'Smart home' could ride in on Z-Waves
Morris and James Carey Associated Press Feb. 4, 2006 12:00 AM
The "smart home" is not a new concept. And although we've observed the technology steadily emerge for several years now, we believe that the ultimate smart home that all of us really seem to be looking for is still in its infancy.
Mostly this seems to stem from the fact that the corporate world hasn't been able to come up with a model that is capable of managing all of the systems in the home in a simple, inexpensive and easy-to-install package. What we need is a catalyst, someone who will bring all of these great new ideas together into one package, someone to make a smart-home package that is simple to use and affordable.
The good news is that a bunch of big companies have joined forces to make smart-home technology work, as was apparent from last month's 2006 International Builders' Show in Orlando. An alliance has been formed, involving more than 125 home and computer industry companies, including established firms such as Intermatic, Leviton, Logitech and Wayne-Dalton. The companies have teamed up to expand on an existing wireless technology known as "Z-Wave technology" a two-way wireless solution developed by a company called Zensys. The new venture is known as the Z-Wave Alliance.
We like the idea of a computerized home being wireless because it means lower installation cost and makes all of the conveniences available to more people.
Hard-wiring a smart-home system has a definite advantage over a wireless system. Hard-wired systems are faster than wireless, and with computers that's important. But, when it comes to most household applications, radio waves have it all. For example: When was it that your remote garage door opener didn't work fast enough for you?
The downside to hard-wiring also is the upside to wireless installations. That is, as technology advances, walls, ceilings and floors don't have to be ripped out to make the wiring changes. As electronic technologies change, so do the wires and cables that carry the signal.
With wireless all you will need to do is mount the newest, latest and greatest and keep right on trucking without tearing the house down. In the '90s, most folks interested in computers spent most of their time trying to keep up with the cost of a mushrooming technology. We think that the same thing will happen with smart homes once the "Model T" finally comes off the line. And from the looks of things, it won't be long before that happens.
As more companies get involved with smart-home technologies, smart-home products will become available in a standardized format. Eventually you will be able to outfit your smart home in the same way that you currently can build a computer from scratch.
So, as you delve into the realm of smart-home options and features, be sure to peruse, test and consider Z-Wave-based products.
Actually, Z-Wave technology is already in wide use. If you have a garage door opener or a radio-controlled toy car, chances are there is a Z-Wave in your life.
Details: Find out more about Z-Wave technology at z-wavealliance.com