HA Standards and Costs - Page 8 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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Old 03-08-2010, 08:51 PM
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So, another facet of this thread concerns structured wiring, and I'm in the camp that you pretty much can't run too much Cat6. Opponents of generous structured wiring may instead promote use of wireless (plus AC.) Any takers? A good debate here would finally catch me up on DiFi, W-HDMI, maybe even Bluetooth. Or, Powerline, anyone?

Basically, line level power is only getting there one way.
Data has three choices: LV lines, power lines, through the air

Boy, anybody notice how fast that ambien swoops in. Can't wait to read this post in the morning.

Good night, AVS, and thank you!
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:57 PM
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Please remember that consumers' habits are more easily monitored in the cloud, I think providing the greatest incentive to cloud anything. Microsoft and Google will be giving away touchscreens to wealthy clients, in exchange for their data.

Special report on the (over)abundance of data in this week's Economist, as always with a good 30K foot view.

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Old 03-08-2010, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Please remember that consumers' habits are more easily monitored in the cloud, I think providing the greatest incentive to cloud anything. Microsoft and Google will be giving away touchscreens to wealthy clients, in exchange for their data.

Just got done reading through the various posts, and I think that might very well be the first time someone has created any kind of legitimate business justification for why a company would even want to enter this space. Needs more detail certainly, but it's the first business-focused phrase i've seen.

Well done, Neurorad. I still think folks need to flesh business rationale first so it's at Eric Schmidt's pay grade before worrying about all these bits & bytes. Otherwise you run the risk of designing something that has no strong business justification, and this is an exercise in futility. Or worse - a company will come in with a strong business rationale, then decide how to support it, potentially in a polar opposite fashion, thereby invalidating the work you're doing.

There's a reason you need to have an M.B.A. to even interview at google. This is no longer a 'build it and they will come' world, nobody spends tens of millions on a whim anymore. The most succesful ideas start from demonstrating how an idea can satisfy a market need in a way that will return big $$.

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Old 03-10-2010, 05:56 PM
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One other thing that keeps popping into my head when people talk about cloud computing is security. The ability to maintain control over the "system" becomes far more difficult if there are more paths of entry to it.
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Old 03-10-2010, 06:56 PM
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I cannot believe that so many of you have allowed yourselves to be sucked into this. Have we become so permeated by marketing that we have reached the point where as long as someone throws a few big words at something and insists with adequate umbrage that xxx is possible, that everyone just starts to play along and devote several paragraphs to the serious discussion of xxx, even if xxx is about as feasible as a water powered vehicle? You might as well all be debating the merits of 39's monkey controlled racks and calling them "primate controlled controller kernels". Shame on all of you ! The emperor has no clothes!
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Old 03-10-2010, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by David Haddad View Post

I cannot believe this discussion is still going on and that so many of you have allowed yourselves to be sucked into it. Have we reached the point where as long as someone throws a few big words at something and goads people enough that they'll agree to discuss anything with a straight face no matter how outrageous? You might as well all be debating the merits of 39's monkey controlled racks and calling them "primate controlled controller kernel". Shame on all of you ! The emperor has no clothes!

I dont know what you mean. Are you saying that moving my perfectly working control processor to a google or MS controlled cloud where my data can be collected and i may or may not be charged a fee is just plain silly?
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Old 03-11-2010, 12:57 PM
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I tried to follow this thread but gave up on page 4.

It's good to see the same people with the same brain power posting as they were several years back. It's unfortunate that people still show up with the "I know everything because I'm an Executive, but please help me as I continue to shoot holes in any sound advice that comes my way, because I vote with my dollars!" attitude.

It's certainly nice to see CQC's ascension. Glad the economy didn't do you in Dean. I can hardly wait until this 30 year old industry matures (sarcasm).

PS- You'll recall my background as a Radio Frequency Engineer, I really got a kick out of the whole "icestorm bringing down my landline but my cell phone still works" analogy. You mean all of those cell sites connected to the switch via T1 lines (edit: ... are ice storm proof)?

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Old 03-11-2010, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by David Haddad View Post

I cannot believe that so many of you have allowed yourselves to be sucked into this. Have we become so permeated by marketing that we have reached the point where as long as someone throws a few big words at something and insists with adequate umbrage that xxx is possible, that everyone just starts to play along and devote several paragraphs to the serious discussion of xxx, even if xxx is about as feasible as a water powered vehicle? You might as well all be debating the merits of 39's monkey controlled racks and calling them "primate controlled controller kernels". Shame on all of you ! The emperor has no clothes!

