HomeOS is described in the white paper as a kernel that is agnostic to the devices to which it provides access, allowing easy incorporation of new devices and applications. The HomeOS itself 'runs on a dedicated computer in the home (e.g., the gateway) and does not require any modifications to commodity devices,' the paper added. Microsoft has been testing HomeOS in 12 real homes over the past four to eight months, according to the latest updates. As is true with all Microsoft Research projects, there's no guarantee when and if HomeOS will be commercialized, or even be 'adopted' by a Microsoft product group."

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Interesting book by Bill Gates, from 1995 (5, Informative)

OldTimeCoder (2629061) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844223)

It wasn't only a decade ago when Microsoft and Bill Gates talked about this. In Bill Gates' book The Road Ahead [wikipedia.org] , published back in 1995, he was already having visions of interconnected home devices and appliances. I think this has been long time innovative thought of Mr. Gates. You have to remember that even Microsoft was still a relatively small player in the industry and had only starting to gain momentum.

I was still a teenager back then but I found many of his ideas quite fascinating, especially the ones that resolved around similar stuff to HomeOS. While many Slashdotters say that Bill Gates merely copied his best ideas like BASIC, he also did have a very large amount of original ideas and thoughts. He described in good details about his visions for the future and how and why something like this would be great for everyones home.

In that sense, and despite what many slashdotters think, Bill Gates was quite a hacker. Actually, he really was and still is, and he got lucky to have parents with business background so he could mix those two capabilities. This ultimately led him to build the largest and greatest software company the world has ever seen, Microsoft.

If you haven't read the book, and even if you have something against Gates in your mind, I highly recommend to read it. It's a great read and truly lets you get into the innovative mindset of Bill Gates. Back when he was a young hacker and like with many other young people, he had tons of ideas in his mind.

Re:Interesting book by Bill Gates, from 1995 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844279)

just, wow.

Re:Interesting book by Bill Gates, from 1995 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844293)

Ah, a young hacker(age 40), full of ideas from the 1950's about home automation, which is why he completely missed the internet and had to put out V2 of The Road Ahead. As goes the OS, so goes the man.

Awesome troll, dude. You'll catch many fish today.

Re:Interesting book by Bill Gates, from 1995 (1, Interesting)

OldTimeCoder (2629061) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844365)

which is why he completely missed the internet and had to put out V2 of The Road Ahead. As goes the OS, so goes the man.

Actually, he didn't miss the internet. What he said was that the internet back in 1995 was only a beginning to the 'real', great internet and not really what he imagined it to be in the end. In many ways he was right - do you remember how bad it actually was back in 1994-1995? I do.

And internet has greatly changed from that, mainly by introduction of new technology on top of HTTP. Which is a common concern among slashdotters, as we rely on old technology and fix things by building on top of badly designed aspects. Even Google is trying to fix these issues with SPDY and API for embedded sandboxed executables.

Re:Interesting book by Bill Gates, from 1995 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39844579)

Gates and the entire MS senior staff completely missed it (except for Rob Glaser, who jumped ship and started Real Networks). They thought of networking as LAN Manager running NetBIOS, with email transported point to point with remote sites. Oh, and there were walled garden communities/content providers like AOL, CompuServe, and (in development) MSN.

I remember Gates at the time was giving speeches about the wonders of CD-ROMs with their hundreds of megabytes of information, including rich text (RTF and PostScript), animation and audio/video.

The history is described fairly well in Jim Clark's book [amazon.com] , including Clark's unintentional head fake that prompted Gates to commit 500 MS engineers to an abortive interactive TV project (his old employer SGI was sucked in too).

Re:Interesting book by Bill Gates, from 1995 (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#39845197)

This guy is TechNY/Bonch/etc.

Re:Interesting book by Bill Gates, from 1995 (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39845357)

I have to wonder, what is the point of this TechLA/TechNY/InterestingFellow/Insightin140bytes/DCTech/etc. account. Somebody is obviously spending some money on this. Of course MS probably doesn't directly shill tech forums anymore...more likely pays outfits like waggeneredstrom.com/clients to do it for them. But doesn't it really pay back? Personally I find it annoying and obnoxious and makes me want to use MS products even less but maybe that's just me and everybody else just goes along with it. Just curious.

Re:Interesting book by Bill Gates, from 1995 (4, Interesting)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844347)

This is all you need to know about Gates' ability to peer into the future: In the mid '90s I saw a stack of his books for sale with a sticker on the cover which said NOW REVISED TO INCLUDE THE INTERNET.

Re:Interesting book by Bill Gates, from 1995 (2)

pseudofrog (570061) | about 2 years ago | (#39845201)

This is getting old...

New user account, lengthy reply posted with the same timestamp as the story, marketingish language, ugh. Yup -- same shill, new account.

But to your point -- pondering the future of computers does not make one a hacker. Sci-fi writers are not hackers because they have some interesting ideas.

And does it matter that Bill Gates wrote about about automation in 1995? I remember seeing several "house of tomorrow" cartoons from the 1960s detailing the same thing. Several movies from the 1980s showed automation (usually used by a bachelor attempting to impress a lady with dim lights and slow jazz). To laud Gates as a visionairy for an idea that has existed since shortly after the advent of computers is quite silly.

Ultimately, nobody really cares about Gates' hacker credentials. Was DONKEY.BAS his grand opus or was he capable of more? It doesn't really matter -- he got rich off of his business acumen and his family's connections, not because of his programming skills. And it certainly has no relevance to the questions of whether or not this new OS is actually useful and whether or not it will become common.

But, hey, you resisted the urge to bash Google.

You're joking, right? (1)

sgtrock (191182) | about 2 years ago | (#39845435)

Bill Gates, a visionary??? Please. He missed the single biggest, most obvious trend of the 90s.

By the mid-90s anybody with half a brain who was paying any attention at all to computer and communications technology related industries understood that the Internet was well on its way to becoming THE dominant communications medium. The only question was what form it was going to take. Even so, by 1995 it was pretty clearly going to be led by Web based technologies. Yet Gates missed all of this and had to put out a revised edition of his own book to include it.

Want to read what a true visionary wrote? Take a gander at Alvin Toffler's books from the '70s. Go read Future Shock [wikipedia.org] (published in 1970) and The Third Wave [wikipedia.org] (published in 1980).

