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Home Automation

Home automation is the residential extension of building automation. It is automation of the home, housework or household activity. Home automation may include centralized control of lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), appliances, security locks of gates and doors and other systems, to provide improved convenience, comfort, energy efficiency and security. Home automation for the elderly and disabled can provide increased quality of life for persons who might otherwise require caregivers or institutional care.

The popularity of home automation has been increasing greatly in recent years due to much higher affordability and simplicity through smartphone and tablet connectivity. The concept of the "Internet of Things" has tied in closely with the popularization of home automation.

A home automation system integrates electrical devices in a house with each other. The techniques employed in home automation include those in building automation as well as the control of domestic activities, such as home entertainment systemshouseplant and yard watering, pet feeding, changing the ambiance "scenes" for different events (such as dinners or parties), and the use of domestic robots. Devices may be connected through a home network to allow control by a personal computer, and may allow remote access from the internet. Through the integration of information technologies with the home environment, systems and appliances are able tocommunicate in an integrated manner which results in convenience, energy efficiency, and safety benefits.

Automated "homes of the future" have been staple exhibits for World's Fairs and popular backgrounds in science fiction. However, problems with complexity, competition between vendors, multiple incompatible standards, and the resulting expense have limited the penetration of home automation to homes of the wealthy, or ambitious hobbyists. Possibly the first "home computer" was an experimental home automation system in 1966.

Home automation system include the following types of devices.

  • Sensors to measure or detect things like temperature, humidity, daylight or motion.
  • Controllers such as a PC or a dedicated home automation controller,
  • Actuators such as motorized valves, light switches and motors.
  • Buses for communication that can be wired or wireless.
  • Interfaces for human-machine and/or machine-to-machine interaction.

One or more human-machine and/or machine-to-machine interface devices are required, so that the residents of the home can interact with the system for monitoring and control; this may be a specialized terminal or, increasingly, may be an application running on a smart phone or tablet computer. Devices may communicate over dedicated wiring, or over a wired network, or wirelessly using one or more protocols. Building automation networks developed for institutional or commercial buildings may be adapted to control in individual residences. A centralized controller can be used, or multiple intelligent devices can be distributed around the home.

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