07
May
2013-05-07_05-32-56

Let's be honest, most of us will never get to live in a crazy futuristic home like the Jetsons, but that doesn't mean we can't strive for a few of the simple luxuries. To that end, Doug Gregory is on track to make his living room smarter than the bridge of the USS Enterprise, all with a few electronic controllers and extensive use of Tasker. There's no way around it, you really need to see the video for this one.

Not counting home theater equipment and the Nexus 4, Doug was able to put everything together for less than $300, but he appears to have had the advantage of working for an authorized dealer. I tried to price out new gear on my own, but couldn't find any way to get everything for less than about $400. The shopping list is actually quite simple, consisting only of a Mi Casa Vera VeraLite home controller (~$180), an IR blaster, and 4 Z-Wave switches (~$50/each).

The challenging part of this project is in the software setup, which relies heavily on a few other apps. Tasker is at the core of the operation, along with a pair of plugins: AutoVoice, which is used to accomplish the voice command portion of the interface, and AutoRemote for passing messages back and forth with a Google TV unit (also running Tasker). A separate computer running XBMC is operated with Yatse, and directions for the Mi Casa Vera controller go through an app called AutHomationHD. The total price for unlocked/pro versions of these apps will come out to just over $10, which is very reasonable for the potential usefulness. Unfortunately, setting up is a bit more daunting and requires several Tasker profiles to catch various phrases and keywords.

This system obviously involves a lot of custom configuration and may be pretty complicated for somebody starting from scratch, but it is a great demonstration of what can be done with just a few simple tools. While Tasker and AutoVoice are important for driving the voice interface, almost everything else can be replaced to fit the situation. Just think, when Walt Disney started working on the House of the Future, I doubt he ever imagined people would be able to build something like this with a little spare time and ingenuity. If you would like to dig a bit deeper and start a project of your own, take a look at the discussion on Reddit.

via Reddit

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    Now replace the phone with Glass for much more convenient command prompts, and you will be living in the future. I can't wait for this to work seamlessly. I want it now.

    • hyperbolic

      Epic.

    • mobilemann

      I used to have a setup exactly like this, which controlled my main TV through plex for iOS devices (a siri proxy server) which parsed all the commands. Very very cool stuff.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

    The controls for the lights are awesome, no doubt about it. I want that in my life RIGHT NOW.

    The home theater setup with all the Tasker scripts seems a lot more hacked together, though, and really inefficient most of the time. The fact that it's all being done by voice control and a bottom-up screen swipe gesture makes all the video commands take waaaay too long.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      I love the idea, I like how well put together it is on the surface, but I can't shake the feeling that it is pretty frail. I imagine a bump in version to the OS (say 4.3, or whatever) could cause any one of the several apps to stop working predictably. I would also dread to imagine how many words and phrases (in hand-written regex) had to be added to Tasker to even support what was shown in the video.

    • Jim Nosrati

      https://getmyo.com/ would be better for video controls. have that + voice commands for all the automation. somethings are better with gestures.

    • kamiller42

      A nice alternative to swiping would be an always on mic which allowed you to address your phone on command. "Droid. Pause." "Droid. Play." "Droid. Dim lights 50%."

      • Кристијан Ристовски

        You mean "Ok glass, turn off lights", "Ok glass, play" etc :)

      • gladgura

        I would prefer command: "Computer, decrease elimination." "Computer, resume playback." "Computer, all stop."

      • arana

        or being able to change the hotword to JARVIS

  • David Becker

    I think it still costs to much for the added benefit Sure it has a cool factor of 200%, but it brings very little actual benefit to my life.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      Oh yeah, just for the sake of turning on and off some lights or saving a couple button presses on a remote, it's definitely not worth over $400. However, once all of this stuff is put together, adding new things to the system makes the price progressively more reasonable (I suppose). The problem with home automation is that almost everything costs too much.

      I think the more interesting part of this demo is how AutoVoice is put to so much use. I could see pushing this to accomplish a few other types of things that don't necessarily rely on home automation hardware.

      • David Becker

        Yes. I did buy Autovoice and have plans to start using it to build my own "Google Now" like voice shortcuts.

        Home in 10 = Send Wife txt msg that I will be home in 10 minutes.
        Working Late = Send txt to wife letting her know and set phone to vibrate for a couple more hours.

        I know I could use google now to send txt msg's but sometimes google does not interpret my voice correctly. So I spend like 30 seconds correcting the text or contact to send to.

    • Freak4Dell

      Cost is definitely the main issue, but home automation is still relatively new and unknown to most of the world's population. In time, things will get cheaper, and you'll see a lot more possibilities at a fraction of the price. I tell myself that's what I'm waiting for.

  • John O’Connor

    Under $400 is not a bad price for smartphone controlled automation (most professional installs will cost thousands of dollars and often 10's of thousands)

    The real question here is how much would total installation cost to setup an entire house with different rooms and input devices. If it is about $400/rm that will still be cost prohibitive for most people but a steal for serious DIYers

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      Extremely true. $400-ish is a fantastic price to start with on home automation if you compare to most of the other alternatives, especially out-of-the-box stuff. I've seen some some of my friends dump $100 per light bulb. Of course, a really thrifty DIYer could probably cut that to just over $200.

      However, $400 is still a LOT to spend on controlling a few lights and the TV. Until home automation gets legitimately cheaper and more reliable (still hard to do well with a lot of older tv sets and receivers) or we can do a lot more than trigger power switches and IR blasters, I think it will still be a niche thing. Though, there is obviously a market and every few months things seem to get a little better.

  • Brandon Watkins

    Android@Home!!!!! Coming Soon!

  • DMolina

    aint nobody got time for commands

  • Sootie

    Yay xbmc!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rmkattan Rami Kattan

    What happens when a hacker gets control of one of the devices? you will not be able to access your own house, you will need to hard-reset and reconstruct it :)

  • JT

    A tip for cheaper z-wave light switches: the Lowes automation system, Iris, uses the same GE z-wave switches and sells them for $10 less than Amazon... $35 for single switch. The phone automation is simple with several free apps in Play store to connect to Vera system. The controller is a one-time purchase so per-room control hardware is well under $100 depending on number of items to control.

  • JT

    Also, this setup is waaaay more complicated than need be. I don't like talking to inanimate objects so take the voice control out of the picture and it is just the hardware and a single app. Plenty of customizations available... I set mine up to detect a NFC sticker in my car and activate garage door control. Fun for tinkerers.

  • xnifex

    watching that reminds me that I really need to try plex or xmbc for my htpc as an alternative to just loading files in PowerDVD

    • Karl Ludwinski

      Oh man, XBMC has totally blown me away. I was looking for software for my HTPC a while back, and somehow stumbled across MyMovies for WMC first. It was OK, but slow and you have to pay for a lot of features. I tried XBMC after that, and it's amazing. It's super easy both to set up and use.

  • Elias

    Awesome!

  • GigiAUT

    I'm gonna have to steal this idea and take it to Africa. There's definitely some rich/crooked businessman somewhere that wants a fancy set up like this to show off with and doesn't care what it costs. $$$$

  • jem777

    Wow! Cool place ever. christmaslightdecorators.com

  • arana

    my phone doesnt have IR what type/brand of IR product to buy? i guess it must be a wifi to ir device, care to recommend one?

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