Home automation software products are the ‘brains’ behind many of today’s smart homes. Products in this category are designed to let you remotely manage and control lighting, heating, security, and entertainment systems in your home. Automation software products let you centrally control all major residential subsystems via your computer, remote control, smart phone, land-line or the Web.
Software for X10-based Automation Products
Home automation software tools are designed to work with a wide range of emerging smart home hardware products based on the X10 protocol. Products based on X10, including light switches, dimmers and thermostats, can be controlled remotely from a central location. For example, an X10-enabled light switch can be turned on and off using a remote control device from anywhere in the house. Many X10 devices these days are IP-enabled, which means they can be controlled over the Internet as well.
Control Lighting and Entertainment Systems
Smart home software tools allow you to control and manage X10-based products more effectively. The software allows you to create simple programs or triggers that get activated when certain specified conditions are met. For example, you can use automation software to set triggers for turning the lights on and off at specified times of the day, such as sunrise and sunset. You could use the software to create scene lighting effects, or to turn on specific music when motion is detected within your home. You could write a macro that turns on an interior or exterior light depending on external light conditions.
Automation Software for Home Security
Similarly, you can use home automation software to set triggers for your home security system and video surveillance cameras. You could write programs for turning on all the lights in your home, or for sounding an audible alarm, when something abnormal happens. You could even set triggers that alert you at work or displays live video images and feeds from your surveillance cameras so you can see instantly what might have set off the alarm.
Support for Multiple Operating Environments
Many of the available home automation software products are either based on, or are fully compatible with, Microsoft Windows environments and development tools. That means you can run such software on your home PC or on most standard hand-held devices and smart phones. A majority of available home automation software products also allow you to create custom management interfaces for other operating system environments, including Windows CE, Linux systems, Mac OS, iPhone and the iPod Touch.
How to Select Smart Home Software
There are several issues that you need to keep in mind when selecting home automation software products.
- Make sure than any product you choose has all of the features you are looking for. If you want to be able to control your home subsystems over the Internet, make sure the software is IP-enabled and can be remotely accessed over the Web. If voice recognition and voice commands are important to you, verify that the software tool support voice commands.
- Compatibility is another key issue. Most automation software products are designed to work with a wide range of X10 hardware. However, before you buy the software, verify if it is compatible with the smart home hardware products in your home.
- Software for home automation must be easy to use. When buying the software, consider how easy and intuitive it is to use. You should be able to write macros or triggers in a fairly easy and uncomplicated manner. Avoid purchasing overly complicated or feature-laden software tools unless you are an advanced technology user or have used such software before.
Home automation software products can help you get the most out of your automation hardware so long as you make sure to purchase software that has all the features you are looking for and that is also user friendly and easily configurable.