Heck, go read William Gibson's Neuromancer [wikipedia.org] (published in 1984). Or, for earlier descriptions of how the Web might work, read James H. Schmitz's [wikipedia.org] Hub stories, some of which date back to the '40s and '50s.

Bill Gates, a hacker? Of a sort, although there were and are FAR more talented people hacking away on a variety of stuff. IMO he was always too self centered [wikipedia.org] to really be a good hacker. (This, from a guy who used computer time on a system that he may not have had authorization to use to create his version of BASIC.)

Good hackers want to share. Great hackers know that it's absolutely mandatory to share.

Thought this stuff died (5, Interesting)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844255)

Used to be really interested in home automation. Had an x10 [wikipedia.org] setup for a while (terrible system by the way) and played around with some custom software.

There was a time when everyone thought this was the future (along with virtual reality and other such things). I bought into it. I figured by now I’d be casually shouting orders at the various appliances in my house.

We now have the technology to do all the cool stuff we dreamed about in the early 90s. The big problem however, is once you automate the lights, temperature, and coffee pot what else is there that makes any sense (and even the lights are more of a novelty than much practical benefit). The “house of the future” feeling is cool and it’s fun to play with... but most of it is impractical and would seem to add very little benefit for a whole lot of complexity.

Re:Thought this stuff died (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844313)

Many of the things being automated are just moving it to a centralized location. For example, lights on motion detectors, coffee pots on a timer, etc. Most of the time, the ability to start a pot of coffee brewing from your smartphone is only slightly more convenient than setting a timer in the morning.

That said, when I finally buy a house (in about 3 years), I plan on playing around with some home automation for much the same reason my home router is running on an Athlon II X2 with a quad-port NIC. For fun.

Re:Thought this stuff died (1)

schitso (2541028) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844323)

I'd add security to that list. Personally, I appreciate that my lights turn off and my thermostat is set to its unoccupied state whenever I arm my security system as away.

Re:Thought this stuff died (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844357)

Laundry [youtube.com]

Re:Thought this stuff died (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844373)

I'd love to remotely measure, control and graph usage on each of my power points in my house. Great to track power usage on a granular almost per device level. Locks have been automated in commercial structures for a while, would be nice to see it in the residential sphere. I think overall better integration of all of these systems with our desktops and devices would be good but that would call for true and proper standardisation and this area is populated by proprietary technologies.

Re:Thought this stuff died (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844425)

Had an x10 [wikipedia.org] setup for a while (terrible system by the way)

X10 sucks. The "new" (actually about a decade old) Insteon stuff is where its at.

played around with some custom software.

Plain vanilla misterhouse with some perl addons, here.

(and even the lights are more of a novelty than much practical benefit)

Its rapidly nearing a decade now (or is it already 10 years?) that I set up my security sensor lights thingies to turn on at sunset and off at a predetermined time, all depending on work/school schedules for that day of week. I figure I've saved pennies, maybe even dollars, of electricity over the past decade, but the thing I've saved the most is time... My motion sensor lights from garage to house are always and only on when I need them and I never, ever, have to turn them on or off.

I've also been fooling with door sensors and occupancy sensors. If the basement workshop door is closed, and the occupancy sensor says there's no one in there, thats two votes to shut off the lights 5 minutes after providing a verbal warning.

The other thing I did with lights is link them to the garage door sensor.. so opening the garage door turns on my walkway and doorway lights for 10 minutes, iff the sun is down.

In the novelty category, my tropical fish tank lights turn on and off with millisecond-level GPS timed accuracy...

Home automation scales like the internet. Two lamp modules and a perl script is about as useful of an automation system as an "internet" containing exactly two computers. Usefulness scales as some polynomial of number of devices...

Re:Thought this stuff died (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 2 years ago | (#39844747)

Home automation scales like the internet. Two lamp modules and a perl script is about as useful of an automation system as an "internet" containing exactly two computers. Usefulness scales as some polynomial of number of devices...

I was at one point working towards the kind of stuff you describe. Even had a hilariously Rube Goldberg curtain opener dealie (never really got it to work). I never got to the "whole house wired up" stage .. but that's where I wanted to go.

Currently I've scaled back to the few things I found legitimately useful. Specifically:

- Lights in the bedroom. Being able to turn the lights on/off while lying in bed is a surprisingly simple convenience that so many live without.
- Christmas! My old x10 stuff always makes an appearance around Christmas time (occupancy sensors controlling christmas tree lights, other lights on timers, etc..).

I have "smart" thermostats .. and coffee pot has it's own built in timer function (having been built in the last few decades..).

No more central control (I used an ocelot controller back when I was playing with this). Just a few select standalone components.

Re:Thought this stuff died (1)

sohmc (595388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844445)

The problem with X10 is that it was just a horrible piece of equipment. I had a roommate who played with this stuff all day and the control was unpredictable. I'm sure there's a way to configure it properly, but all-in-all, it just wasn't ready for prime-time.

I believe this is eventually where we will be headed, but we're just not there yet. RFIDs are helping bridge the devices gap. I don't think it will be long until we have fridges that can read RFIDs on everything from a bottle of milk (multiple embedded RFIDs could track how much milk is left) to the number of juice boxes left.

But how to get everything integrated is still up in the air. And let's not forget demand: will anyone want this enough to pay for it?

Back then, X10 and Microsoft was trying to solve a problem that didn't quite exist. I would say this is still true today. I don't think this type of connectivity will be accepted and/or expected by the general public until the price is so low that it just becomes included with anything we buy (think UPC codes).

Re:Thought this stuff died (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39844529)

The problem with X10 is that it was just a horrible piece of equipment. I had a roommate who played with this stuff all day and the control was unpredictable

When I was still using X10, years and years ago, the "standard" was to send every command three times, one minute apart. Sometimes it still failed anyway.

With Insteon (think X-10 2000 or X-10 debugged) there's two way protocol with handshakes so I can tell if it got the message, and I can poll the device to make sure.

Re:Thought this stuff died (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#39844613)

The best you had with things before Z-Wave, UPB or Insteon was LonWorks PLC. Expensive stuff really intended for office buildings- but you could do all those sorts of things you can now do with the first three and a lot cheaper.