You just don't get it.

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Old 03-11-2010, 03:46 PM
 
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I dont know what you mean. Are you saying that moving my perfectly working control processor to a google or MS controlled cloud where my data can be collected and i may or may not be charged a fee is just plain silly?

It might be "perfectly working" system when you are done with it but getting there is anything but "perfect." The state of the tools for home automation is years if not decades behind the PC and networked development. Creating a button, assigning it a "join number" and then going into some design tools that looks like logic diagrams and wiring that number in with Crestron tools couldn't be more primitive than the way we write software elsewhere. Even Dean's UI which is a major step ahead of Crestron is still way too primitive.

So while I am not sold on moving anything to the cloud, I am in favor of stirring discussion and bringing in people with computer expertise to see if there is a better way to do things. Companies like Microsoft have incredible expertise in tools for user interface design and programming (take a look at Expression). So I welcome ways of incorporating their technology into this area.

I enjoy programming for PC but yet to get to the same place with Crestron. Of course if that is what you get paid to do, you learn and put up with its limitations especially if the customer is paying by the hour to write the code. But let's not confuse that with elegance and the need to do more.
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Old 03-11-2010, 03:56 PM
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I once thought that VTPro-e was archaic and in need of some major updates and then i opened the editors of many other companies and realized just how good i had it with VTPro-e.

While i agree that things could be improved upon across the board in terms of programming and user interface design for all control system manufacturers i don't really understand how the cloud even needs to enter into the discussion.

IMO moving control to the cloud creates an unnecessary point of failure that has zero positive effect on what the control system processor is used for.

We normally have a local PC that we access to remotely to load programming to avoid having the connection drop in the middle of an upload because it happens. And if you are not onsite to format the compact flash card when this happens then you are in big trouble. Now lets imagine that compact flash card is on a server that you dont have the keys to at 3AM.

If one wants to improve upon the way we remotely interact with that local processor then i am all for it but my opinion stands that the control processor must remain local now and forever. Clouds, moons, planets and galaxies wont change that .

Its like taking your phones keyboard and making it send information to the cloud so that the cloud can send information back to your phone to enter in the keystrokes. It just doesn't make sense. THe better way would be to have the keyboard enter in the strokes locally and have the ability to also send keystrokes from the cloud. Dropping the phone analogy.. this is how Crestron works today. press a button on touchpanel.. signal to processor.. command executed. Or remotely.. press a button on mobile device or xpanel.. processor receives command and executes it.
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:21 PM
 
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I once thought that VTPro-e was archaic and in need of some major updates and then i opened the editors of many other companies and realized just how good i had it with VTPro-e.

"In the land of blind, the one eyed man is king!"

Again the standard is not the automation industry but the world of PC and web programming.

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While i agree that things could be improved upon across the board in terms of programming and user interface design for all control system manufacturers i don't really understand how the cloud even needs to enter into the discussion.

I agree that a strong enough case has not been made so far. Part of that is that the proponents are disadvantaged in not understanding the control domain well enough to propose something that passes the test with you all.

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IMO moving control to the cloud creates an unnecessary point of failure that has zero positive effect on what the control system processor is used for.

It doesn't have to be that way. The solution could be hybrid with stand-alone operation which gets better with cloud. Good example is traffic overlay in mapping systems. Without communication you have local mapping. Add networking and you get traffic overlay.

Today, every solution is custom. For example, if I want to use real-time temperatures to optimize my HVAC operation, I have no standardized way of doing that. If I want weather data, in theory I have to go and license it from someone. Companies like Google/MS can solve problems like this easily.

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We normally have a local PC that we access to remotely to load programming to avoid having the connection drop in the middle of an upload because it happens. And if you are not onsite to format the compact flash card when this happens then you are in big trouble. Now lets imagine that compact flash card is on a server that you dont have the keys to at 3AM.

Well, that is a sign of poor design. Any mission critical system better have dual flash images, allowing the system to stay fully operational if something goes wrong with the upload of the new image.

