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Automatic for the people

For most of us, home automation starts, and stops with the washing machine! But things are
changing, and the latest trends in the US indicate that the smart money is in Smart houses.
Myles Cummings passes on the intelligence

n the States (where else?) home automation is already a multi-
million-dollar business and growing rapidly. Smart homes are the
new buzzwords in real estate agentese, along with Smartphones
for their owners, which allow them to switch on the lights, fire up the
gas hearth, and cue up some tunes as they pull into the driveway.
Once inside the living is easy, and automatic. With a few taps on a
flat panel display, Mr Smartie can reset the security alarm, draw the
blinds, dim the lights, turn off his "Best of Huey Lewis " CD, summon
a plasma screen TV from what was moments ago just a white coun-
tertop and settle down to watch 'Matrix Revolutions' or any one of
600 DVDs he has stored on the home's media server.
Once this kind of lifestyle was the preserve of Silicon Valley's
nerdy elite and in truth Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are still 'pushing the
envelope' in Valley speak when it comes to multimillion dollar net-
worked homes. But it seems that more and more Americans are
demanding more than automatic garage doors and burglar alarms
from their new properties and a whole new industry has evolved to
supply this new demand for domestic functionality.
Companies like Mitra Home Technologies, High Definition
Home, Smart Home USA are a few of around 1,000 firms worldwide
devoted to building custom networked homes.
Their business is based on helping customers choose what to buy,

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