your main unit via a wireless or wired connection. More complex installations
require you to run the audio and video cables to your stereo system, which is
typically beyond the scope of the average homeowner.
Getting online with your own car PC
The previous products are great for syncing your audio at home with your
carâ€™s audio system via wireless 802.11 networks. What about video? For auto
video servers, the market is still beginning to develop, but itâ€™s more focused
on putting a full PC in your car and storing and playing videos through that.
Some very cool, wireless-capable auto PCs are currently on the market.
With a PC in your car (I donâ€™t recall seeing any of those plastic traffic signs in
any car windows saying â€śPC on Boardâ€ť â€” do you?), you can mimic your home
wireless network in your car, almost in its entirety. You can sync up with your
PC for audio and video to play over your carâ€™s radio and video display system.
You can play computer games over those same systems. You can access your
address books and calendars, just like at your desk. You can even use wireless
G-NET Canada (www.gnetcanada.com) has a range of auto-enabling PCs
that add all sorts of functionality to your car. Aurora Auto PC, for instance, is a
$1,500 add-on that gives you just about all youâ€™d want from your car. It includes
an MP3 audio player, a DVD player, GPS navigation support, vehicle diagnos-
tics, and a digital dash software interface, as well as a full Windows XP-based
PC that can run any application you want. The Aurora Auto PC sports a PC
Card slot so that you can add the wireless card of your choice â€” setup is the
same procedure for setting up any Windows XP 802.11 client. The trimmed-
down Memphis Auto PC model, which has all the same wireless access capabil-
ities but no onboard DVD device, enables you to store and play audio and
video files downloaded from your host home PC.
Chapter 14: Other Cool Things You Can Network
You can get additional accessories to boost your enjoyment of your car PC. A
wireless keyboard makes it simple to interface with the PC for text-oriented
tasks (as is common with kidâ€™s games) and for surfing the Internet. You can
wirelessly connect to the Internet while driving by using a cellular PC Card
like the Sierra Wireless AirCard 750.
So, you can now pull up to a hot spot and log on. (Check out Chapter 16 for
more about hot spots.) Or, auto-sync when you enter your garage. Itâ€™s just a
matter of time until you can play games car-to-car while driving down the
road with another wirelessly enabled car.
Installing your car PC is both easy and hard. Itâ€™s easy in the sense that you
screw the unit to your car and run power to the unit. Itâ€™s hard in the sense
that other than the wireless connections, any connections to your car stereo
or video system might entail running wires, just like with the audio wireless
car servers that we describe previously. But after you have all this in place,
using a different application is just a matter of installing new software on
your car PC. Itâ€™s just like your home PC â€” after you install your printer, your
monitors, and all the other parts of your system, the hard work is done. Just
install new software to do new things.
We think that every car should have one of these wireless PCs! At least any
car that has passengers in it â€” you donâ€™t want to be surfing the Web while
Picking wireless gear for your car
The integration of external wireless connectivity options to cars is definitely
in its infancy. However, some things to look for when shopping for auto-based
audio/video gear include the following:
PC Card (PCMCIA) slots: You get the ultimate in flexibility with PC Card
slots because you can put any card that you want into the system. You
need these for connecting to the home when parked in the yard and
accessing the Internet when traveling. Ideally, youâ€™d have two PC Card
slots because itâ€™s probably going to be a while before a lot of dual-mode
Wi-Fi/cellular cards are on the market.
FM modulator: Some systems have an optional FM modulator that
enables you to merely tune into an unused FM band in your area and
broadcast your music from the server to your stereo system. Because
some audio and video systems require you to have specific receivers
(that is, your actual audio component where you will listen to the music)
for your car to make full use of the new functionality, it can get expen-
sive to install a system. FM modulators make it easy to put in a system
268 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network
without changing out your stereo; you do lose some of the onscreen
reporting that comes with a hard-wired installation, but you still get
access to the music (which is the important part).
Upgradeable storage hard-disk space: Look for systems that allow you
to add storage space when you need to. Storage is getting cheaper and
coming in smaller form factors all the time. Youâ€™ll probably want to keep
adding storage space as your audio and video collection increases.
