In the elusive dream of the automated home, visitors ring a doorbell, and it buzzes the homeowner’s mobile phone. Lawn sprinklers take rainy days off. At bedtime, lights turn off by themselves, and the temperature drops to save energy. In the morning, families awake to the smell of freshly brewed coffee.
Microsoft and Cisco Systems, as well as smaller companies such as Xanboo and Life|ware, have for years touted the benefits of this seemingly inevitable future and tried to position their products at the center of the connected home. As yet, they haven’t given consumers a reason to pay more just to avoid walking across a room to shut off a light. And, save coffee machines, they haven’t devised systems simple enough for the technically challenged.