Whole home 802.11-based IR coverage
Other devices, namely Web tablets and standalone touchscreens, are sport-
ing IR interfaces and can become remotes for your whole home, too. (Whole
home means that you can use it anywhere that your wireless net reaches for
a broad range of devices anywhere in your home; check out Chapter 1 for
more details about whole home.)
One of the really cool wireless-enabled options is iPronto
(www.pronto.philips.com; $1,699), which is a Web tablet-like device that
enables you to do all sorts of chores. Phillips describes this wireless, mobile
device as a â€śdashboard for the digital homeâ€ť that combines home entertain-
ment, security, and other systems control as well as 802.11b wireless LAN
and broadband Internet access. Thatâ€™s a lot to pack in one device.
With iPronto (model TSi6400), you can control your A/V system components,
check out program guides, and surf the Web â€” all while connected wirelessly
to your home 802.11b network. Users can easily control devices via the high-
resolution, touchscreen LCD, combined with a customizable user interface
and exterior hard buttons. The system features a built-in microphone and
stereo speakers, allowing users to listen to MP3s from the Internet and to
future-proof themselves for applications such as voice recognition and tele-
phony. Way cool.
One really neat capability of iPronto is its ability to link with your homeâ€™s
802.11b network to communicate with IR-enabled, network-extender devices
in other rooms. Suppose that youâ€™re in your master bedroom and youâ€™re lis-
tening to a Turtle Beach AudioTron (www.turtlebeach.com; $299) AT100
Digital Music Player through your remote wireless speakers, and you want to
change stations. Just grab your iPronto and tap-tap-tap, you can change the
song thatâ€™s playing. Because the AT100 isnâ€™t wireless (although the higher-
end AT200 model is), youâ€™d have to go all the way downstairs to point the
remote at the AT100 to change stations. Thatâ€™s the whole home advantage!
Chapter 14: Other Cool Things You Can Network
In an iPronto model, you could have a network extender in the room that has
IR-emitter capability. The iPronto can communicate via 802.11b to the net-
work extender, giving it the proper codes to send to the AudioTron via IR,
and voilĂ ! (or walla! as a former employee once wrote in a presentation), you
can change stations without leaving your bed. You could have whole home
infrared-capability linked via 802.11. Thatâ€™s really neat.
The latest technology to hit the streets is the SST Component Framework.
From Intrigue Technologies (makers of the popular Harmony Remote that we
mention earlier in this chapter), this technology basically enables you to use
its software and database on any devices that you want, such as personal
computers, Web pads, Pocket PCs, Palm Pilots, or even cellular phones. This
allows you to choose the particular components that are best for your house.
It works like this: You create an account on the Harmony Remote Web site
and specify the devices in your house, along with the activities (such as
Watch a DVD) that use those devices. Using the Harmony SST database, the
Web site then creates a file that contains your houseâ€™s personality. This per-
sonality file can then be sent to your control device either through a USB or
See me, feel me, hear me, touch me
Other neat touchpanels are ideal for whole home wireless control. Youâ€™re
probably familiar with touchscreens, if youâ€™ve ever used a kiosk in a mall to
find a store or at a hotel to find a restaurant. Touchpanels are smaller (typi-
cally 6â€“10" screens) and are wall mounted or simply lie on a table; you touch
the screen to accomplish certain things.
Touchpanels have become a real centerpiece for expensive home control
installations, where touchpanels allow you to turn on and off the air condi-
tioning, set the alarm, turn off the lights, select music, change channels on
the TV . . . and the list goes on. These are merely user interfaces into often
PC-driven functionality that can control almost anything in your house, even
the coffee maker.
Crestron (www.crestron.com) rules the upper end of touchpanel options
with a whole product line for home control that includes wireless-enabled
touchpanels. Crestronâ€™s color touchpad systems are to die for (or at least to
second-mortgage for). Weâ€™d say, â€śThe only thing these touchpanels cannot do
is let the dog out on cold nights,â€ť but as soon as we said it, someone would
retort, â€śWell, actually, they can.â€ť
274 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network
Although some of Crestronâ€™s current products use 434 MHz wireless RF to
communicate with each other, Crestron also has many 802.11 wireless solu-
tions, including PDA control of Crestron via 802.11 using any PocketPC 2002-
powered device, as well as full support for Microsoft Tablet PC OS. You can
design your own graphical layouts for the devices using Crestronâ€™s touch-
panel design software, VTPRO-e, so you can use a PDA/Web tablet for control,
just like you would a wall-mounted Crestron touchpanel. In addition, Crestron
is working very closely with Viewsonic to allow use of Viewsonic 802.11b-
enabled Web tablets to control the homeâ€™s systems.