Lots of interfaces: After your system is installed, youâ€™re going to want
to plug a lot of things into it. Make sure that you have a good supply of
Universal Serial Bus (USB), FireWire, Ethernet, PC Card, serial, and RCA
ports. You might have already installed a VHS tape deck or DVD player
in your car; if you did, you might be able to easily install an audio/video
server right beside it and use available In jacks on the video player to
feed your existing screen and audio system.
All in all, expect a wireless LAN in your car soon â€” it just makes sense.
Look Ma, Iâ€™m on TV â€” Video Monitoring
over Wireless LANs
The heightened awareness for security has given rise to a more consumer-
friendly grade of video monitoring gear for your wireless network, too â€” this
is stuff that used to be the exclusive domain of security installers. You can get
network-aware 802.11b-supporting video cameras that contain their own inte-
grated Web servers, which eliminate the need to connect a camera directly to
your computer. After installation, you can use its assigned Internet Protocol
(IP) address on your network to gain access to the camera, view live streaming
video, and make necessary changes to camera settings.
Panasonic sells its KX-HCM250 wireless network camera (www.panasonic.com;
$750), complete with SSID filtering and 64/128-bit WEP encryption to help pro-
tect your wireless network from illegal intrusion. (See Figure 14-3 to see the
product. We talk more about SSIDs and WEP in Chapters 6 and 10 if you need to
know more.) The KX-HCM250 allows up to 30 simultaneous viewers to see up
to 15 frames per second (fps) of live-motion video with resolution of up to 640
x 480. Through a Web-based interface, you can perform remote pan and tilt
functions and click to eight preset angles.
D-Link is another vendor that has embraced the video aspects of wireless
based video surveillance. Its D-LinkAir DCS-1000W (www.d-link.com; $329) â€”
shown along with the Panasonic KX-HCM250 in Figure 14-3 â€” gives you VGA-
quality streaming video with built-in automatic gain and white balance con-
trols. It comes with IPView, which is a Microsoft Windows-compatible
Chapter 14: Other Cool Things You Can Network
monitoring application. IPView allows you to control all your DCS-1000W cam-
eras on your LAN from one location. IPView also lets you view as many as 16
cameras on one screen, supports manual and scheduled recording to an AVI
movie file on your hard drive, and supports motion detection that triggers
Go to www.dlink.com/LiveDemo/ for a live demo of the D-LinkAir DCS-
Installing a wireless network camera is incredibly simple. These are network
devices and usually sport both an RJ-45 10Base-T wired network interface
along with an 802.11b air interface. Installing the camera usually involves first
connecting the camera to your network via the wired connection and then
using the provided software to access your cameraâ€™s settings. Depending on
how complicated the camera is (whether it supports the ability to pan, to
e-mail pictures on a regular basis, to allow external access, and so on), you
might be asked to set any number of other settings.
Photo courtesy of Panasonic
270 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network
You might be asked to set a fixed (static) IP address for the camera on your
home wireless network. In Chapter 6, we talk about how (in most cases) your
wireless clients obtain an IP address (when on your network) through the
Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DCHP). DHCP just gives you an address
based on the next one that happens to be available on your network; it can
change from time to time. However, to access the camera from outside your
home, say from your office, you want that IP address to be the same all the
time so that you donâ€™t have to guess what address it obtained from your DHCP
host. When setting up your camera, it will probably ask you to give it a fixed
address on your network. To do this, simply choose a number outside the range
thatâ€™s governed by your hostâ€™s DHCP client range. If you let your router assign
DHCP from within the range of numbers from 192.168.254.0 to 192.168.254.50,
you can pick any number above 50 and below 254, such as 192.168.254.100. You
need to make sure that you donâ€™t pick a number being assigned by the routerâ€™s
DHCP, or you might find that your number gets taken by another assignment.
The wireless communications doesnâ€™t have to be 802.11b, although we
would argue that it makes sense to use standards-based gear when you can.
