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Thread: Project: The Tech House

  1. #1
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Europops

    Project: The Tech House

    This is a project Iím planning sometime in the next year, and itís a big one. What I want to know is what the best way to achieve this is. For the sake of argument letís just say that money is no object because itís easier that way.

    The Tech House

    The current plan is to fit out a house with what some would consider crazy, but functional technology. Yes, Iím going over the top and yes I may not be able to do it all but I want to aim high or Iíll get nowhere near. Letís get down to it.

    When I walk into the house I want the lights to come on automatically and I want to be greeted by the computer. Iíll be able to request, by voice command, music, radio, tv on, adjust heating levels, kettle on, etc. And Iíll be able to do this in every room and hear the music/radio in every room. I think the sound (and light) should follow me around the house, perhaps with a lag before turning off in a room Iíve exited so I can come back without any interruption. Ideally there should be no interruption anyway, so there should be a degree of anticipation Ė the stairway lights and sound being activated should cause the bathroom, bedroom and office to activate because if Iím going upstairs one of these will be the destination.

    All the mirrors in the house Ė bathrooms, bedroom, and entrance hall Ė will be touchscreen and linked to my calendar and email accounts, and probably social networking sites and a browser. Think of something like this: http://www.cybertecturemirror.com/main.php?id=features

    So every room needs mics and speakers, all hidden. And every room will probably need a hardline network connection. I plan to have the computer heart of this in the office, with one computer that runs all this stuff (perhaps this one) and a new one for my usual use. Iím not sure if a wireless network will cut it, but Iím a little reluctant to put in network wiring because itíll eventually become obsolete.

    Iíve no idea what software this will all run on. My tv will be a smart tv, perhaps a Google tv, and for this reason Iím wondering if I could run this all off Android. Obviously Iíve a lot of working out to do, and technology is changing fast.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: not anymore :(
    I think a network of Android and Arduino-based devices should do the trick nicely. The master controller could be something like that, which I guess should only run a simple state machine and delegate specific actions to the low-level drivers and interface devices. You would probably also need a few intermediary slave apparati for low-level devices which do not output to the network (ex. light and temperature sensors, electrical contactors and regulators). There are already several Arduino-based systems for driving contactors, I think there are also people doing some industrial control with it. It was basically tailor-made for such applications.

    As for human interface devices, Android is pretty much your best bet since it offers stable and documented APIs for touch, surface display, vocal commands and audio outputs. Plus it's Linux-based, so there's a good chance that drivers already exist for part of the hardware you would need (mainly screens, digitizers and audio interfaces).
    Last edited by Briareos H; 15th Jun 2012 at 14:39.

  3. #3
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Europops
    Those Arduino devices are interesting! I never thought of using something like that.
    Telepathy is not mind reading. It is the direct linking... ...of nervous systems... ...separated by space.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2007
    Location: Alberta, Canada
    Arduino is your best bet on the hardware side. Theoretically it would be quite simple to do most of the things you're talking about, at least with following you around the house. Logistically more difficult. (hiding speakers, sensors, powering them all etc).

    I am currently working on a bunch of devices I'm building mostly to do with music, but all involve some kind of new and futuristic method of control, and building a future-home was something I have been quite interested in and I might even start a consultation business when i get enough of my own tech developed.

    the touch mirror is easier than you might think and less expensive too, the problem being how thick your walls are. (you can do anything with a projector and some IR light)

    also, if you have an android, download "Touch-OSC" from the market and start learning about Open Sound Control, this is the key to control. OSC is like the new MIDI, even though it's been around for years. It works on UDP protocol and is compatible with TCP, meaning anything you can connect with an ethernet cable or wifi is compatible with OSC. Including Arduino.

    Also, what you are talking about will involve some programming, or at the very least, some algorithmic thinking. To flash programs onto an arduino board you have to write it first, and the Arduino language is almost identical to C. Also take a look at PureData if you're cheap or MaxMSP if you're rich/a student with disposable income. These programs are a very quick way to prototype your control agorithms, and they can also interface with arduino with one of the arduino firmwares that come with the IDE.

    Lots of fun here, let us know of your ideas and any progress you might make.

    http://opensoundcontrol.org/
    http://puredata.info
    www.cycling74.com/max
    www.arduino.cc
    www.sensorwiki.org
    www.hexler.net
    www.nuigroup.org

  5. #5
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Europops
    Gosh, I feel like I'm heading down a rabbit hole here. A potentially awesome one though. I don't have the time at the moment, which is why this is a year long plan, but dammnit I could get into all this.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2007
    Location: Alberta, Canada
    Here SubJeff, I made an OSC primer, you might find it interesting. It's long-ish (15 mins ), a bit about Arduino in there too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQD1S27f3dU

  7. #7
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Europops
    Nice. I'll watch when I get the chance. Thanks

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