Crestron is definitely high end â€” the average Crestron installation tops
$50,000. But if youâ€™re installing a home theater, a wireless computing network,
a slew of A/V, and home automation on top of that, youâ€™re probably going to
talk to Crestron at one point or another.
An up-and-coming, lower-cost alternative to Crestron is CorAccess
(www.coraccess.com), which offers a line of products that are 802.11b (and
soon 802.11g) enabled. Dubbed the CorAccess Companion, these products
are a pretty sleek and convenient way to interface with various home automa-
tion products, such as the HAI Omni and OnQ HMS home control software
systems that allow you to manage the systems in your home (see Figure 14-4).
CorAccess also has added some nifty applications to boost this from just
being a touchpanel for controls. Its PhotoMate software turns the Companion
into a digital picture frame. When not in control mode, it displays a single pic-
ture or slideshow; images of the kids, your last vacation, or even updates of
news and weather downloaded from the Internet. You can manage your
Companion and its photo presentations from CorPhoto
(www.corphoto.com), which is the CorAccess digital photo exchange site.
The Companion also comes equipped with a full Camera Monitoring applica-
tion where you can view as many cameras as youâ€™d like, one or four at a time.
With just a touch, you can go to full screen, stop on particular cameras, or
change the delay time between camera views. Or you can add camera views
available through the Internet to see local traffic, weather, or any other IP-
based camera (such as the Panasonic or D-Link cameras that we discuss ear-
lier in the chapter).
The optional AudioMate application from CorAccess can be used to play
music from your home network or streaming content from the Internet and
can even become your home intercom system. An AudioMate intercom isnâ€™t
limited to just inside the home, however. The CorAccess Voice over IP- (VoIP)
based communication system allows Companion to talk to a multitude of
other devices . . . from the Companion in the entryway to a laptop downtown
or a PC halfway around the world.
Chapter 14: Other Cool Things You Can Network
When linked to the HAI Omni system (www.homeauto.com), you add in an
automation and security controller. Omni coordinates lighting, heating and air,
security, scenes, and messaging based on activity and schedules. Omni comes
with several standard modes, such as Day, Night, Away, and Vacation, and
can accept customized scenes such as Good Night, Good Morning, or Entert-
ainment that set temperatures, lights, and security to the desired levels â€” all
with just one touch. Security and temperature sensors can be used to adjust
lights, appliances, and thermostats; monitor activity; and track events.
So much control, so little time. The CorAccess products come in a wall mount
or tablet version. Pricing ranges from $1,999 to $2,499. An HAI system adds
about $1,500 to $3,500 to the mix.
If youâ€™re really interested in home automation and linking the various aspects
of your home together, try Smart Homes For Dummies, by Wiley Publishing,
Inc. Itâ€™s the best book on the topic. (Can you tell that Pat and Danny wrote it?)
Sit, Ubu, Sit . . . Speak!
Your wireless network can help with your pet tricks, too! Although weâ€™re not
sure that this is what the pet trainer meant when she said that sheâ€™d teach
276 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network
your dog to speak, but speak he can if heâ€™s Sonyâ€™s AIBO robotic dog
(www.aibo.com; $1,500 and up). Donâ€™t be misled and think of this as a cute
expensive toy â€” this is one incredible robot. If you donâ€™t know much about
the AIBO, check out its Web site to find out about this robotic puppy. Itâ€™s neat
how Sony has wirelessly enabled its robo-dog with 802.11b.
All you need to do is buy an AIBO wireless LAN 802.11b card and a program-
ming Memory Stick (assuming that youâ€™ve already got an AIBO), and your
pooch roves about constantly linked to your home wireless network. With
AIBO Messenger software, AIBO can read your e-mail and home pages. AIBO
will tell you when your receive e-mail in your inbox. AIBO will read your e-mail
messages to you. (â€śHey, Master, you got an e-mail from your girlfriend. She
dumped you.â€ť) AIBO can read up to five pre-registered Web sites for you. And
AIBO will remind you of important events.
