Integration and consolidation is the name of the game for
all technology. It used to be the
smaller the gadget the more chic, but now it is how many functions you can
limit to just a few areas. It began with
the monolithic home computer that began to allow you to watch movies and listen
to music. As we began to port those
functions to our portable devices and iPhones people saw the possibility for
integrating functions only packed to the recesses of our imagination, or at
least late night cable channels.
iPhone has proven its ability to also act as a remote for limited features on
your iTunes’, but now outside developers are trying to break it out of the
shell of tradition it has conventionally been trapped by. Home Automation, which is the integration of many
electrical features in the home, may be the next step for bringing the iPhone
into absolutely every area of daily life.
Home Automation can mean a number of different things, such
as bringing together all the heating and cooling controls of your house or all
the entertainment centers. Lighting is
an area that is often difficult to conceive of for Home Automation as switches
are found standard in most homes. X10
Home Automation has been developing technology for decades that can be used to
basically control these power center in your home.
What the X10 Home Automation technology does is ask you to
set a base controller, which as they state “can be any number of things
including a simple plug-in device, a wireless remote or motion sensor and transceiver
or even your PC.” From there the
information it sent to power lines to instruct the different functions on your
electrical grid to do what your wish.
This sounds like a much more complicated process than it
ends up being as you basically use different integrated product from X10 to
create a network that is the size that you actually want. First you can purchase a device from X10 to
connect directly to a light source, such as free standing lamp. There are a variety of these under the industry standard of X10 that transfer the information with radio frequency bursts.
From there you get an X10 controller to
connect to your computer, from which you use associated server piece on your
computer so as to actually control the device attached to the light from your
The final stage of the X10 Home Automation process is really
to download and install their iPhone application that will connect to this
software and then follow its controls down the line to the object you want to
control. This iPhone application states
you that you can control up to sixty items in your home right from your iPhone,
but you have to have the proper X10 equipment for each device to make this
work. What this iPhone application
actually does is allows you to control all of these X10 devices through the
central hub of the server piece, which then in turn control the home features
they are attached to.
This is not cheap or incredibly easy, and once you actually purchase
all of the X10 equipment you will have to go in and spend $9.99 on the iPhone
application (X Commander). The price is not, however,
the main thing that should be considered here (try MobiLinc Lite for free).
If you will be able to make this work then you really have integrated
the iPhone into your home operations in a way that is beyond what even the more
high end users are doing. You may want
to keep this limited to things like main lights, televisions, and garage doors
at first, but after a while you may be able to even get kitchen appliances on
Care to see advanced lighting control with iPhone? Check out Luminair app (DMX lighting control). You never know what kind of ambient light you will need in your dorm room or apartment. Keep in mind this app requires different set-up compare what we described above, not X10 but DMX.
Resources to get your iPhone home automation project started:
1. List of requirements for X Commander control software. Before you buy anything just make sure that you have everything organized and you understand requirements.
2. You can order components (controlers, X10 plugs, server) at x10.com. Word of caution they sell their stuff like late night infomertials with Crazy Eddie’s flare
3. Learn more about DMX light control here. This is more expensive option for iPhone light control compare to X10, but you can see from the video above that results are amazing.
4. Read our article on How To Turn Your iPhone Into The Ultimate Remote