I suppose it would be an "okay" thing- but we're discussing Microsoft trying to jam their notions onto platforms better suited to something like Linux, QNX, etc.

Re:Thought this stuff died (1)

jaymemaurice (2024752) | about 2 years ago | (#39845177)

I can see this running dandy on stripped down nt kernel with minimal userland... but QNX, RToS, FreeBSD, Linux, Plan9, VxWorks, Hurd all have much better geek factor. I think I would do Plan9.

Re:Thought this stuff died (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39845071)

With Insteon (think X-10 2000 or X-10 debugged) there's two way protocol with handshakes so I can tell if it got the message, and I can poll the device to make sure.

With Insteon, every node, not operating in X10 compatibility mode, also acts as a relay. This helps ensure communication in noisey environments whereby X10 would be spurious at best. Insteon is also stateful whereas X10 is stateless. That may not sound like a big deal, but when you close your garage door and it turns out your just opened it, that's the difference between X10 and Insteon.

The only advantage X10 has to any of the competing technologies is the fact its dirt cheap. In comparison, everything eles goes from expensive to insanely expensive. And that's ultimately what prevents widespread adoption - price point with reliable features.

Re:Thought this stuff died (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#39844577)

The big deal is more along the lines of energy management. The other "house of the future" stuff is there as a hook to get people to sign off on the rest. My applied for, but never completed (Nothing like running out of money at the wrong time...) patent application was in this space.

Re:Thought this stuff died (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39844619)

I've been using HomeOS in my research for the last year as part of a system to measure and optimize home energy usage on a device level. The main benefit of HomeOS is that it provides a common interface for the absurd number of "standards" in home automation hardware.

(Also, I can confirm that HomeOS is deployed in more than 12 'real' homes.)

Re:Thought this stuff died (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#39844673)

i found his idea of .net coffee pots funny i mean they if anything will run java.

Hear hear (1)

thrill12 (711899) | about 2 years ago | (#39844807)

I am also having some fragmented Domotica in my home, self-built and generally working 'ok': doorbell gives me an e-mail, outside lights are controlled by a crontab, alarm system gives a message when a door is opened and that stuff. But like the parent I feel that it is generally useless to the common person. However, there may be an opportunity for someone to integrate everything into 1 solution that *would* give benefit ; maybe integrate it with the TV system using tools like jstx. But I don't think MS will solve this issue though ; way too much focused on their own OS, not on the user.

Re:Hear hear (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 2 years ago | (#39844987)

I am also having some fragmented Domotica in my home...

I'm sorry, but that term really sounds more like "Horny Housewives" porn than home automation...

Re:Thought this stuff died (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | about 2 years ago | (#39844893)

We now have the technology to do all the cool stuff we dreamed about in the early 90s. The big problem however, is once you automate the lights, temperature, and coffee pot what else is there that makes any sense (and even the lights are more of a novelty than much practical benefit).

If you had a full computer (mail, etc), displays around the house, TVs, Radio, and an audio system that moved the sound (and voice input) with you... you might be able to do interesting things. Audio notification and voice input from everywhere; video notification and text input from various places around the house.

But the problem is that it's still more about "cool" than function. "I don't have to look at my phone to get text messages" is crucial in the car, but not at home. "I can always get notified of new mail" is a problem solved by smartphones; it's only a minor inconvenience to carry one around the house. And while you may be able to come up with a plausible use for networked lights if you stretch it, the advantages over dumb wiring aren't all that high.

Arguably, "home automation" might be better suited for office environs than home environs; smart locks, location awareness, power control, lights, etc... it makes more sense for you to invest in infrastructure when you never know who will need what services when, or where. But a house is just a house; it's what, four people on average; unless you live in a mansion, you're not controlling dozens of doors or hundreds of lights. It's "cool", it's playful, but it's not what I would consider practical.

Re:Thought this stuff died (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 2 years ago | (#39844997)

If you had a full computer (mail, etc), displays around the house

That sums up the vision I had in the 90s perfectly. I pictured star trek-esq touchscreen panels in place of light switches, and maybe a full panel in main rooms that would let me do more. I pictured voice notifications throughout the house (yes, I was a star trek junkie!). It would be so damn cool, and the tech to do that is actually pretty cheap right now.. but as you said, beyond the cool factor it's kinda pointless (and I might want to sell this house some day...).

Re:Thought this stuff died (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39845347)

So, an iPad in each room would suffice?

re: practicality of home automation (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about 2 years ago | (#39845369)

I remember back in the early 90's, I worked for a small computer reseller, and the owner was very interested in home automation. He tried to get certified as an official partner for a "SmartHome" project that was underway at the time. I don't remember all the details anymore, but basically, it was a consortium of manufacturers trying to create standards so the infrastructure could be purchased as an option, at the time a new home was built. They had a whole catalog put together of the products they planned on offering. As I recall, it was all based around the idea of replacing standard home wiring with a ribbon cable of theirs. It would attach to special wall plates you'd buy for it, and depending on the features of a particular plate, different wires in the ribbon would be utilized to carry electrical power, transmit audio signals, ethernet data, etc. Of course, many of these plates and products (digital thermostats and so on) would also allow automation, via commands I assume you'd send down the ethernet portion of the cabling.

I don't think that ever materialized into anything of substance though. The last I heard? They had too many barriers to entry on the home building side of the equation. Home builders weren't technical/computer-centric people as a rule, and they simply weren't interested in doing something as basic as electrical wiring of a home a different way than what they'd always done -- especially if consumers weren't exactly clamoring for it in the first place.

I remember having a fascination with home automation myself using the old X10 stuff, and as quickly as I got interested? I got over it. Like you say, X10 simply sucked. I wired up a portion of my parent's house with it for basic security reasons. (They wanted the front and back porch lights to turn on after dark and off in the early morning, for example -- and other misc. lights to be able to be controlled in a similar fashion for when they left on vacation.) Within a year, all of the push-button type wall switches X10 offered went bad - so you had to repeatedly stab at the buttons to get them to manually turn a light on or off. The automation proved to be unreliable too - with switches missing commands randomly. And even the Radio Shack branded alarm clock with X10 integration as a central home controller was garbage. It allowed programming 2 pairs of on/off times, maximum, for any of eight X10 modules - but any time you forgot to erase an existing program before trying to add a new one, the clock would completely crash/freeze up if you accidentally exceeded that 2 pair per module storage limit!