With AIBO Navigator software, your computer becomes AIBOâ€™s remote-control
unit. From the cockpit view on your PC, you can experience the world from
AIBOâ€™s eyes in real-time. (You know, there are just some things that a dog sees
that we really would rather not see!)
Through the control graphical user interface (GUI) on your PC, you can
move your AIBO anywhere that you want. Use a joystick or your keyboard
and mouse to move AIBO about. By using the sound transmission feature,
you can make AIBO speak instead of you from a remote location. (â€śHey, baby,
howâ€™s about you and me going out for a cup of coffee?â€ť)
Weâ€™re not sure that youâ€™re ready to start telling people that your dog has an
SSID (â€śAIBONETâ€ť), but this is one good example today of robots using your
home wireless highway. Above all, make sure that you turn on WEP and follow
the security suggestions that we give you in Chapter 10. (Could you imagine
taking control of your neighborâ€™s un-secured AIBO â€” now THAT could be
fun!) You can find out more about setting up an AIBO on your wireless LAN
Using a Bluetooth Network
In This Chapter
Delving into Bluetooth
Enabling cell phone networking with Bluetooth
Getting Bluetooth on your PDA or PC
Discovering other Bluetooth devices
M ost of the time, when people talk about wireless networks, theyâ€™re talk-
ing about wireless local area networks (LANs). LANs, as the name
implies, are local, meaning that they donâ€™t cover a wide area (like a town or a
city block). Wide area networks (WANs), like the Internet, do that bigger job.
For the most part, you can think of a LAN as something thatâ€™s designed to
cover your entire house (and maybe surrounding areas like the back patio).
Another kind of wireless network is being developed and promoted by wireless
equipment manufacturers called the personal area network (PAN), which is
designed to cover just a few yards of space and not a whole house (or office,
or factory floor, or whatever). PANs are typically designed to connect personal
devices (cell phones, laptop computers, and handheld computers/personal
digital assistants [PDAs]) and also as a technology for connecting peripheral
devices to these personal electronics. For example, you could use a wireless
PAN technology to connect a mouse and a keyboard to your computer without
any cables under the desk for your beagle to trip over.
The difference between LANs and PANs isnâ€™t all that clear cut. Some devices
might be able to establish network connections by using either LAN or PAN
technologies. The bottom-line distinction between LANs and PANs is this: If
something connects to a computer by a network cable today, its wireless con-
nection will usually be a LAN; if it connects by a local cable (like Universal
Serial Bus [USB]), its wireless connection will usually be a PAN.
In this chapter, we discuss the most prominent wireless PAN technology:
Bluetooth, which we introduce in Chapter 3. Bluetooth is a technology thatâ€™s
been in development for years and years. We first wrote about it in our first
edition of Smart Homes For Dummies (Wiley Publishing, Inc.) in 1999. For a
278 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network
while, it seemed that Bluetooth might end up in the historical dustbin of wire-
less networking â€” a great idea that never panned out â€” but as we write, it
appears that the technology has caught up with its promise. We expect to see
a ton of new Bluetooth devices hitting the market over the next few years.
Bluetooth is still a relatively new technology. Although a lot of Bluetooth
products (mainly cell phones and cell phone accessories) are now available,
other Bluetooth products (such as keyboards) arenâ€™t widely available in the
United States (where weâ€™re based). Bluetooth seems to be taking off first in
Europe (and to a slightly lesser degree, in Asia) and moving over to the
United States a bit more slowly. This isnâ€™t really surprising because a lot of
mobile technologies (particularly cell phone-related technologies) have been
developing faster in those places than they have in the U.S. We mention this
because some of the Bluetooth categories that we discuss in this chapter are
really in the coming-soon category when it comes to U.S. availability. Weâ€™re
confident that many of these devices will be available in the U.S. by the time
that you read this (or soon thereafter), but as we write in early 2003, theyâ€™re
not quite here yet. A great resource for finding cool Bluetooth gear before it
becomes generally available in the U.S. is the BlueUnplugged online store
based in England (www.blueunplugged.com).
Discovering Bluetooth Basics
Letâ€™s get the biggest question out of the way first: What the heck is up with
that name? Well, itâ€™s got nothing to do with what happens when you chew
on your pen a bit too hard during a stressful meeting. Nor do blueberry pie,
blueberry toaster pastries, or any other blue food. Actually, Bluetooth (www.