It seems that in the near future NTT-Neomeit, a subsidiary of NTT will launch a service that will allow customers to remote control devices in their houses via their mobile phone.
From what I can read from Pink Tentacle here are the main features of the system:
- Customers will control remote devices using a web interface on their mobile phone.
- The web server will (probably) sit on a wireless route at the customer’s home.
- A set of infrared transmitters and receivers will control consumer like devices (TV Set, VCR, PVR, etc.).
- Remote controlled switches connected to power outlets will allow users to control devices without infrared. (Lamps, etc.)
- User will also be able to monitor the status and usage of these devices.
- Customers will be able to rent the needed equipment and service for 500 Yen a month (4 USD).
- Well this sounds as a very nice application even if it is clear that is has some limitations.
Infrared communications will need a line of sight with the controlled device. I suppose that the infrared trasmitted will be connected to a power outlet and controlled over the power line. It would be interesting to understand how the communications between these devices happen.
For these kind of application I think that infrared has too many limitations even if it’s still the cheapest and easier technology available for consumer grade devices.
Even if you are able to connect remote controlled switches to the system and control devices via infrared there are still a lot of devices in our households that cannot be controlled in this way. I am just thinking to alarm systems, security cameras, heating/cooling systems, etc.
In this case infrared will not work and also power switches will not work.
In some way these are smarter devices that need a little bit more of intelligence to be controlled. Probably the approach to these kind of devices is controlling them using some kind of protocol that you can route over power lines in your household. Something similar to what happens with X10. (Have a look at Smarthome if you do not know anything about X10)
My personal feeling is that there is not really new in this application. Sure it’s targeting the consumer market for the first time and is involving the mobile phone as a control device but it does not sound new at all.
Technology was already there from several years but it was never able to reach the mass market. The price tag seems to be quite aggressive but we should wait and see what’s there in the basic package for 4 USD a month.
Why do I blog this? Another example of what you can get wrapping together technologies.