A Clever Way to Build Home Automation Rules, Events

We’ve come a long way in scripting home automation events, which used to entail complicated programming of IF, THEN, ELSE rules.

Virtually all established home automation vendors now enable such “scripting” via simple drop-down menus. But even in these cases, it can take several clicks to create one simple event (If side door opens, turn on Z-Wave mud-room lights), especially when there are lots of devices in the system.

And it’s even more challenging to create these behaviors on the fly with a small mobile device. For example, if it occurs to me upon entering the side door that I really want the mud-room lights to come on, it isn’t easy to pull out the cellphone, get to the configuration screen and scroll through a bunch of devices and options.

There is an easier way. I happened upon an interesting new concept to define events even more simply than current paradigms allow. It is implemented in the prototype HomeMaestro control system developed by Shaun Salzberg and other students in the MIT Media Lab.

In the HomeMaestro environment, here is how you would “program” the above scenario:

  • Press RECORD.
  • Open the door [command appears in WHEN box].
  • Click the THEN box.
  • Turn on the light [command appears in THEN box].
  • Press SAVE.

In addition, a user can “Upload your creations to the Rule Store or download rules created by others to quickly and easily add behaviors to your home,” as the HomeMaestro video suggests.

I hope the video provides manufacturers and integrators a few ideas on the next great GUI for home control.

A user sets a smart thermostat for the WHEN event simply by changing the temperature.

[Thanks, Derek Flickinger]

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