Yesterday was the setup for an eye-opening smart home adventure for my new custom home. Here's the conclusion:
I found lots of solutions that weren't robust enough for my application. One of the best was by Control4, a venture-funded startup in Salt Lake City, Utah. Control4's products are wireless and perfect for retrofitting an existing home since they don't require structured cable. Still, I had the luxury of wiring the house, which in my perhaps overly-conservative way of thinking is more bulletproof than wireless, so I kept on searching.
The best solution I could find for new home construction was Lifeware by Exceptional Innovation. Lifeware integrates with Windows and now Vista Media Center, creating a single interface and relatively seamless integration between subsystems. I even found a contractor capable of designing, networking and installing all the subsystems.
I was more than a bit queasy about Microsoft having any part in controlling my home. What if it crashed? Would the whole house turn blue until I rebooted it? And how exactly do you reboot a house? What if a virus or a worm or spyware got in? But Lifeware was supposed to be bulletproof, so I temporarily set my fear aside while I awaited the all important price-tag.
I was really excited to get the contractor's proposal. I involuntarily held my breath as I opened the attachment and then scrolled down to the bottom of the six-page document. After the initial shock wore off, I was finally able to breath again. I called another vendor for a sanity check. Same thing.
I wondered if these people were smoking something or maybe I'm just cheap? I didn't believe the latter, since I was building a relatively expensive home. I'll let you decide. Here's the math:… Read more