Software Spotlight ? HomeSeer
HomeSeer 1.6 Automation Software
By Ron Goldberg
It's hard not to give X10 technology the props it deserves, not only for lasting this long, but for evolving over the years. Annoying pop-up Web ads aside, in many ways, X10 is still as cutting-edge as it was in the mid-1970s, when it was controlling Accutrac turntables and introducing America to the idea of simple home automation.
Despite the general perception of X10 as a medium that's too limiting for larger-scale applications, the technology continues to be a powerful and relevant force for affordable home control. Because X10 has been around for so long, the technology is mature and the products are inexpensive. Over the years, clever programmers from both the professional and hobbyist ranks have created some pretty impressive implementations using X10. In many situations and for many homes, X10 automation can be as powerful as the customer needs it to be, at a price that's hard to argue with. HomeSeer, among others, has built a suite of automation software products around the X10 protocol. The HomeSeer system, now in version 1.6, is a Windows-based automation environment that can be controlled through Web access, e-mail and voice control, as well as through the local station. For an asking price of only $99 for the software download ($109 if you want a physical CD), it offers C-tailers a surprisingly comprehensive home automation solution for customers whose budgets don't demand a larger or more elaborate home control implementation.
HomeSeer will run off a garden-variety PC running Windows XP, 2000 or NT (Windows ME and 95 are not supported) through a 300-MHz processor, 64 MB of RAM and 100 MB of hard drive space. If you don't run the voice recognition features, an even slower machine will do the job nicely. In other words, a hardware investment for the HomeSeer system is fairly negligible.