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PCs to control your home

In a what seems straight out of a Jetsons episode, consumers will see new appliances that allow them to control their home security, thermostat, and room lighting through their home PCs.

    In what seems straight out of a Jetsons episode, consumers will this spring see new appliances that allow them to control their home security, thermostat, and room lighting through their home PCs.

    The first of the new devices will start popping up in stores by March 1, even before a group of home-appliance makers and computer-industry stalwarts complete the specs designed to wire household appliances--controlling temperature, lights, security and more--into the singular source of the home PC.

    Honeywell--which was a founding member of the Home Plug and Play Task Force along with Intel, Microsoft, and Thomson Consumer Electronics--will debut its version of the "home control" appliance in mid February. The product, which will come complete with software, is scheduled to roll out at 100 Sears stores by March 1, according to Honeywell spokeswoman Ann Drake.

    The task force also plans to issue in March the provisional specifications meant to assure that the home-control products interoperate with household electrical systems that now control lights, heat, and burglar alarms.

    While the specs aren't expected to be released until March 31, the group said other consumer electronics companies will follow Honeywell to market with their own home-control products by the middle of the year.