|HomeNet - A Wireless Network of Household Appliances|
This project was largely meant to be a prototype and proof of concepts for a much grander scheme based on the same concepts as were used in this project. An entire other paper could be written to describe all of the ideas we have for a full-scale version of this scheme, but I will describe just a few of them here.
Obviously the largest area in which the project could be expanded is with new types of receiver nodes. Given the power of the microcontrollers, nearly any electronic device could gain some sort of extra functionality by having a receiver node controlling it. Several of the more useful ones might be a George Forman grill, a TV/VCR control, and a microwave. A George Forman node would actually add the ability to both read and control the temperature of the grill, giving much greater control over its cooking abilities, as well as being able to set it to heat up at any given time. A TV/VCR could have many functions added to it. Never mind the convenience of controlling ones entire media center from the comfort of a computer, a receiver node could add many other functions such as the ability to set the VCR to record at given times from a computer or likewise to change a channel. While less functionality could be added to a microwave, the convenience of being able to control it from a computer is still enormous.
Many additional functions could be added to all node types. Some of these include automatically being able to detect and add nodes to a home network, and to set their node id upon initial setup. The ability to retrieve status reports and state updates from receiver nodes is a second major function. We would also add such things as the ability to send out mass signals, such as turn off all lights at once, or turn off all sound devices at once. Another function would be the automatic turning on and off of nodes during specific time windows in order to help save battery power. Finally, secure transmission would be a necessary addition to any complete version of the scheme.
In order to account for all this extra functionality, the PC program would also obviously be greatly expanded with a great deal more functionality. Some of the more useful functions would be saving state from program execution to execution, separate GUI’s for each node type, and an integrated console for sending commands and receiving data. We would also add many specialty functions such as implementing timers to control appliances and lights while on vacation, and allowing the user to create broad appliance settings that they could apply at the touch of a button, such as dim lights and romantic music at a low level.
Finally, on top of all this added functionality, we would add a web interface that one could use to control a home network from any computer with Internet access. It would also be designed to be extremely PDA friendly, so a network user could use their PDA within their house to control the entire network from anywhere in the house or even while away.