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Smart home apps welcome PLC, Bluetooth

Posted: 18 Aug 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smart home system  PLC  Bluetooth 

The first stage of the Smart Grid initiative—a communications network for thermostats, appliances and electronics that can track and display when and how much energy is being used in a home or business—is now being deployed as new smart meters and energy monitors are being installed in mass. In its next stage, smart home systems will be developed that allow utilities or home users to turn off high energy-consuming appliances where necessary. This requires an internal network within the home, connecting devices and appliances to the smart meter.

A good smart home system must be simple to install and use. For the lowest cost, it should leverage the infrastructure that is already present in a home. It is also important that any smart home interface is both user-friendly and can provide generic access to the broad range of consumer appliances found in a modern home. Finally, consumers require a simple interface that makes it possible to set rules for their home's energy use. They want more options to be available, but they want them to be simple to execute.

Providing the right infrastructure for connecting these devices will determine the success of the smart home. The infrastructure must be easy to set up, inexpensive to install and maintain, and must perform well. The supporting infrastructure should be as easy as possible to set up and the effort to maintain this infrastructure should be minimal. Many existing networking technologies compete to support this mission. For example, a comprehensive Ethernet network can be constructed around the house. Alternatively, wireless networks such as 802.11x, Bluetooth and HomeRF can be constructed by installing multiple interconnected wireless access points and base stations within the home. However, the devices themselves would need wireless capabilities, and the above three infrastructures all require significant effort and cost to build up the networks externally.

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