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|iPad: Ultimate Home Automation Controller?|
|Written by Peter|
|Thursday, 29 December 2011 00:00|
Updated 2012: Having used the iPad for home automation for well over a year now, the pros and cons have become more clear. The increased real estate can be put to very effective use over other controllers, and having an integrated dynamic display is useful for webcams or context sensitive information where the function of the button may change. A negative aspect I've experienced is the additional time of unlocking the iPad and waiting for a network connection (just a few seconds but still can cause you to pause). I've considered putting the iPad into 'never sleep' mode and leaving the device in a permanent state of readiness, as would be the case with a wall-controller, however or a home theater, bedroom or other location where light sensitivity would be an issue this wouldn't be an ideal solution - there may also be the issue of screen longevity, however my preliminary searches indicate it should hold up for 10 years without issue. Still, for these situations a hard-buttoned approach may seem to be a better fit. With prices coming down for used iPads, the opportunity to place dynamic whole home controllers is increasingly achievable by the day.
With the recent announcement from Steve Jobs that Apple will be releasing the iPad in the next 60 days, many people (including myself) were asking "What's the point of the iPad?" After doing a search for this exact phrase and finding numerous discussions, it appears that people such as myself with both a MacBook and an iPhone aren't the target market, as those two devices pretty much cover off any computing I need to do. No, the target market appears to be families with schedules to coordinate (calendar app) and notes to leave (using it as an electronic whiteboard) as well as people who may travel a lot and would prefer to pull out the über-thin iPad to read the paper or email vs a full-fledged laptop.
Troubleshooting and remote control could be accomplished via remote desktop, and the plethora of existing iPhone apps out there can run without modification as an interface to your home automation system. One of the ones I'm more familiar with, HomeSeer has an interface designer which can be used to control Insteon, Z-Wave, X10 and the like and is specifically tailored to custom devices such as this. Simply select a new screen in the designer with the correct resolution (1024x768 for the iPad) then drag and drop the buttons for your kitchen, living room etc until you've created a custom iPad home automation interface. Include weather, security cameras and lighting status/controls to your at-a-glance screen and save the profile. Launch HSTouch on the iPad and configure it to use the new profile - Done.
While technically you can use any existing iPhone home automation app on the iPad, you have to use the "2x" button to fill the screen with the interface, and it's really kind of wasting the best part of the iPad: the large screen. The beauty of the HomeSeer setup is that you can actually use the screen, although I'm sure it won't be long before other manufacturers realize the potential and start adapting (Myro seems to "get it" - pity they only work with HAI for now).
I haven't touched upon web-interfaces yet, but that's another avenue that could show promise for quick gains once the iPad is released. Without the ability to go "full screen" with the browser, the top URL bar constantly being present will be a deal-breaker for any permanent installation however.
Being only half an inch thick can be a real benefit in this situation as well since you can essentially place a frame around it and mount it on the wall without a specialized drywall cutout. All things considered, I'm actually looking forward to the iPad launch now and I'll seriously consider getting one for this purpose down the road.
What are your thoughts on the iPad as a home automation controller?
|Last Updated on Thursday, 26 April 2012 17:03|