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The Problem With Home Automation, and How Eclipse SmartHome Could Help

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The Problem With Home Automation, and How Eclipse SmartHome Could Help

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Ever since I moved into my own place, one of the things I wanted to get going was to automate parts of my home. I'm sure that many software developers out there feel exactly the same. The problem with this however, with a huge amount of fragmentation in the market, is that it's so damn hard to get a complete solution working. Recently the Eclipse SmartHome framework was started, with the aim of helping out with this issue. 

The Problem

When I look around, there are lots of options to solve parts of the home automation puzzle. Take the Belkin WeMo  solution for example, where you can control any power point, light switch or bulb, and even have a motion controlled switch. All with a nice app to manage your home. So simple to integrate into your home , but in the end a bit limited. 

Then there's SmartThings, which looks really promising with a central hub and a smartphone app, and a wide variety of sensors, socket and switch controls, even controls for your doors. Presence sensors allow you to have things switch off when you leave the house: there's even leak/flood detectors. Really nice stuff, except it's limited to the US only. 

I could go on, and with the Internet of Things we'll see many more products rising. But how can it all be put together? With such fragmentation, how do I know that the system I choose is the one that will gain mass market adoption? This is exactly what the Eclipse Smart Home project aims to resolve. 

Eclipse Smart Home

The plan is to have "uniform access to devices and information and to facilitate different kinds of interactions with them" all through an OSGi stack, allowing for a registry of all the parts of your smart home network, and an event system to allow the devices to work together. For a programmer, this could make automating your home as simple as installing the control stack on a central server (even a Raspberry Pi), and writing the configuration model and rules through a DSL from the Eclipse IDE (SmartHome Designer). While this would clearly need some work for non-programmers, it's a great start in the direction of a truly adaptable smart home network. 

Kai Kreuzer, who started openHAB  in 2010,  is leading up the project, and has contributed the core of openHAB to create the Eclipse SmartHome framework. openHAB itself already has a number of devices and technologies  that can be integrated, giving you just a sample of what is possible, and openHAB 2.0 will be built on top of the SmartHome framework. 

After speaking to Kai about the project he explained that the reason for Eclipse SmartHome is to get several industry players to collaborate and build their own solutions on top of it, while sharing with the developer community. 

If there's any hope for a single point of control for your smart home, this could be it. 

For those who can't wait to get stuck in, the source code  and demo packages  are available on GitHub and the Smart Home website.

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