My Home Automation History
I started to play with home automation in the mid 70s at age 14. My first attempt was to replace my bedroom light switch by a capacitor ‘touch switch’. My goal was to install a proximity detector – it worked but I suffered from electrical shocks when trying to switch the light on or off.
A later edition of my switch came with a 3lbs power supply which wouldn’t fit in the switch receptacle. My battery operated switch worked but 1974 batteries wouldn’t last more than a day! I didn’t stop there and quickly modified my room wiring to include a multilevel clap switch based on relays.
In 1980, I came up with a home automation design based on relays and push buttons. My mock up worked perfectly but the implementation was made impossible because it entailed opening walls for rewiring and an exhorbitive overall cost of the equipment. Dad’s veto was greater than my will.
Mid 80s, I was working for an oil company first in Angola then in Congo. I came up with a more advanced home automation design with monitoring and a Telemecanique TSX21 and TSX47 programmable automates. I tested my design using the company’s lab and showed that a house could be automated as well as an offshore platform.
My design included lights, cooling, security and monitoring. I couldn’t implement the design as the company refused to ‘modify’ the company owned house.
In the early 90s, based in Saudi Arabia, I created a new home automation based on an IBM PC Pentium I with I/O cards to monitor and automate lights, heating/cooling and security – this design was much faster that the previous one based on the TSX47 and the coding was also more user friendly. Again the oil company refused to let me modify the house!
Home automation was possible, the main problem being the additional wiring to command switches, thermostats etc…
In the late 90s, I moved to US and started to play with available products focusing on power line transmitted commands which don’t need additional wiring. The first technology I used was X10 one way then two ways.
Today I work on several projects to implement home automation in Brazil, Texas and Australia. My house is fully automated from lights, multimedia distribution, networking, VoIP, heating/cooling, sprinklers to security.