In the new world everyone is talking about, there would be no flash to update. There would be enough code in there for it to go and fetch its programming from the cloud. You would design your UI and programming against the cloud and the cloud takes care of pushing the design into the box reliably.

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If one wants to improve upon the way we remotely interact with that local processor then i am all for it but my opinion stands that the control processor must remain local now and forever. Clouds, moons, planets and galaxies wont change that .

There will always be a box that handles inputs and outputs and real-time local control.

Again, I don't think strong enough case has been made yet for any of this but there is enough to keep talking.
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Old 03-11-2010, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by AI Limited View Post

PS- You'll recall my background as a Radio Frequency Engineer, I really got a kick out of the whole "icestorm bringing down my landline but my cell phone still works" analogy. You mean all of those cell sites connected to the switch via T1 lines (edit: ... are ice storm proof)?

When the complaint also contains "cost" the cell vs landline analogy also falls way short.

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Old 03-11-2010, 07:11 PM
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[i]
It doesn't have to be that way. The solution could be hybrid with stand-alone operation which gets better with cloud. Good example is traffic overlay in mapping systems. Without communication you have local mapping. Add networking and you get traffic overlay.

If improvements are to be made they should be made to the local control system and the way in which remote devices interact with the local control system.

In your example you are describing what i am preaching . You have the entire mapping system local. Traffic overlay is a service that can be pulled from the cloud.

If the internet connection is lost your mapping program is still fully functional and you have only lost a single feature of the mapping program.

If we were to do away with the local mapping program on the local processor and move all of it to the cloud, its all lost when the internet connection goes down.

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Today, every solution is custom. For example, if I want to use real-time temperatures to optimize my HVAC operation, I have no standardized way of doing that. If I want weather data, in theory I have to go and license it from someone. Companies like Google/MS can solve problems like this easily.

I think this is a good use of the cloud and it falls under a service that your local processor and hardware are pulling from the cloud. If the internet connection is lost your HVAC system still functions and it can still be controlled locally with your touchpanels. Put the processor in the cloud and when the internet connection drops you will find yourself at the thermostats setting things manually.

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Well, that is a sign of poor design. Any mission critical system better have dual flash images, allowing the system to stay fully operational if something goes wrong with the upload of the new image.

And when both flash images lock up?

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In the new world everyone is talking about, there would be no flash to update. There would be enough code in there for it to go and fetch its programming from the cloud. You would design your UI and programming against the cloud and the cloud takes care of pushing the design into the box reliably.

That code is sitting on a piece of hardware somewhere. I would prefer it be on a piece of hardware i have access to. I would prefer it be available to the local hardware when the cloud is not reachable.

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There will always be a box that handles inputs and outputs and real-time local control.

I agree. And rather than add in another box located somewhere else thats accessed over the internet i think this input output realtime local box should also be the "brain". Or a system like CQC that uses a local PC and a hardware solution for handling I/O. In both cases control is handled locally.

Google.com is a great for accessing data from allover the place with a browser. But when the internet connection goes down its worth as much as a wet pack of matches.
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Old 03-11-2010, 07:44 PM
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This attached image shows 4 scenarios. 2 with the processor in the cloud and 2 with the processor local. Each set of scenarios has a "internet connection" good and a "internet connection" bad example. You will see the only point in which you would lose control of your home completely is #2. when the processor is in the cloud and the internet connection is lost.

http://www.wiremunky.com/image/dangers_from_above.jpg
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Old 03-11-2010, 08:23 PM
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Thats one too many options for me to lose control of my home. Nothing less that 100% is good enough.
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Old 03-12-2010, 09:45 PM
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Absolutely, lack of network connectivity would have zero impact on controllability. Connectivity required if you want to remotely access network status or change programming.

I think we've all covered the fact that there must, at the minimum, be a WAN-independent level of control residing on premises. This side of the argument has become moot.

In regards to the second half of this quote:
a) we already do (at least, can do) comprehensive network/device management via the WAN. How would your hosted/cloud solution improve upon this?
b) we already do (at least, can do) programming changes/real-time monitoring via the WAN. Your assumption that we would regularly/consistently want to suggests you have never personally attempted this...sure, a simple change to a lighting level, channel favorite, icon graphic etc is doable, but I could never foresee making significant modifications/fixes off-site (much less the initial installation/commissioning of a system). Would you then ask the customer to confirm the success/functionality of your work? Nightmare.