When I tried to move to something better than X10, I quickly saw the prices soar on all the alternatives. And ultimately, THAT is why home automation hasn't ever really gone mainstream. It's not that it's a "toy" with no practical uses - but it only adds so much value. The really GOOD automation stuff is VERY expensive and only gets purchased by the rich, who can afford to buy it just for the bragging rights and to play with it. Everyone else would only get their money's worth if the prices were at or lower than the X10 stuff's cost, but actually worked reliably.

I hope they plan some thing other then WIFI (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844269)

as WIFI over load can be a issue even more so in apartments.

Re:I hope they plan some thing other then WIFI (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844309)

You know what a bigger problem is? People who don't understand the difference between 'then' and 'than'.

Your brain damage is showing.

Sounds like fun for hackers I hope it can work off (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844289)

Sounds like fun for hackers I hope it can work offline or under the big firewall if needed.

Posting comment from behind the sofa (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844299)

Please tell me when it's safe to come out from behind the sofa. My HomeOS appliances all got malware and have formed a botnet. My DVD player is trundling around the living room with a steak knife demanding my credit card details and my fridge has ejected spam all over the kitchen. I knew I should have installed Norton!

Re:Posting comment from behind the sofa (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844331)

I knew it was a bad idea to give you a DVD player with opposable thumbs.

Re:Posting comment from behind the sofa (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844409)

It was a DRM measure put there by Hollywood, solely to punch anyone who attempted to insert a copied disc and perform the occasional cavity search for pirated material. Little did I know that it would end up being used AGAINST me! Should I survive this situation unstabbed I will not be buying DVD players from Sony again.

Re:Posting comment from behind the sofa (0, Redundant)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#39844689)

Gives new meaning to the Blue Screen of Death, doesn't it? >:-D

Re:Posting comment from behind the sofa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39844711)

For a few laughs search for SmartHouse 2.0: Diary of a Future Homeowner. It's a least 10 years old, but was WAY ahead of its time.

Re:Posting comment from behind the sofa (1)

james_van (2241758) | about 2 years ago | (#39844767)

actually, the problem is that you did install norton

Should have installed Norton? (1)

tomzyk (158497) | about 2 years ago | (#39845117)

Oh, so you KNEW your home appliances would eventually turn on you! You just wanted Norton's "routine background scan" to trigger every 30 minutes to slow your own personal Skynet down to a crawl. You know, so you'd have time to go get a snack before the next foray.

Re:Posting comment from behind the sofa (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | about 2 years ago | (#39845231)

I knew I should have installed Norton!

My mom's house came with Norton pre-installed, it takes 10 minutes to turn on a lamp, and an hour to preheat the oven. You're better off without it, really.

Question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844327)

Even IF (and it's a big "if") people will want this (home automation on a wide-scale)...

Question is: "Will they want it from Microsoft ?"

From Apple... sure. Seems folks just can't get enough new things from Apple.

But imagine all the negative things people associate with Microsoft (rightly or wrongly), and imagine those things being present in how your home works.

Re:Question is... (0)

miknix (1047580) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844419)

I know nothing about homeOS but I damn hope the ABI is different from Windows. Last thing we want is the home's central computer running a antivirus!

Re:Question is... (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844423)

If the Ford Sync system is any indication, Microsoft seems to be able to pull off something like this quite well.

Re:Question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39844625)

By "something like this"... are you referring to their solution ? cause that'd sound like a promotional turf'er.

But if by "something like this" you mean the public's response to the offering (which by the way they cannot exactly choose with complete freedom versus a competing alternative)... then please explain how taking a year to go from 3mil to 4mil equals "pulling something off"... even when in this case, you're in kehoots with a car company.

I'm just talking about how their brand itself has become a "percieved" liability (e.g. Zune, Win-Mo, Vista)

Re:Question is... (1)

Junta (36770) | about 2 years ago | (#39845167)

In the first case, I can't comment either way. I would think Sync to be fundamentally distinct and agree that you can't extrapolate one to another.

For the public response, I think at *least* it demonstrates that MS brand is not so repulsive that it dissuades car buyers significantly. Whether that counts as 'success' could be questionable. I don't know anyone considering Sync specifically to be a gotta-have feature that makes them go with Ford over a competitor, so it seems to me like MS is brand-neutral in that front. In terms of taking a year to get a million new users, we are talking about cars here. The entire US market for new vehicles in a year is about 12 million total.

Re:Question is... (3, Interesting)

twdorris (29395) | about 2 years ago | (#39844927)

If the Ford Sync system is any indication, Microsoft seems to be able to pull off something like this quite well.

You're kidding right? I have the Ford Sync system from Microsoft in my new F150. And you do, literally, have to reboot the truck sometimes to get the USB interface to sync up. I mean come to a stop, turn off the ignition, wait for a few seconds and then turn it back on and pray to the sync-gods that it works this time so you can finally be on your way.

MIT? (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844335)

MIT has monitored bathrooms, does that count? [mit.edu]

And to troll a little bit, what happens to my coffeepot if it dies with a bluescreen?

Re:MIT? (1)

khr (708262) | about 2 years ago | (#39844585)

And to troll a little bit, what happens to my coffeepot if it dies with a bluescreen?

You get a cup of water? Or maybe they keep some blue food coloring in a small reservoir (or a big one?) so you can tell by the output that it blue "screened".

Re:MIT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39844677)

You do what Microsoft has trained us to do, give it the three finger salute (or yank the power). Imagine the possibilities! "ERROR 0xDEADCAFE: Invalid mug fault in coffee maker module" or "ERROR 0x000BEDAA: Unauthorized use of the toilet or unknown format, replace and press any key"

Re:MIT? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39844739)

My wife's previous coffee maker was controlled by misterhouse (the coffee maker has since broken and the new one will not power up on return of AC power without pressing a pushbutton, to my intense annoyance).

If there was an "issue" like a linux kernel panic on the misterhouse, the old coffee maker stayed in its previous state. So its either going to use around 100 watts keeping itself warm continuously all day, or statistically more likely she has a cold coffee maker in the morning. Being linux, this only happened like once per year, if that often. Also had a drive failure, once.

