Home automation solutions are gradually arriving to our everyday lives. The provided luxuries, due to the technology’s wide gains in consumer affordability, will be such basic requirements as the Internet or television. However current commercially available products operate in many different ways depending mostly on their manufacturers. There is no unified, comfortable way to control such devices. To access the available functions of the living environment, one has to navigate multi-level menus of touchscreens, remote controllers or even smartphones. To enthusiast these might seem fascinating and exciting at first but after a short while even they will find it cumbersome. Not to mention those users who cannot or simply refuse to learn how to operate these devices.
My aim was to design and create a unified control system that can provide fast, comfortable and intuitive access to every component of an intelligent home, be it a television, a coffee machine or a predefined mood-lighting configuration. The basic idea is a simplified remote controller that can be used to complete all tasks by pointing it at the desired device and pressing a single button. Of course its functionality is not limited here; through means of gesture recognition one can control individual devices by waving, twisting or using other natural hand motions.
I have designed a single-button control system and I have implemented parts of it. By creating two digital devices with different functionality I went through all the phases of implementation: selecting the technologies for realization, designing electronic schematics, PCB (printed circuit board) layout design, PCB etching and drilling, soldering, boxing, testing, programming, server-side software design and implementation.
I created a test environment where the single-button control mechanism can be used as it would be in a real world intelligent home. Our device of choice can be activated by simply pointing the remote at it and pressing the button. A test operation involving independent users revealed that the idea is viable in practice, learning the system takes seconds and it proved to be easy to use.