Home Automation? Mac iphone sync your house.

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by jrichman63, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. jrichman63 macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2006
    Pacifica, CA
    Home Automation? Mac iphone sync your house.

    Does anyone know how to setup or have and mac based home automation. Is it possible to controll via a iphone from work? if so how?
  2. Analog Kid macrumors 601

    Analog Kid

    Mar 4, 2003
    I haven't set anything up myself, but I've been interested in it for a while... I'm looking forward to any responses you get.

    Accessing it from the iPhone would be pretty sweet, actually. Shouldn't be too hard to do it via web.
  3. Dreadnought macrumors 68020


    Jul 22, 2002
    Almere, The Netherlands
    Well I have read an article in the Dutch Mac Magazine. They had old Apple USB keyboard and used them as input and output devices. With it you could do a bit of home automation.
  4. Aeolius macrumors 6502a

    Jul 25, 2002
    Here's the Mac-Based Smart Home list I work on, when time permits:

    While our new home was being constructed to allow easier access for my son's wheelchair, I began to investigate other means and technologies that would improve his quality of life. Currently proficient with an Apple MacBook Pro, Josh is familiar with the Macintosh Platform. Therefore, in my quest for a "smart home" solution, I called several home automation companies in my area. Most replied with the typical "appliance salesman" response, offering an embedded Crestron (appliance control) and Lutron (lighting control) solution. Another specialized solely in HAI systems, an expensive proprietary solution combining both lighting and appliance control. None seemed to offer the "Think Different" approach that I was looking for. None offered a package that included proven assistive technologies.

    I looked at Mac OS X, the current Operating System for the Macintosh, and the more feature-laden Mac OS Server. Containing a wealth of Accessibility Solutions, such as Speech Recognition and VoiceOver, an audible interface for those with visual impairments, Mac OS X seemed the perfect solution for Josh's needs, yet none of the Home Automation bids I received took advantage of Apple's operating system.

    Using the Macintosh OS and accompanying hardware such as the Mac Pro or Xserve, I can establish a wireless network throughout the home, using a combination of the Airport Extreme Base Station coupled with several Airport Express modules to expand the range of the wireless network. The newest base stations support the 802.11n draft standard and allow the connection of shared hard drives and printers. This would allow Josh to use a laptop computer, such as the MacBook Pro, anywhere within the house. Macintosh OS X also includes Bonjour, a messaging program that would allow all networked computers in the home to connect with one another for intercom-like functionality. For outdoor use, a more robust solution, such as the D-Link DWL-7700AP Wireless Outdoor Access Point, could be coupled with the Airport Extreme Base Station.

    In addition to Mac OS X, there are several software applications, which would improve Josh's independence, within the house. Indigo 2.0, a home control server, would allow Josh to remotely control lights, fans, appliances, and other devices, using his MacBook Pro. This software interfaces with both INSTEON and X10 compatible devices, including PowerLinc interfaces. In essence, I could replace a wall switch or electrical outlet with a PowerLinc device, which would utilize the home's existing wiring and only require the services of an electrician, to give Josh control of turning on his own lights, closing his blinds, and other typical daily activities. INSTEON thermostats and sprinkler modules are also available.

    To assist Josh with his leisure time, I have looked at the Kaleidescape Movie Server System, which would allow Josh to access numerous DVDs without having to physically handle the discs. For a shared audio solution, Apple's iTunes application, part of Mac OS X, will link the music libraries of each networked Macintosh in the house and play the music through speakers connected to Airport Express modules. Apple has also released the Apple TV, a device that will connect to a standard television and transfer media, such as music, movies, and pictures, from a nearby Macintosh network. A hard drive filled with archived movies, connected to an Airport Extreme, and accessed by the Apple TV would also be an option, when coupled with various decryption applications.

    Should a fire or similar emergency arise, I equipped the home with a limited arrangement of automatic doors. For external doors, I used two Open Sesame door units. These could be controlled either from an external keypad, interior pushpad, or X10 computer interface. As Josh's room contains two pocket doors, one leading into the body of the room and another leading into the bathroom, I used two Gentleman Sliding Door Operators, a pneumatic device requiring the use of an external air compressor. This same device can be configured to open Josh's windows and is X10 compatible, accessible using his MacBook Pro and Indigo software.

    For an additional measure of security, network security cameras, such as the Toshiba IK-WB11A or Panasonic BL-C30A, could be installed, both inside the home and outdoors. These would be accessed from Josh's iBook using an application called SecuritySpy. Other cameras, such as the Axis 207 series of network cameras, work within Bonjour. For additional surveillance a mobile camera, found on devices such as the Erector Spykee robot or the Surveyor SRV-1, could be controlled and viewed from any Mac in the house.

    To access Indigo, SecuritySpy, Bonjour, or Mac OS X in locations not equipped with a computer workstation, a touch screen wall panel can be created by combining a Xenarc 700TS with a Mac Mini, a solution far lest costly than similar touch screen offerings from HAI and comparable home automation companies. Although less feature-laden, an iPod Touch could also be used to access an Indigo control panel, by means of a web browser.

    Should voice recognition within Mac OS X prove unreliable, there are other options, such as the AVSI Mastervoice Series II, a voice-activated home automation system compatible with X10. This solution is not interoperable with the Mac OS or INSTEON, however.

    As our new home was constructed on a 20-acre farm, I have investigated several options that would allow Josh to participate in both daily chores and leisure activities. Using a hardware interface such as the LabJack U3 USB based multifunction data acquisition and control device, coupled with an automated feeder like the Agpro Pro Feeder, Josh would be able to use Indigo to feed our horses, goats, pigs, alpacas, and dogs. Using the Rain8 X10 Sprinkler Controller, he would be able to refill their water bowls as well. A LabJack might also allow Josh to monitor and maintain our indoor aquariums or an outdoor koi pond, using an application called Maquarium.

    Mounting a computer, either a laptop such as the MacBook Pro or MacBook or a smaller unit such as the Mac Mini, directly on Josh's wheelchair could circumvent many dilemmas such as whole-house voice activation. The GimpGear Mobile Power Kit would provide a DC automobile accessory power adapter from a wheelchair battery, allowing for the connection of a computer, wireless access point, and other necessary equipment. Mounted next to the wheelchair joystick, an interface such as the Optimus mini three keyboard could be used for common functions, so that access to a full-sized keyboards would not be required.

    I know I do not posses the knowledge or time necessary, on my own, to create an Environmental Control Unit (ECU) for Joshua. I lack the experience and resources to properly wire the system and use Mac OS X to concoct appropriate AppleScript/Automator routines, devise widgets, and troubleshoot.
  5. Aeolius macrumors 6502a

    Jul 25, 2002
    Very nice. You've been busy, since you posted the YouTube video that you linked to, over on the Perceptive Automation forums. ;) I assume you're using the Indigo 2.0 web interface on the iPhone? An iPod Touch would probably work similarly, taking the place of a Mac Mini+Xenarc combo.

    I reworked the above info into a web page, so I could include links:
  6. SmarthomeTrevor macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2008
    Irvine, CA

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