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I would think that local programming would be a 100% necessity as well. Being able to program remote and well as locally would be fine... but it is difficult to to think about a core service not programmable on premises.

It would be like having to go to the web to start your washing machine or to program your Tivo. Sure, there are times where that would be handy but for 99.9% of the interactions I have with these devices it needs to be accomplished on site. Not just use of the items, but configuration of the items also.

See above. I can not imagine any significant advantages to having the programming/control environment being a 'cloud-based' solution as described. Would I like to see universal standards for control/communication? Yes. Do I want to configure them for top-level clients via a web/wizard based interface? No.

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Properly designed, there should be no difference between the UI served up from the network and the one used on site.

So...whats the point? Besides adding latency?


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With appropriate feedback from the endpoint devices you shouldn't need to be on-site, unless a device has failed and it needs to be physically replaced - don't you think?

Again, this is a statement lacking in perspective. When a HDMI balun stops working/locks up because motorola has been selling the same crappy cable box for 8 years running, or a receiver goes into protect mode because someones kid spun the volume-knob for fun, or a phone gets left off the hook in a remote part of the house, or ... ... ... - we roll a truck. Service calls are a part of life in this industry, but with a well-programmed/installed job, it is rarely the controller that is the problem. If it is the control system causing trouble, its probably a device that has dropped off a wifi network, or an RF interference issue because your neighbor bought a new microwave, or one of a hundred other issues you CAN NOT troubleshoot remotely.

----
There was a comment regarding the efficiency of performing certain services (indexing/searching of music/movies/etc) in the cloud. This may become change in the future but as of this time, and for the foreseeable future, most media still exists in one of two forms:
On site - ipods, computers, AM/FM/XM radios, CD's, DVD/BluRays,
Streaming - Pandora, last.fm, iradio, Hulu, Netflix, Zune/PS3 services, etc
Management of this data, on or off-site, is managed by solutions separate from the control processor anyway, and only interacts with the processor in the form of commands and small amounts of data (serial strings of artist, album, next artist, etc etc) plus potentially a small image or url for an image of the cover art. Whats the advantage of moving this further into the cloud than it already is?
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Old 03-13-2010, 06:33 PM
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Whats the advantage of moving this further into the cloud than it already is?

There are two different aspects to this discussion that are being confused:

1. Are there any scenarios where moving a control processor from the home to the cloud provides any advantage whatsoever?

2. Do any such advantages to this architecture outweigh the costs such that a cloud based offering is viable?

You can't really discuss the second point until you have clarity on the first, and I think many are glossing over the first point.

Concerning the first point, I see at least two things that a cloud based processor provides over an on premises controller:

a. A fatter and more reliable pipe to certain other services and data that the control processor may interact with. (Yes, that implies a weaker pipe from the home to the controller - but that is separate and apart from whether or not the assertion is true on its own!)

b. The ability to access the physical controller hardware for a great many users from a single location.

Now, again, those advantages may or may not offset the costs and translate to a better offering under any imaginable scenario. But, in response to the question, "what are the possible advantages to a cloud based processor", this is my answer.
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Old 03-13-2010, 07:10 PM
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The question that I think is most important (for me anyway):

Is there a scernaio that precludes moving management to the cloud?

The answer is "yes". This eliminates any such system as a usable solution for me.

Now the question is: How many people are in the same situation as me?
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Old 03-13-2010, 07:18 PM
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Do you mean are there any scenarios where keeping the controller at home makes more sense? If so, I don't think anyone disagrees that there are of course many such scenarios, including how most use HA today.

I think there is tendency in this thread to think of HA in a singular sense, as though all users converge on the same usage. In actuality, there are many different user types with many different needs - both current and future. If you asked someone who bought a Crestron system whether they think Mi Case Verde's solution would make sense for them, they'd say certainly not. But, that doesn't mean the Mi Case Verde solution isn't relevant in the market place.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by David Haddad View Post

1. Should we move TV's to the cloud?

Um, do you run your e-mail server in your home?

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2. Could you provide me with the make and model of a cloud controller so I can look at one?

http://www.dell.com/us/en/business/s...10&s=bsd&cs=04

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3. I believe it was said that all info would "still be cached locally so that the system would operate if connection to the cloud went down". Where would that info be cached? Might it be, oh I don't know, a controller/s?