Danny likes his X10 FloodCam (www.x10.com; $130) that videotapes all activ-
ity around the house, night or day, and sends the images to a VCR or PC. That
system uses 2.4 GHz to send the signals, but itâ€™s not standardized wireless
LAN traffic. Over time, we believe that many of these systems will move to
802.11 or Bluetooth when those chip and licensing costs continue to come
Controlling Your Home over
Your Wireless LAN
Another area of wireless activity is home control. If you got excited about
going from the six remote controls on your TV set to one universal remote
control, you ainâ€™t seen nothinâ€™ yet. (And if you still have those six remote con-
trols up there, weâ€™ve got some options for you, too.)
The problem with controlling anything remotely is having an agreed-upon pro-
tocol between the transmitting functionality and the receiving functionality. In
the infrared (IR) space, strong agreement and standardization exists for remote
controls among all the different manufacturers, so the concept of a universal
remote control is possible for IR. (IR remotes are the standard for the majority
of home audio and video equipment.) But in the radio frequency (RF) space,
there has not been the same rallying around a particular format, thus making it
difficult to consolidate control devices except for within the same manufac-
turerâ€™s line. And then you have the issues of controlling non-entertainment
devices, such as heating and air conditioning, security systems, and so on.
Those have different requirements just from a user interface perspective.
Chapter 14: Other Cool Things You Can Network
Total Harmony with your wireless entertainment
A great idea demonstrating the power of con- the receiver, select the TV mode, turn on the
solidated remote controls is found in the satellite receiver, and anything else that has to
Harmony Remote controls. With their Smart be activated to watch the television. Whatâ€™s
State Technology capabilities, they can inter- more, these remotes have onscreen program
face with your A/V gear through macros. Select guides to help you select what you want before
Watch TV, and the remote sequentially goes you even turn on the TV. Thatâ€™s cool. You should
through all the motions to turn on the TV, turn on check it out.
The advent of 802.11b and Bluetooth â€” as well as touchscreen LCDs and pro-
grammable handheld devices â€” offers the opportunity to change this because,
at the least, manufacturers can agree upon the physical Transport layer of the
signal and a common operating system and platform. Now weâ€™re starting to see
the first moves toward collapsing control over various home functions towards
a few form factors and standards. We talk about these in the next few sections.
Using your PDA as a remote control
One area that has seen some action is the personal digital assistant (PDA)
marketplace. PDAs have a sophisticated operating system (OS), usually the
Pocket PC or Palm OS. They have IR, 802.11, and sometimes Bluetooth wire-
less capabilities. And they have a programmable onscreen interface, making
it easy to show different buttons for different devices. These features make
PDAs ideal for wireless remote control of any entertainment, computing, or
other networked device. You can cue up an MP3 on your computer and play
it on your stereo system in your living room. You can find out whatâ€™s playing
on DirecTV tonight by wirelessly accessing TV schedules on the Internet and
then turn your DirecTV receiver to the right channel to watch. With the abil-
ity to play in both the PC and entertainment (as well as home control) worlds,
the PDA can do lots of things, as demonstrated by the following products:
Philips offers ProntoLITE (www.pronto.philips.com; $19.95), which
is a device that turns a Palm-based PDA into a universal remote control.
ProntoLITE for Palm is compatible with versions 3.5x and 4.x. Note: As
of this writing, it is not compatible with Palm OS version 5.0.
Universal Electronicâ€™s Nevo (www.mynevo.com) has a more onboard
remote control operating system solution, initially built into HPâ€™s iPAQ
272 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network
The popular Intrigue Technologiesâ€™ Harmony Smart State Technology,
which powers the Harmony Remote (www.harmonyremote.com) con-
trol, is being ported to PDAs. See the nearby sidebar (â€śTotal Harmony
with your wireless entertainmentâ€ť) for more about this cool product.
For people who want the flexibility of a big color screen, PDA-based programs
allow you to take advantage of the dropping costs of PDAs to get a world-class,
universal remote. Many PDA manufacturers are looking at making this a stan-
dard feature on their systems. Check out your PDAâ€™s home page on the manu-
facturerâ€™s site for any information on remote control software.