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Home Automation

Since the introduction of home automation concepts in the 1960s, the idea of a central device to control lighting, heat, or perhaps a stereo, has been an ideal of modern homes. The dream of the “push-button home” has never gone away. Though the concept hasn't changed much, the number and type of devices has grown way beyond even the loftiest dreams of those bygone days. Technology has moved the concept from a single panel on a wall to incorporate remote devices connected from in and outside the home. Now that most people have an internet connected device on their person, the consumer market has all sorts of devices from water heaters to door locks and pet feeders. These devices, however, may not all be able to communicate with each other or with a central server.

Home automation is made simpler when a single device can control all the devices in the house. This may not always be the easiest to do since connected devices can be as simple as light switches or as complex as an adaptive home heating system. How do we connect many different devices with separate commands? We need a push-based, always online server capable of handling many clients, and able to route commands to multiple, or single devices at once. XMPP is the perfect fit!

Lets take a simple lighting setup in a home with three rooms and three lights. The XMPP server can assign a JID (Jabber ID) to each of the bulbs, with the bulbs using presence status to show if they are on or off. When the user connects to the server as an admin, he can request presences from all the bulbs and can see which ones are on or off. The bulbs themselves have simple settings; on or off, in this case translated to presence statuses on or off. The admin can set presence statuses on the other JIDs using a simple command, and the bulbs in turn can be turned on and off. Handy if you're in bed and forgot to leave the downstairs lights on!

A larger benefit of a central XMPP server connecting all these devices means that they can all be connected to mobile devices and computers outside the home. Since XMPP handles firewalls and NAT s natively, it's an easy setup to control those devices while on the go. Being away from home for a day or two can leave a pet in a tough situation without a sitter to come by and check. But the power of XMPP allows you to be with your pet anywhere in the world, allowing for not only control of a feeder device, but two way video devices to make sure they're okay while you are away from home. Customized lighting controls can make it look like somebody is home even while you're away. Thermostats can be better programmed to maintain temperatures in one part of the house to save money, but keep your furry friend warm on cold nights.

Although these are only some examples, as there are many home automated solutions available. The benefit that XMPP brings is that it can incorporate devices from different manufacturer technologies so you are not limited to a particular brand, or one communication type. A Tigase based automation server can handle thousands of connections easily while running on an inexpensive dedicated box. Using such a server can combine every switchable or smart device in a home; from every outlet, light bulb, camera, thermostat, sensor, door lock and more you could connect to it. The result: a true home of the future powered by Tigase.

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