If your buyers want the ultimate in home automation but don't have the high-tech know-how, check out the system Maryland builder Michael T. Rose installed in his own home.
"I wanted a system that would work by pushing a few buttons," Rose says. "I needed to make life simpler, not more complicated." Rose found a state-of-the-art network by Custom Command Systems of College Park, Md. The system integrates all of the home's electronic functions: audio/video, security, lighting, heating and cooling, and telephone/intercom. It is controlled by five different devices, including five full-color touch screens, 11 touch-tone telephones, hand-held remotes, decorative touch switches, and a dramatic voice-recognition feature.
The system does it all, and that carries a price. Custom Command's systems range from $40,000 to $100,000. But for Rose the magic lies in how easy it is to use. Instead of computer commands, touch screens display easy-to-understand floor plans and symbols. To play a compact disc in the living room, for example, Rose touches "Audio/Video" on the screen. A floor plan appears with symbols for all of the components on the side. He then touches the symbol for his 100-CD changer--which looks like a stack of discs--and drags his finger along the screen's surface until he reaches the living room; the symbol follows his finger until he lifts off. After lift-off, music automatically plays in the living room. If Rose wants to listen to a different disc, he touches the CD-changer symbol. A small display pops up showing CD controls; he touches "Disc" and selects another CD from an index organized by music type.
From a touch screen in the spectacular home-theater room, Rose can control any of the home's audio and video components and assign them to screens and speakers throughout the house. To play a video on the theater's projection screen, he touches the VCR symbol and drags it to the screen's symbol on the floor plan and lifts off, which starts the video.
The system's "mood" settings make functions more automatic. For each mood--"Good Morning," "Day Party," "Romantic Evening," for example--the system is programmed to play certain music, turn on or dim certain lights, or open or close certain window blinds.
In addition to the touch screens, Rose can control many functions through a single hand-held remote that replaces the myriad remotes that would be needed if the components weren't integrated. He can also call in commands on a touch-tone phone; the system talks to him and tells him which buttons to push.
The system also recognizes voice commands. Trained to respond only to the voice of Rose and his wife, Carol, it carries out commands and verbally reports the status. For example, when Rose says, "Good morning," from the master bedroom, the blinds open, certain lights come on, the radio plays, and the tub fills up.
Voice functions also contribute to the home's security system. When a car pulls up, sensors alert the system, which announces, "A car has entered the driveway"; then, "Someone is at the front door." A video camera at the front door turns on, and the image can be seen on the touch screens. Rose can unlock the door by touching the door's image on the screen.
All of these functions merge at the system's master controller in the utility room. The master consists of a dedicated computer with software that interfaces with the individual equipment's controllers, plus a rack of components connected to the equipment through low-voltage hard wire.
PHOTO : By touching the small screen a few times, builder Michael T. Rose can assign a video disc, videotape, or television to any of the monitors in his home-theater room.
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|Title Annotation:||computer controlled home entertainment and security system|
|Author:||Jones, David A.|
|Date:||Feb 1, 1992|
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