I actually don't know what "still be cached locally" means in this context. Personally, I never argued against a local controller - just to emphasize certain advantages of a controller in the cloud.

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4. I believe gmail, hotmail, yahoo etc. would be considered "email in he cloud". What do I use to access those services? Might it be, oh I don't know, a controller?

Actually, no. With e-mail, the "controller" is the component that handles message routing, which would be the SMTP/POP3/IMAP server and is in fact in the cloud. What you check your Web-based mail with (i.e. a Web browser) is the user interface component.
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:05 PM
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BTW, we haven't really agreed on the definiton of an HA controller. Arguably, there can be several controllers components in a project, and/or several different types of controllers: primary controllers (through which all events are handled), secondary controllers (which broker more localized or functionally specific messages) and control gateways (which convert a message from one protocol/transport to another. And, I'm sure, other components that could reasonably be called controllers.
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:40 PM
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Yes I do . Since an email server can be run in the home.

So, when your Internet connection goes down - as we've all agreed happens from time to time - then you have to wait 4 hours before a transmiting SMTP server tries to resend a message? And, if your home Internet connection is down, then you can't connect to your mail server from the office/road to check for new messages? Why is this a good thing?

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No, what I check my email with is a piece of electronic hardware that runs an operating system (whether Windows, Linux, embedded etc.) of some type. And no matter how many fancy terms we use, you can't get rid of that operating system and hardware, which in the context of this discussion is a "controller".

Well, there you have it. We don't agree on what a controller is. According to this definition, many media players would be controllers. So, too, would many touch panels, Blu-ray players, telephone systems, etc. That definition of controller might make sense in some contexts, but I don't believe it to be consistent with what most feel a controller is in HA.
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Old 03-13-2010, 10:26 PM
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For the record...

Controller, processor control system etc.. whatever terms i have used properly or improperly...

Example 1.
A Crestron Pro2 is a unit that has an operating system, runs a program (clients project) and has I/O for control of IR/RS-232/Relays/Ethernet etc.

Example 2.
A PC based solution where the black box has the control connections and a PC compatible application that runs a program communicates with it.

These are the things i am saying do not belong off site. There is no advantage to moving these outside of the home or business. Anything thought up as a reason to make it worthwhile can also be implemented locally so we still end up with there being no reason to move it to the cloud and 1 very important reason why you would not want to move it to the cloud.

An added failure point.


Adding.. Email has nothing to do with home automation. You need access to the internet to send and receive it because it is intended to leave and arrive into your inbox and others across the globe via the internet. A PRO2 in a residence is intended to control subsystems and sources within the home it is installed in. You dont want or need the rest of the world to have access to your Pro2. If the internet goes down your home automation system would not stop working like your email account would. Unless you moved your processor to the cloud .

A spoon is ancient technology but try as you may you will not be able to improve upon it. It, like the local control system processor, is the right tool for the job.
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Old 03-13-2010, 11:39 PM
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For the record...

Controller, processor control system etc.. whatever terms i have used properly or improperly...

Your examples seem consistent with what I had been thinking in terms of what a controller is. And, I imagine that if I were to look at any given example of where you've deployed a Pro2, I would agree that moving that unit to the cloud would be major step backwards.

At the same time, I'll point out that you still are holding on to a particular set of assumptions about home automation based on where CI has focused.

Consider the following scenario:

Home owner goes to Home Depot and purchases a couple of lamp modules and motion sensors. He then comes home and plugs all these units into wall outlets. Then, he goes to www.SimpleHomeAutomation.com and registers.

By this time, the lamp modules and motion sensors - which are all IP based with built-in WiFi - have already registered themselves with the SimpleHomeAutomation.com server. So, based on the public IP through which they came in, they are already associated with the home owner's account. (Forget about WEP/WPA for now to allow the point.)

The home owner has done nothing more than plug some units into the wall and register with a Web site. And, they can now access a controller to schedules these lights on timers, turn them on and off from any Web browser, configure them to turn on and off based on presence detection, etc.

All of this was possible without having to purchase and install any controller hardware. There was no need for IR, RS-232, etc. Yet, there is now an arguably useful automation capability deployed in the home. Thanks to a controller operated in the cloud.

Does this system compare to a Crestron system? Of course not!