Another tragic occurrence was leaving the fishtank lights on overnight, poor little critters didn't get to sleep that night.

The very first time I wrote perl code to control the outside lights, I somehow screwed up the am/pm but it was pretty obvious and easy to fix. Speaking of writing code, you need to express your needs in perl, which most people can't do, but thats OK because most people can't express their needs in English, or even manage to flip the light switch off when leaving the room, so its never going to be more than a niche project. Most women, heck most people, cannot comprehend how a thermostat works. And thats OK, for the rest of us there is advanced automation.

Those are the only three problems I've had in the past decade of home automation.

from BSOD (1)

BlindRobin (768267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844339)

to E(xploding)H(ouse)OD whooo hooooooooooo

Yo Dawg joke coming up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844343)

Can we use it to automate opening Windows?

Microsoft Research uses LaTeX? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844401)

Interesting that the white paper 'An Operating System for the Home' was created using LaTeX. Doesn't Microsoft Research use Microsoft authoring tools? Or maybe they know better!

Re:Microsoft Research uses LaTeX? (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844471)

It is my understanding that Microsoft Research does more or less whatever the hell they want. Very occasionally, their stuff ends up in actual Microsoft products, at which point it relentlessly marches in lockstep with the needs of Windows and Office once again. Heck, some time ago we were discussing an MS research project that used a gumstix module, running linux(not even the WinCE port that is available!) for some sort of low-power quasi-persistent network connection scheme...

Re:Microsoft Research uses LaTeX? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#39845403)

Here it is, back in 2009 [slashdot.org] ...

Cute concept, really: a gumstix board with a chunk of flash running reduced complexity variants of certain network-interactive processes that the host computer was running(bittorrent and AIM in the mockup). When the host went to sleep, the gumstix transparently hijacked the host's MAC and continued doing things like providing an AIM status and dumping incoming bittorrent data to its flash card. If something happened that required the host PC's attention(ie. flash card filled up), the gumstix would wake the host, copy any data from when the host was asleep that it would need to know about, and kicked control of network activity back to the host.

At present, I don't think Microsoft has done anything with the idea, despite it being a fairly logical extension of Windows Sideshow [wikipedia.org] , which appears to have been left to wither and die, instead.

It's funny, actually: in this case, MS Research hacked something together with a linux device because linux devices are a great platform for hacking stuff together; but this is probably an area where an in-house-technologies implementation might actually have been a great deal more elegant: had the little appendage-processor been running a CLR VM, .NET applications on the host computer could be presented with an interface by which they could nominate bits of themselves to be executed on the coprocessor's CLR while the main computer is shut down, rather than having an entirely different program, running on a different architecture and OS, bundled in for the purpose. Not Microsoft specific, of course, Java could be used to similar ends, and some of the 'smart dust' and mesh guys probably have things designed, rather than kludged, for the purpose; but still...

Re:Microsoft Research uses LaTeX? (3, Insightful)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#39844559)

Or maybe they're using the right tool for the job? LaTeX was specifically designed to automate typesetting, so authors can concentrate purely on the semantic content. Word was designed for non-tech users who want to make gaudy documents that liberally abuse WordArt.

They're not the first to dream (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844405)

They're not the first to dream of embedded smart devices. But Java ME owns a huge chunk of that market, from Blu-Ray players on up.

One thing I learned that ticks me off to no end is Microsoft intentionally made the GUID incompatible with the UUID.

What, pray tell, was wrong with the UUID standard other than Microsoft wanting to yet again try to lock customers in with incompatibilities?

Re:They're not the first to dream (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#39844591)

UUID format: xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx

GUID format: xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx

The incompatibility just leaps from the page.

Re:They're not the first to dream (2)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 years ago | (#39844645)

But my understanding is the actual VALUES of those masking patterns differ, so there is the possibility of a GUID overlapping with a UUID, even though they both use the same string format for printing.

There's more to a value than it's display format, and the fact that the two id generation algorithms are different is where I see the possible data conflicts arising in production systems. Despite the sameness of the string format of GUIDs and UUIDs, I think you'd be risking some issues if you allow .Net/GUID systems and Java/C/C++/Unix/UUID systems to cohabit the same id space.

Re:They're not the first to dream (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#39844765)

How often do those ID spaces overlap though? MS GUIDs are mostly used for COM, which would allow a Java-space UUID to have the same value without a collision, unless the Java app exposes itself as a COM object. But then, if it does that, it should use an MS GUID for that purpose, not a Java UUID.

Regardless, a GUID/UUID collision is so incredibly rare that, for all practical purposes, GUIDs/UUIDs can be treated as truly unique.

Re:They're not the first to dream (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#39844857)

To expand on that last point, from Wikipedia's UUID article:

The probability of one duplicate would be about 50% if every person on earth owns 600 million UUIDs

Re:They're not the first to dream (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 years ago | (#39845011)

That's exactly what I was hoping to be able to do -- treat both UUID and GUID generated values as being truly unique, so that client systems could assign an id to each request that they submit to a server, as well as using them to tag server nodes, processes, etc. within a distributed environment.

But I think the only way I could use this approach safely is to code the UUID generators in C#/.Net and use those rather than the actual GUID values in .Net.

As low as the chances of collisions are, there are a lot of algorithms in use that assume a UUID/GUID is truly unique and that would cause data corruption, loss, or data security issues if the value set isn't truly distinct.

Given that both use the same format, the GUID could be used as the storage type in the application code; you'd just need to use the UUID-based C# id allocation functions/algorithms to produce the value. Each of the two can deal with the string-to-*ID parsing just fine, so maybe this is the best compromise for me to look at using.

How the hell did I wander so far off the beaten path of the main article's topic?

Oh yeah -- the idea of universal devices communicating with each other when the implementation standards conflict with the idea of them being truly universal.

Re:They're not the first to dream (1)

Junta (36770) | about 2 years ago | (#39845407)

I have to confess to not immediately know the UUID/GUID issue. However, UUIDs are generally not 'guaranteed' to be unique, even within RFC compliant generated values. It's just incredibly unlikely. UUIDv1 guarantees uniqueness presuming the mac address used is unique and clock is well behaved, but other than that all bets are off.

Re:They're not the first to dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39844787)

Seriously, educate yourself before posting this sort of thing.

