Home HeartBeat: A DIY "Home Awareness System"

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house.pngOne interesting system on display at PCBC 2007 is Eaton’s Home HeartBeat system. This is a self-installed, expandable system of sensors that allows a house and its utilities to be monitored remotely.

The Base Station controls the whole system, and works with a Home Key that the homeowner keeps with them. Sensors can be used to determine whether doors and windows are open or closed, whether pipes or taps are leaking, and if electrical appliances are on or off.

The water sensor can be instructed to turn the main supply off if a leak is detected, thus minimising the effects of water damage.

The Base Station communicates wirelessly with the Home Key, with sensors alerting the homeowner to any status changes throughout the home. The Home Key features an LCD display, which flashes alerts and pertinent information regarding the home. There is also a scroll wheel on the Home Key that allows easy navigation of the menus, whether adding a new sensor, receiving an alert, or changing the setup of the system or a sensor.

Whenever the Home Key goes out of range of the house (around 150ft) it takes a snapshot of the current status of the house, allowing the user to see if any appliances have been left on, or windows and doors left open.

When away from home, the system can alert the homeowner to changes via SMS text message, email, or a unique web page.

The system works on the ZigBee (IEE 802.15.4) standard, offering a long battery life, network security, and easily upgradeable components and sensors.

The basic system costs US$184.99, which gets you the Base Station, Home Key, and an “Open/Closed” sensor. Additional sensors cost from $32-$55, and the water shut-off controller costs $229.99. It could prove fairly expensive to deck out your whole house in these controllers.

No word on whether these will be available in the UK, but it’s an interesting application in the increasingly technological, “intelligent” home.

Andy Merrett