Nearly every modern home or office already has a
number of automated devices. These can include:
- Simple (or programmable) thermostats.
- Telephone caller ID boxes.
- Messaging systems.
- Programmable VCRs and hi-fi equipment. Etc.
- Internet services.
- Information services
- Automatic garage door openers.
- Security systems of varying complexity.
- Automatic sprinkler systems.
- Motion sensors to control lighting, etc.
- Electronic door locks.
- Intercom systems.
However, automated devices in and of themselves do not comprise either a home
or office automation system. With no integration and no centralized
control, these automated devices are merely isolated "islands" of automation. In this situation, device control and intelligence could be described as
non-centralized or totally distributed.
Conversely, a inclusive automation system provides a high degree of
integration, and at least some degree of centralized control. The equipment
in the system must be physically and logically integrated in a manner that
enables commands to be sent from a controller to a number of controlled
devices, no matter where they are located relative to the controller. Total
centralization is not required; there may be more than one controller,
and controllers may have redundant capabilities. The point to stress is
that integrating equipment into a system allows many different control
For example, a single controller could directly control or program lighting,
security, heating, air conditioning, audio, video, telephone, intercom,
and other functions. Extra controllers could be installed in different
rooms, providing the same control functions (or a subset of those functions).
Comprehensive automation systems can also utilize feedback from sensors
and controlled devices to enhance functionality and provide more information
to the user.
The range of automation device and control options is virtually endless.
There is no single configuration that can typify a home or office automation
system. Every system must be compatible with the unique set of connected
equipment items and the physical characteristics of the site. It must also
be designed to satisfy the needs and budget of the client.
The following topics discuss basic home automation concepts as well
as some different approaches to home automation systems.
What Can Be Automated?
Virtually any electrical or mechanical device or subsystem inside or outside
of your home can be automated, at least to some extent.
Because of the wide range of devices and subsystems that you can integrate
in a home automation system, it is essential that you select a system that
is flexible, expandable, upgradable, and cost effective. It should be
a system that is easy to set up and program, and provides a consistent
programming interface that doesn't require you to learn new programming
techniques every time you add a new device to your system.
AMX Corporation has developed a leading-edge approach to home automation
that successfully addresses all of these concerns. However, before looking
at the AMX system, we should have a brief look at some other approaches
to home automation.
Note: Because of the huge range of characteristics specific to the various
systems and components that can be automated, a home automation system
can become quite complex. To avoid problems, you should only attempt to
automate systems that you are familiar with. I.S.I. strongly recommends
that you thoroughly research any unfamiliar home systems or devices (or
consult with us) before attempting to incorporate them into an AMX NetLinx or PHAST Landmark
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