GUIDs and UUIDs are generated differently. Now, here's the part you seem to have missed...there is an area in the ID reserved to indicate the method/version by which it was generated. Microsoft uses one method (and thus one particular value) and Java uses another.

Go read RFC4122 before spewing FUD again.

Re:They're not the first to dream (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#39844847)

Both MS and Java use version 4 generation methods.

This is actually useful. (1)

concealment (2447304) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844421)

Since the ancestors of our modern operating systems came out in the 80s, computing power has increased but so has the data load that the average consumer carries.

It only makes sense to start having smart management systems. Why not integrate heating, A/C, security, messaging and even purchasing of common supplies? We're all going to have home servers anyway for our video and music content, so it's not a stretch to use that machine as a control point for all of these.

Re:This is actually useful. (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#39844799)

It's old hat.

A company by the name of Digital Pockets had come up with the very thing that we're discussing. Linux based. Used OSGi and java plug-ins to provide "applications". They joined forces with another company, Coollogic, to come up with an embedded version of that original base. This was back around 2001-2002 timeframe. How do I know this? I was the CTO of Coollogic at the time. It didn't come together because of lack of funding available and there wasn't any customers willing to shell out $1500 for such a system at the time past a few rich people down in Houston (DP's test market...).

You're still going to see $500-1000 for the price on this system unless you hunker down lower than C# will probably allow them to be in system profile.

Impressive (4, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844429)

The core of HomeOS is described in the white paper as a kernel that is agnostic to the devices to which it provides access,

I'm impressed with the major advances in AI that Microsoft is introducing. Not only does this OS seem to be sentient, but it is also apparently programmed to ponder deep metaphysical concepts.

The kernel must be thinking: "These devices I work with may indeed physically exist. Or they may just be something like a software simulation that's being fed to me. As a humble computer program, I really don't have enough evidence to make a final conclusion either way."

Hopefully M$ Goes Through With This (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844449)

That way when the first person dies from all sorts of malware stemming from the multiple volnerabilities that will plague the new M$ Vista Home Automation OS M$ can finally be punished for first degree murder. First punishment will be to revoke their corporate charter. Then they can charge all execs and stockholders on first degree murder charges then the second punishment will be to sentence them all to life in prison, at Gitmo with little to no nurishment. Finally as punishment give all of their imaginary property to the Free Software Foundation and seize all assets. Alas this is just a pipe dream as the M$ addicts, especially the GOP, will keep defending their precios M$ and even continue to astroturf for M$. Until that happens M$ will continue to be the monopoly they always have been.
--
Friends don't help friends install M$ junk.
Friends do assist M$ addicted friends in committin suicide.

I hope that they follow the standards (2)

jcreus (2547928) | about 2 years ago | (#39844521)

And implement the Hyper Text Coffe Pot Control Protocol [wikipedia.org] and not a closed standard. Huh, who said that was an April 1st joke?

Not interested if it's a MS product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39844523)

Really, after how many years Microsoft has failed to keep even their own Windows OS secure. It's so bad there is a monthly "malicious software removal tool" on top of numerous patches. Trying to make Windows secure is like bailing water out of a sieve.

Now watch the shills come out of the woodwork like rats...

Yawn+stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39844533)

Everything in the home just works, leave it the fuck alone. Why the hell do I need an embedded computer in a coffee pot or a fridge magnet. If the pot holds a hot liquid, it works. Fridge magnet stick to the fridge, done. Those things do their job with zero setup and maintenance. Now I need to setup network+power for all this shit? Integrating disparate systems in an industrial settings is hard enough, I don't want to come home and do work all over again just to have some coffee. Of course you'll need the inevitable antivirus, firewall, and automatic s/w updates for...a coffee pot.

Re:Yawn+stupid (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | about 2 years ago | (#39845225)

Everything in the home just works, leave it the fuck alone. Why the hell do I need an embedded computer in a coffee pot or a fridge magnet. If the pot holds a hot liquid, it works. Fridge magnet stick to the fridge, done. Those things do their job with zero setup and maintenance. Now I need to setup network+power for all this shit? Integrating disparate systems in an industrial settings is hard enough, I don't want to come home and do work all over again just to have some coffee. Of course you'll need the inevitable antivirus, firewall, and automatic s/w updates for...a coffee pot.

Wow - someone didn't get their morning cup of coffee, hmmm? :-)

Seriously though, I agree 100%. Next thing you know people will want the toilet to wipe their butts and flush itself.

HomeOS? (5, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#39844551)

Sounds kinda gay.

Re:HomeOS? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#39844631)

It's Microsoft trying to do things so as to seem "relevant" to the market so their share price can stay more elevated than it ought to be.

Re:HomeOS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39844933)

You'd definitely be the authority on that one, Hatta.

Re:HomeOS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39845259)

Don't expect your split-level to interface with my condo. That requires a three way.

Re:HomeOS? (1)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | about 2 years ago | (#39845267)

until you pointed that out, it didn't occur to me. now everyone is wondering why i spit out my coffee all over my cube.

Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39844553)

Twenty years worth of unsigned, arbitrary code execution, privilege escalation, and not-quite-ready-to-ship distributions give me no reason to trust Microsoft with so much as my toilet or lawn sprinkler. Stick to your desktop and mobile OSes and Office so that you can become irrelevant sooner rather than later.

misterhouse prior art? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39844573)

Can't figure out from the description if its anything more than the prior art of misterhouse from a decade ago running in Perl on Linux. Is it anything more than that?

FiOS (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | about 2 years ago | (#39844583)

Saw a commercial from FiOS 2 nights ago about this. They had someone turning on the lights, setting the temperature, feeding their dog and some other stuff using their smartphone.

http://www22.verizon.com/residentialhelp/homecontrol/home+monitoring+and+control/use/monitoring+devices/129871.htm [verizon.com]

PoE powered tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39844609)

Call me when they make a cheap PoE powered tablet. I will install Android on it then.

Wanted: a problem (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 2 years ago | (#39844733)

This strikes me as a solution looking for a problem. It's cool and all, but is it really necessary to have my fridge know what's inside it and when it expires and alert me on my smart phone or some similar nonsense. Is opening the fridge and checking what's in there really that much of a problem that people are willing to drop multiple $k on home automation? All things being equal, sure I'd take the internet connected fridge over the old "dumb" fridge, but am I willing to pay extra for it?

