Paranoid that you might have left the tap running, or forgotten to close the garage door? Thought not, but for millions of forgetful Americans the domestic price of the peace of mind they crave will soon be available via a innovation called Home Heartbeat. Essentially it is a system that transmits information about what is happening in a person’s house to a Home Key (a small USB key style device with an LED display) within 90 foot of the system’s base station.
Once the homeowner moves outside of that range the Home Heartbeat system can then be configured to report any changes in the home to the user via email or text message.
It works using a series of sensors that are placed in key areas around the home. For example they might be placed on doors or windows to tell the user they have been shut properly, or alternatively on any electronic device (like an iron or a lamp) so the homeowner knows whether they have been switched off or left on.
These connect to the base station using a new wireless technology called ZigBee, or 802.15.4 to give it its proper name. This has been developed to enable embedded sensors and transmitters which don’t require much bandwidth to communicate with other devices. Eaton hopes to launch Home Heartbeat sometime during 2005. At this stage it is keeping quiet about how much it will cost.