Does this system provide utility? I would certainly say so. Does it have the ability to quickly reach mass market scale? Well, it certainly seems to have some merits.

And, now that the customer relationship has been established, future upgrades can build on this and put a controller on the premises. Or, as an interum step, just a gateway that bridges IP to ZigBee or what have you to allow other non-IP devices to come online.

Bottom line - while putting a controller in the cloud may be a step backwards for many scenarios, it may open up opportunities in many others.
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:19 AM
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A spoon is ancient technology but try as you may you will not be able to improve upon it. It, like the local control system processor, is the right tool for the job.

There is no spoon...

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Old 03-14-2010, 12:27 AM
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What does it cost for this homeowner to have access to this cloud based control? If the answer is a monthly fee then at some point Crestron should have been the chosen product. If the answer is that there is no charge then IMO this is a poor business model that will fail leaving the client with a system that does not operate at all.

Package PC software with this product and now it can be controlled locally. Scheduling and control can happen with or without an internet connection. The same configuration utility that was easy and in the cloud can be local.
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by 39CentStamp View Post

What does it cost for this homeowner to have access to this cloud based control? If the answer is a monthly fee then at some point Crestron should have been the chosen product. If the answer is that there is no charge then IMO this is a poor business model that will fail leaving the client with a system that does not operate at all.

I don't know about that. Google gives away Android OS to mobile phone companies.

The business plan therefore may be another method to make money. Maybe Google will run ads as you try to manage your home through their UI or maybe they subsidize it with no model.
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by crosen View Post

Consider the following scenario:

Home owner goes to Home Depot and purchases a couple of lamp modules and motion sensors. He then comes home and plugs all these units into wall outlets. Then, he goes to www.SimpleHomeAutomation.com and registers.

By this time, the lamp modules and motion sensors - which are all IP based with built-in WiFi - have already registered themselves with the SimpleHomeAutomation.com server. So, based on the public IP through which they came in, they are already associated with the home owner's account. (Forget about WEP/WPA for now to allow the point.)

The home owner has done nothing more than plug some units into the wall and register with a Web site. And, they can now access a controller to schedules these lights on timers, turn them on and off from any Web browser, configure them to turn on and off based on presence detection, etc.

All of this was possible without having to purchase and install any controller hardware. There was no need for IR, RS-232, etc. Yet, there is now an arguably useful automation capability deployed in the home. Thanks to a controller operated in the cloud.

You are getting better with your scenarios . That said, I would then run a local system to control it all as the latency through the web would be too high for in-home access (you hit a light switch, it better turn on much less than a second and work every time).
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by 39CentStamp View Post

What does it cost for this homeowner to have access to this cloud based control? If the answer is a monthly fee then at some point Crestron should have been the chosen product. If the answer is that there is no charge then IMO this is a poor business model that will fail leaving the client with a system that does not operate at all.

The cost to support a single home in this model - when operated in scale - is pennies per month. There is no way the price gets anywhere near where there is any comparison with a Crestron system. Say $3/month, for argument's sake. What's the least expensive Crestron system you put in? How many decades would it take before the cash out was on par? Then, consider the $36/year is less than the opportunity cost of investing even $1,000 in equipment up front at 4 points interest.

From a business viability perspective, keep in mind also that the value of a paying subscriber to a company is more than the current revenue stream from that user, since a paying subscriber is a captured customer with future revenue potential.


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Package PC software with this product and now it can be controlled locally. Scheduling and control can happen with or without an internet connection. The same configuration utility that was easy and in the cloud can be local.

Once you require software to be run a PC, you just SIGNIFICANTLY increased the bar for technical competency as well as support costs and also lost a HUGE portion of the potential market. Plus, I bet the reliability of an Internet connection coupled with a well operated Web service exceeds that of a PC based application running on a typical home owner's computer.
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Old 03-14-2010, 01:33 AM
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You are getting better with your scenarios . That said, I would then run a local system to control it all as the latency through the web would be too high for in-home access (you hit a light switch, it better turn on much less than a second and work every time).

Right, as long as the system is scheduling lights, sending e-mail notifications when the kids got home, receiving reports of how many hours are left on your light bulbs, etc., we're ok. But, once you put up a keypad to control those lights, and for sure by the time you're surfing channels on your TV, you want something on the premises.
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