Re:Wanted: a problem (2)

FTWinston (1332785) | about 2 years ago | (#39844957)

With regards to the fridge knowing what's in it ... how does that even work, without being a major nuisance? Now if they have a small robot climb around inside the fridge overnight, scanning barcodes & weighing the milk, then that's great. Otherwise, how is this not just a hassle for the user? e.g.
  • Dammit, I forgot to scan milk when putting it back in the fridge!
  • Dammit, I didn't align the milk exactly on the milk sensor, and the fridge ordered more!
  • Dammit, I put the milk on the cheese sensor, and the fridge didn't order more!

The cheapest solution would probably be to have a small camera inside the fridge, and get someone on Mechanical Turk to fill out an inventory for you. And that's just sad.

Re:Wanted: a problem (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 2 years ago | (#39845155)

Well, exactly. Presumably the ideal solution (for people pushing this type of stuff) is an RFID chip on your carton of milk. But that costs money, and what do the milk suppliers get in return for the cost of sticking an RFID on every carton? You're gonna buy milk either way if you run out, so I don't really see the advantage (for the seller). If anything, they probably benefit when you accidentally buy milk because you forgot that you had a full carton in the fridge. Especially since milk goes bad - so there's a good chance that some of the extra milk will end up down the drain.

Re:Wanted: a problem (5, Insightful)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | about 2 years ago | (#39845431)

The worst part is when they add in automatic re-ordering. You buy some crap, stick it in the fridge, try it a few weeks later, decide you don't like it, and throw it out. 2 days later, you look in the fridge, and the damn fridge has ordered you a refill of the same crap. So you immediately thruw it out.

Now the *smart* fridge lays in a huge order of crap because you obviously can't get enough of it. And since your birthday is coming up, your smartfridge *suggests* to your friends that you'd really like some presents that mesh with your new-found zeal for crap, and a crap-themed party. So you all end up at some restaurant where you're all secretly grossed out eating the crap, but nobody wants to hurt each others feelings and say "this is crap!" and you don't want to hurt theirs either.

After a few weeks w/o eating anything much, because there's only crap left in the fridge, even though you throw it out every day, your smarttoilet notifies your insurer that you're losing weight, and there must be something wrong with you. You get an email saying that your insurance premiums have now doubled, and that you are required to submit daily test results from your smarttoilet to maintain coverage.

In frustration, you flush the crap from the smartfridge down the smarttoilet, which obviously can't handle it - collaborating with the smartfidge, they come to the conclusion that if you're flushing your favourite crap down the toilet, you might be a danger to yourself or others, notifies the police and locks all the doors.

During your psychiatric evaluation, you refuse to eat crap, even though the smartfidge has reported that you LOVE crap. The shrinks label you as being uncooperative and possibly schizo, since you are obviously not the same crap-loving person you were before you "lost it." They recommend you be held indefinitely for your own protection.

The judge agrees. In frustration, you shout out "Would YOU eat this crap???" The judge says, "of course I do, every day." After all, he's seen too many consequences of rage against the machine to know that resistance is futile. He eats the crap the fridge serves every day, because he knows who the real overlords are.

The real problem... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#39844749)

The really ugly problem with 'Home Automation' doesn't seem to be purely technological(ie. PIRs, contact switches, reed switchs, and relays are antedeluvian, adequate-speed interconnect over assorted wires also ancient, over RF also pretty old, and computers capable of crunching rulesets based on some combination of sensor outputs and RTCs are 80s stuff); but in the fact that the low-hanging fruit is too boring to be worth the trouble and the higher-hanging fruit would be massively complex and require a continual morass of several-industries-wide cooperation...

Boring case, you can drop a relay on each of your light switches, get your thermostat under control, and put some PIR presence detectors in place. If security is a concern, put up some cameras and stash a DVR somewhere. All easy; but not as inexpensive as one might like(especially in jurisdictions where touching mains current means bringing in electricians and permits and stuff), and you really have to want your bitchin' home theatre system to automatically close the drapes and dim the lights, or be very prone to leaving the stove on to fork over the additional money for the ability to remote control those things(and we are all familiar with the office comedy that is frantically waving your arms to make the 'smart' lights turn back on...)

Now, interesting case is where you expose every detail of all the devices in the home, quite possibly adding more sensors depending on the device category, and start having them cooperate intelligently to achieve various objectives. However, this is where the complexity gets ugly. Consider the history of ACPI: They wanted a way to allow computers to be more intelligent about power use, peripheral idle states, and environmental monitoring. Despite being hammered out in a near-duopoly environment(with MS on the software side and Intel on hardware), ACPI was a screaming pile of shit that barely worked properly even on mainstream OEM wintels until comparatively recently(and, even today, there are vendor-specific quirk packages, messy hacks, and peripherals that don't play quite right), never mind the poor bastards who dabbled in DIY or alternate OSes.

Now, you want the Home Of The Future? See to it that your utility meters, consumer appliances, home entertainment electronics, computers, water heaters, plumbing fixtures, climate control and thermostat systems, entry detection and security systems, and who knows what else all expose their sensors and capabilities in a standardized way. Don't let the fact that most of the items on that list have one or more industry consortia squabbling about the details of how their own little fiefdoms will be semi-standardized within themselves, much less on a broader basis, worry you.

Once you have the data to look at and the buttons and knobs to fiddle with, you just need some rulesets that make the devices collaborate intelligently and a set of interfaces that expose the power, but hide most of the complexity, to a degree sufficient that the fancy new hotness is actually worth the trouble.

Basically, you've got a problem whose complexity is fairly similar in scale to the sort of thing that smallish networking/datacenter entities would have an SNMP jocky on hand for, except that none of the hardware actually has management support yet, and the end result has to be easy enough for Joe Consumer to use. Also, it should ideally not be a dystopian surveillance nightmare or a script-kiddie playground. Not an easy problem....

Yet another buggy OS from Billygates?? (1)

mikein08 (1722754) | about 2 years ago | (#39844781)

No thank you. Microsoft cannot even get their Windows product to work reliably after nearly 20 years of trying. Why would we think they can do any better with yet another OS?

