Forget PCs: Microsoft Get Into 'Smart Homes'

Written by Oonagh Reidy     03/05/2012 | 07:01 | Category: REMOTE CONTROLS

Microsoft HomeOS looks to control all devices in the home from a central unit.



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HomeOS is an "operating system" for the home that provides holistic and "intuitive" control of devices in the home - everything from washing machines to PC and TV.

Revealed by Microsoft this week, the fledgling OS is coupled with a HomeStore through which users can add third party applications compatible with devices and add more devices, when needed.

The OS will give appliances "muscle memory" by interacting with them in a more natural way, says Microsoft, and give the ability to control remotely - anything from switching on a washing machine or turning on the heating at  desired time.

"Homes are ever-increasing hotbeds of new technology such as set-top boxes, game consoles, wireless routers, home automation devices, tablets, smart phones, and security cameras."

The software giant is looking to reduce this complexity by implementing homogeneity across devices than run different platforms and lack compatibility, in its new home automation venture.

Although the software giant is still researching the project, it has released a prototype, which supports a range of devices including switches, cameras, TVs and applications and runs on Windows OS with $350 of hardware.

Demoed on a Windows OS Phone using the HomeMaestro app, the Home OS was capable of commanding everything from opening a door to turning on the light and setting a thermostat, by creating 'rules'.

Experimental results show that it is easy for developers to write applications and for non-technical users to manage their home networks with HomeOS, according to Microsoft Research.

Several homes are already testing the OS, say Microsoft, and over 50 students have developed apps for it.