Home automation and universal remotes…

Universal remotes remain an interesting question for me. I was very excited many years ago with the Miracle Remote. It featured the PPC Operating System and offered the ability to connect not only to my existing X-10 system but my home audio equipment. It was a system before its time.

I moved to the Logitech universal remotes for the years after the Miracle. In part, because I loved their design and in part because they offered what I was seeking, connection to multiple devices. Like the Miracle, I soon found that the promise of connection was much less than the reality of connection.

The integration of devices into a unified remote and therefore a universal remote requires two components. The first is a system that can speak the languages of many companies. Sony, Panasonic, JVC and Samsung all have slightly different languages. Dish Network and DirectTV both have remotes that speak Satellite and TV. They can control other things as well, but not a universal remote.

Control4 systemThe last and now only universal remote in our house is the Control4 remote. In part because it answers the original bell (connect to a home automation system) as well as provide drivers that operate everything in my home. From the thermostat to the lights, from the DVD player to the Cassette player (yes I still have one, and I still have some cassettes). Control them all with one remote. Control4 does that and can integrate much more things than home audio, video and automation.

That got me thinking, Control4 has the most amazing tablet and phone applications that let you control your home from anywhere. That is helpful when you are 200 miles from home when you realize you left the iron on or left the garage door open. Or worse, don’t remember if did or didn’t do either.

The reality that home automation brings is that of control and management. It is also the reality of making it easier to function. One device, to paraphrase Tolkien, to rule them all and in the living room (bedroom, foyer, garage) bind them!

As we move further down this automation path, there will be less and less fracturing and more integration available. Today, it is incredibly hard to integrate home security with home automation, unless you either select the home security system that your automation system uses or get the automation system from your home security provider. That isn’t the best nor is it the optimal solution. You need to be able to build your home automation infrastructure over time, rather than having to stick with one vendor (who can then charge what they will).

The concept of a true free market economy for home automation will drive the future growth. The future growth will drive the prices down to implement a home automation system, increasing the number of home automation systems. I wonder when the integration of such products like Canary, and other video systems will be complete, reducing the rate of home burglaries significantly (hard to get away with robbing someone when they have a picture of you doing it).

All controlled from my universal remote. Well, not my universal remote in your house. You will have to get your own. This one is mine!