Home Automation - School of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Nov 5, 2013 (3 years and 5 months ago)


Home Automation


Home automation, also called domotics, has the goal of minimizing human labor and
discomfort. The key aspects of home automation are security, home entertainment, laborsaving
white goods (appliances), environmental control, a
nd network control [1]. The goal is to unify
various systems within a house into one whole, intelligent system that minimizes the amount of
time and effort the user spends on attending household tasks while maximizing security and
convenience. This paper

describes the home automation systems currently on the market, explains
how such systems work, and gives a brief market analysis.

Current Market: State of the Art Domotics

IVCi sells one modern aspect of home automation, lighting. IVCi’s home system wil
remember the patterns of when a user flips each light switch such that the system will eventually
turn on all the appropriate lights when the user enters the house. Another useful tool is to make the
lights follow the usual pattern when the user is on v
acation, thus discouraging thieves by making
them believe someone is still at home [2].

Cortexa is a good example of a system that integrates the lighting into a more complete
system. Cortexa’s
My Home

product lets customers control nearly all home syste
ms: audio, video,
lighting, climate, security, shades, irrigation, and audio
video controls [3]. At the heart of the
product is
Cortexa’s 7202 Home Controller, which connects to a monitor to allow customers to
virtually control the entire home and yard fr
om one location [4]. While a partial home automation
system such as the lighting will be in the range of a several hundred dollars, a more complete
system such as Cortexa’s will be in the range of several thousand dollars. The Cortexa main
controller alo
ne starts at roughly $1,900

Domotics is continuously being improved. Several areas of development involve a home’s
recognition of individuals and their location and improved interfaces, such that the user may
eventually be able to simply talk to the
house. The market is fueling the development of domotics.
In Europe, for example, the home automation market is expected to roughly double from revenues
of $ 232.6M in 2006 to $ 446.6M in 2013 [5].

How Domotics Works

Building Blocks

Home automation p
roducts are normally composed to sensors, actors, and control units. The
system architecture is centralized, distributed, or mixed. A centralized system has all appliances
feeding into one unit that makes all decisions, while a distributed system will di
stribute the
making among individual appliances.

Sensors could be RFID readers, electronic thermometers, microphones, photo sensors,
cameras, moisture sensors, and anything else that retrieves information from the environment.
Actors could be re
lays, speakers, monitors, electric door strikes, electric motors, and anything else
that acts on the environment. In the Cortexa system, the motors that raise and lower the shades are
the actors, while the circuit that reads a clock to determine whether i
t’s dark outside is the sensor (of

A controller analyses the sensors’ inputs, then outputs the proper directives to the actors. A
controller typically includes either custom circuitry or software to install on a home PC. The
Cortexa 7202 controll
er is a custom computer with preinstalled software [3].

The network that links
the controller with the sensors and actors could be physical or wireless. There already exist
standards, such as
ISO/IEC 14543 that
describe the architecture of home control s
ystems including
communication and interoperability aspects as well as specifying the general principles for network
device management [6]. Wireless networks are cheaper than physical ones because the cost of
running wires throughout a home is high. One
of the most popular standards for wireless domotics
networks is an international, open industry standard called X10, which uses a carrier frequency of
120 kHz with zero crossings of roughly 50 to 60 Hz [7].

Complete Designs

One approach to building a home

automation system is to program the floor plans and the
location of all lights, doors, windows, etc. into the central controller. Then the user can create a
custom schedule as to when different components turn on and off. For example, the user can set t
air conditioner to keep a specific room below 60º F between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. The controller
will then dutifully monitor the temperature sensor in that room and whenever the temperature
exceeds 60º F and the time is in the range specified, then the
air conditioner will cool the room [8].

Another approach is to save scenarios for a house. A scenario is the state of each appliance:
whether it is on or off and the settings of that appliance. With such states of the house, the user can
more conceptuall
y set the “mood” at home [9]. For example, for a romantic setting the home
automation scenario would dim the lights, play a romantic song, light the fire, and so on.

The two designs briefly described above are just two examples of the centralized
ture. Although the implementation from system to system varies, the idea remains the
same: assembling and programming sensors, actors, and controllers in a way to provide the most
reliable and easily used system to the user to control his or her entire ho
use and yard with minimal
hassle and while minimizing the cost.

Works Cited


K. Sangani, “It’s No Place Like Home,”
Engineering and Technology
, vol. 1, Issue 9, Dec.
2006, pp. 46


IVCi Home LLC, “Lighting Control: Q and A with Richard Holland
er, Managing Director,
IVCi Home,” [Online interview] (2007), Available at HTTP:


Cortexa Systems, “Cortexa Intelligent Home Management:

Products,” [Online document]
(2008), Available at HTTP:


Cortexa Systems, “
Cortexa 7202 Owner’s Guide
,” [Online document] (2008), Available at



Business Wir
, “European Home Automation Market is Set to Double,” [Online] (2007),

Available at HTTP:


Home electronic system (HES) architecture
, ISO/IEC 14543
4, 2007.


X10 Industry Standard
, X10, 1975.


Huei Su, Chyi
Shyong Lee, and Wei
Chen Wu, “The design and implementation of

cost and programmable home automation module,”
Consumer Electronics
, vol. 52,
Issue 4, Nov. 2006, pp. 1239


System for
home automation, by

J. K. Aper, G. J. Doorhy, B. Gaza, B. Reckamp, S. R.
Dinescu, M. C. Mazza, J. Pelland, M. Duitsman,
T. Bovee. (2005, Sept 19). U.S. Patent