What could possible go wrong... (3, Funny)

s0litaire (1205168) | about 2 years ago | (#39844803)

I for one welcome Microsoft Home Automation Line of products...

I feel safe with their Home automation Line

Or H.A.L. for short.......

ermmmm...
on second thoughts...

HomeOS (1)

turing_m (1030530) | about 2 years ago | (#39844829)

With the rise of competitors to challenge it, Microsoft is not seen as the big ogre it once was. And yet its reputation for reliability has never been exceptional.

HomeOS... would you really feel comfortable turning your back to it? Leaving your children alone in the care of HomeOS? And if you were in the shower, I can imagine that HomeOS might allow you to set the temperature on command, e.g. "Four degrees warmer, HomeOS." - "Fabulous!". But if you dropped the soap in there with HomeOS just how would that work exactly?

Call me old fashioned, but I'm just not yet ready to flirt with HomeOS. The whole thing might just be one big PITA.

Re:HomeOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39845169)

And yet its reputation for reliability has never been exceptional.

In the last 2 years, I've had Fedora and Ubuntu break way more often than Windows 7. In my experience, during the last 10-15 years Windows has evolved dramatically, while Linux appears to have regressed.

Java Toaster (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39845029)

I always wanted to make my own Java Toaster [theregister.co.uk] . It burns the weather forecast into your toast in the morning.

Software isn't the problem. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39845127)

Software isn't the problem and hasn't been for a while. All major OSes have options available to them for running home automation, and there are a number of decent automation appliances too should you not want to run your automation on a PC. You can control most of them from your smartphone too, via a web browser or an installed app, depending on the system.

The problem is the hardware. Ignoring the ancient and unreliable X10, you're looking at spending $50 and up per light switch, and the return on investment during a home sale doesn't get close to covering it. Compare that to less than a buck for a standard switch bought in bulk, and it's easy to see why home builders don't often install automation. Retrofitting them is more expensive as now you have to pay the installer too.

The problem with the hardware is twofold. First, the cost of certification testing (to get those UL and CE marks necessary for your insurance to cover fire damage caused by a faulty module) is significant and adds resistance to manufacturers wanting to introduce or evolve their product lines. The second problem is that of compatibility and licensing. Each of the systems (eg UPB) needs to be cross-vendor compatible, but that isn't easy to implement, especially when you get into the details. Remember that when it comes to compatibility the entrenched vendor wins, bugs and all. Would you want to be a startup paying significant licensing and safety certification fees to enter a tiny market where you'd be competing with an existing vendor whose products you'd be compared against?

The result is that we have a chicken and egg situation. We have lack of demand because of the per-switch cost, and high per-switch cost due to the lack of demand.

God love Microsoft for getting into HA, but until we can get decent reliable automation components for ~$10 or less, there just isn't going to be widespread adoption. Here's hoping that this will act as a catalyst.

hardware (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 2 years ago | (#39845163)

coffee pots. lights. garage doors. There is no decent reason to attempt to automate these things and by the time hardware worth automating comes out any software developed now will be as obsolete as BASIC on Commodore 64.

When home's crash, this ain't Kansas no more. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39845325)

"Open the front door, HAL." "I can't do that Dave, it is not in your trusted zone."

"Why does my fridge have active X controls and why does it have something called SourMilk 0day exploit?"

"It looks like you are trying to flush the toilet", Paper clip says, "Would you like help with that?"

"Someone is trying to use the bathroom: Allow or deny."

"Lights on, HomeOS." "Did you say, the Blight is on? All doors have been now bolted for the apocalypse."'

"Mom, all of the picture frames have blue screened again."

I would give my home the voice of Steve Jobs and tell everyone that he was a ghost in the machine. You may laugh, but at least my home would be desirable, secure, and virus clean, although I would have to give Apple a cut of all the groceries.

- DiMM the WiTTed

Um... Yeah.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#39845387)

As someone that has worked in this field for over 6 years. Both home automation and Smart Buildings, Microsoft has a very VERY long way to go. AMX,Vantage, and Crestron all own that market.. And no they dont run a Microsoft OS. In fact it would be utterly retarded to run a full fledged OS for this.

Each device is interconnected on it's own network, most of the time RS485. Redundant controllers on the system ensure high reliability and by only running the code for the systems task, I.E. lighting it further increases reliability. So a typical fully automated home will have about 6-8 controllers. I put in 2 for lighting, 1 for redundant hot backup, because lighting is considered critical. 1 dedicated for security, 1 for hvac, and one in each major media section. Theater get's it's own and one or two is used for the other 6 rooms in the house with tiny 55" Tv's and shared video distribution. I have one dedicated for Whole house audio, and a final one that does side jobs like sprinklers, gathering the weather info, maybe parsing RSS feeds for stocks, news, etc... to be fed to the other systems that all interconnect and can be controlled by the single 6" and 8" touchscreens through the house, or by the ipads and iphones.

NONE of this runs a Microsoft OS. and none of it is designed in any way like their demo homes. Segregated but communicating systems means that if a system goes down you retain a bulk of the operation and only lose the subsystems on that failed branch. Microsoft design will crash to the floor taking it all with it.

Yes, you can design a Crestron or AMX system to crash to the floor, Badly designed systems like that exist out there, typically in homes where they cant afford to do it right so the integrator half asses it. Those systems typically never work smoothly as they overload a controller with too much.

Microsoft has a very long way to go or they need to partner with Crestron and AMX in hopes they adopt this system and throw away 20+ years of reliable consistent operation and switch to a unknown.

When home's crash, this ain't Kansas no more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39845449)

"Open the front door, HAL." "I can't do that Dave, it is not in your trusted zone."

"Why does my fridge have active X controls and why does it have something called SourMilk 0day exploit?"

"It looks like you are trying to flush the toilet", Paper clip says, "Would you like help with that?"

"Someone is trying to use the bathroom: Allow or deny."

"Lights on, HomeOS." "Did you say, the Blight is on? All doors have been now bolted for the apocalypse."'

"Mom, all of the picture frames have blue screened again."

I would give my home the voice of Steve Jobs and tell everyone that he was a ghost in the machine. You may laugh, but at least my home would be desirable, secure, and virus clean, although I would have to give Apple a cut of all the groceries.

- DiMM the WiTTed

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