The home automation challenge

Microcontrollers and smartphones have driven major costs out of the home automation (HA) arena, but the lack of a single connecting protocol dooms today's HA products to niche status. No single company is going to produce a system to everyone's tastes, so a common, open protocol is essential to spur product development and customer interest.

But there is no open HA protocol, so you buy a product and you take your chances. Well-heeled early adopters may be fine with that, but to cross the chasm HA needs the simplicity of home Wi-fi.

That said, the iDevices and Oort product sets are moving in the right direction by offering an easier way for other vendors to develop smart products.

The LumiFi and foobot products are help make good light and clean air - major objectives of 19th century public health reformers - practical for 21st century homebodies. While they might benefit by a common HA protocol, they don't need it.

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