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ZigBee Pro, the New Home Automation Standard? 170

An anonymous reader writes "Echelon, Microsoft, Intel, Sun and the Electronic Industries Alliance have been trying to create a home automation standard for two decades — to no avail. Now the ZigBee Alliance, proprietor of a low-rate two-way wireless mesh networking technology, says it will prevail. In six weeks, automation vendor Control4, which has about one million ZigBee nodes installed, will flip the switch on the new ZigBee Pro, which promises interoperability among light switches, thermostats, door locks, motorized shades, security systems, remote controls and some 36 million electric meters."
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ZigBee Pro, the New Home Automation Standard?

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  • by senorpoco ( 1396603 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @02:58PM (#28086381)
    I love the idea of home automation, then I realize that my light switch isn't that far away.
  • by toppavak ( 943659 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @03:01PM (#28086413)

    light switches, thermostats, door locks, motorized shades, security systems, remote controls and some 36 million electric meters.

    But I'd really prefer if my locks remain off any kind of network and have my security system talk over good old-fashioned copper.

  • by McGregorMortis ( 536146 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @03:01PM (#28086417)

    I've been hearing about ZigBee and Z-Wave for years. But if you look at what's out there available to you, it's crap. Poor selection, limited capability, and a high price.

    Meanwhile, Smarthome and their INSTEON protocol have a broad selection of very powerful and flexible components, available today at a good price. For a DIY home-automation job, there's no contest.

    Personally, I think INSTEON will become the de-facto standard that takes over from X-10. The others are just not competitive in the ways that matter.

    I sound like a shill, I know. Sorry. I just like Smarthome stuff. But I wish they wouldn't embarrass me by hawking pseudo-science crap like electromagnetic water softeners.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25, 2009 @03:06PM (#28086463)

    I've got zwave at home, and the fact that my harmony just works with it makes it hands down the winner. Insteon needs a ir adapter, and the support just isnt there.

    Not to mention phase couplers and the apparent lack of any guaranteed functionality made my decision that much more black and white.

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <`moc.stiucricve' `ta' `ive'> on Monday May 25, 2009 @03:16PM (#28086581) Homepage

    The main problem with advanced home automation is the cost, inoperability between brands (which works into the cost since you have to buy everything from the same company) and basic problems with those networks. They mostly work in the 2.4GHz band (where the average microwave oven and just about any wireless device operates) which causes random issues with connectivity and synchronization. And then they have the most awful interfaces to program it. They mostly work in Windows and crash at random are difficult to decipher and if you're lucky enough to get a web interface you're stuck with ActiveX controls. And then if you want to make it work with other things, there is no scripting language for it.

  • by Old97 ( 1341297 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @03:25PM (#28086691)
    Does it run on Linux?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25, 2009 @03:28PM (#28086719)

    Home automation != computers. Something that all those creating a "standard" seem to forget. Home automation standards need to be simple, secure, robust, guaranteed to be available for about 20 years, and being able to function independent from a PC. (Chances are that the PC as we know it may not even exist anymore in 20 years)

    Usually these requirements fall victim to some compromise. I mean, wireless connections ?, come on, don't tell me that you think the security system will not be completely ripped apart in 20 years. Hell, I doubt it survives the first 5 years.

  • by dfghjk ( 711126 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @03:32PM (#28086771)

    It's easy to think this way until you've actually purchased INSTEON products, then you'll beg for just about anything else. I'm in the process of replacing my INSTEON crap right now.

  • lack of vision. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by simp ( 25997 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @03:35PM (#28086789)

    As someone who earns his money in industrial automation it amazes me how limited these home automation firms think. They want me to buy multiple sensors each with only one I/O point on them??? They want me to buy plastic toy-like stuff that breaks if you push the contact a few thousand times? And then there is the matter of future-proofing: in 5 years time nobody will be able to read the sensors anymore that you bought because "everybody" is on the new standard. What about spare parts for existing stuff, are they expecting me to rewire the house each time they come up with a new platform? Not a chance.

    Then there is software: Windows XP, maybe with .net, was a valid choice for building the interface when the company designed it a few years ago but I expect my light switch to last at least 25 years.

    These days you can run an oil refinery with a touch of a button and keep it running for 20 years with available spare parts. And you can get data in & out of that system in any format you want. Show me the same on a scaled down version for my home and I'll start installing it...

  • by Anpheus ( 908711 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @04:02PM (#28087057)

    I realize the attempt at humor, but they measure electrical usage, and the more a home owner is able to directly observe their electrical usage, the more ably they can reduce it.

    I for one would love to see a manufacturer come out with wall outlets that have built in (toggling) LCD/LED power usage displays. Power strips with per-outlet usage information.

    When users start seeing those "vampire devices" sit idle for hours on end, doing nothing except maybe keeping a few LEDs lit but still costing 5, 10, 20 watts, they'll start shutting them off. If everyone does that, that's megawatts.

  • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @04:55PM (#28087535) Homepage Journal

    I love the idea of home automation, then I realize that my light switch isn't that far away.

    I'm sure you were going for +5 Funny, but somehow you wound up at Insightful instead.

    To enlighten the mods a little: home automation is less about having to leave your couch to turn off the light than it is about giving your house the ability to control itself according to parameters that you specify.

    These days, anyone can write a program that runs on their computer. Only a few of us so far can run a program that runs on our house.

  • Re:lack of vision. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by simp ( 25997 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @06:00PM (#28088121)

    Not industrial grade, a bit scaled down for home use. But it has to last much longer than an average personal computer. I expect my fridge to last 15 years, the water boiler at least 20, the wall sockets and wiring in the house will probably last 50 years.

    Right now 99% of all home automation equipment are gadgets. Yes they do work for the first 1 or 2 years, but after that? Who knows...

    And then you are stuck with a not-quite working semi-autonomous robot house that will make bad decisions based on wrong sensor inputs. And there are enough bad Hollywood movies on that subject already.

  • by drizek ( 1481461 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @07:15PM (#28088773)

    Every security system can be compromised. You only prefer copper because you know more about hacking than you know about lock picking.

  • by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @07:17PM (#28088797)
    I don't want my power company having control over my dishwasher. That's complete nonsense.

    Excel here wanted to install a device that would allow them to shut down the air conditioner for up to 40 minutes at a time. I think the max limit was something like 4 times per day.
    What were they willing to offer in return? $25. Not $25 PER BILL, just $25 ONCE.
    Again, complete nonsense.

    I'd like to use less power and home automation seems like a convenient way to achieve that. But there's no way in hell that I'm going to let my power company decide when I can use the electricity I'm paying for.
  • by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @07:20PM (#28088819)
    It's not remote control that's the biggest issue. It's automation.
    It isn't important that I can control my lights from my desk rather than walking over to the switch. The important thing is the ability for your house to realize that you just went to work in your car and you therefore don't need your lights on, the air conditioner doesn't need to keep the house as cool, the TV should be off, the computer monitor should be off, etc.
  • Re:lack of vision. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @07:35PM (#28088933)
    There a difference between industrial grade products rated for high criticality applications and products that aren't shit.

    We're aiming for somewhere in the middle.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak