Smart Home Software and Technology
Information Source: (HowStuffWorks Home & Garden)
Home automation has a long and fitful history. For many years, tech trends have come and gone, but one of the first companies to find success is still around.
The genesis of many smart home products was 1975, when a company in Scotland developed X10. X10 allows compatible products to talk to each other over the already existing electrical wires of a home. All the appliances and devices are receivers, and the means of controlling the system, such as remote controls or keypads, are transmitters. If you want to turn off a lamp in another room, the transmitter will issue a message in numerical code that includes the following:
- An alert to the system that it’s issuing a command,
- An identifying unit number for the device that should receive the command
- A code that contains the actual command, such as “turn off.”
All of this is designed to happen in less than a second, but X10 does have some limitations. Communicating over electrical lines is not always reliable because the lines get “noisy” from powering other devices. An X10 device could interpret electronic interference as a command and react, or it might not receive the command at all.
While X10 devices are still around, other technologies have emerged to compete for your home networking dollar. Instead of going through the power lines, many new systems use radio waves to communicate. That’s how BlueTooth, WiFi and cell phone signals operate.
Two of the most prominent radio networks in home automation are ZigBee and Z-Wave. Both of these technologies are mesh networks, meaning there’s more than one way for the message to get to its destination.