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Thread: Is this possible?

  1. #1
    Automated Home Lurker
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    Default Is this possible?

    Hi All

    I am totally new to home automation, I have never tried it nor do I know much about it.

    We are planning on building our dream home so to speak in the next 5 years or so, at this moment I am simply investigating what I can and can't do in regards to this build and I'm hoping you guys could give me some insight.

    I have read other posts here and people say to be specific in what you want to achieve so here goes.

    We plan on a the following house:

    Lounge: HD Projector, 5.1 surround sound
    Family Room: TV, 5.1 surround sound
    Kitchen: TV, 5.1 surround sound, other applicances (ovens, dishwasher etc)
    Bed 1, 2, 3, 4: TV, 5.1 surround sound
    Rumpus: TV, 5.1 surround sound
    Laundry: Washing Machine, Dryer etc
    Pool (outside): Projector, 5.1 surround sound

    What I hope to do is put together a server computer (in a large wardrobe type room) which will be 1. A media server and 2. run the automation. In each of the rooms above I would be installing into the walls a barebones computer (something like a AMD A8 APU, 4gb Ram, SSD etc), I was looking into Raspberry Pi's for the local room computers but I have one and did tests and they are not quite up to the standard of power than I need, hopefully in a few years time there will be more powerful options so I could save money on the local computers.

    In each room the 5.1 surround sound speakers would be installed into the walls, and both the sound and the tv/projector would be controlled by the local computer. I will be running XBMC with a Mysql library for the whole house. I chose this local computer solution as I investigated having the server run multiple virtual machines for sound etc and that seemed like it would cause too many issues.

    Heres the hard part. I want know if I could install room microphones into each room (the larger rooms having two or more), and using voice recognition and scripting on the server, have all the home automation controlled by voice command, so my main questions are:

    1. Is there home automation products that control appliances like TV's, Dishwashers, Ovens etc? By control I mean able to turn them on/off mainly.
    2. All the rooms I hope to have fully automated, meaning curtains, lights, heating (will have a climate control vent system), even opening and closing doors? Is this possible?
    3. I have used free voice recognition software which I have been able to assign to keystrokes on my computer, which I have mainly used for gaming (giving commands via voice which equate into keystrokes on the computer). Is it possible to have home automation software that can be controlled by keystrokes (like shortcuts etc)?
    4. Does anyone have any experience in the voice controlled idea? Is this even possible with room mics (as they would be in the walls/ceiling, not close to the users mouth)?
    5. I would hope to be able to control XBMC via voice also (if the keystrokes thing could work then there is no reason why this couldn't work with xbmc in my mind)?
    6. Since the TV's/Sound is controlled by the local computers surely I could have independent sound/tv in each of the rooms at once? Again controlled via voice via commands from the server machine?

    Thats about all I can think of so far, quite ambitious I know but I'm thinking a new build is probably the best time to do this as I can hardwire everything in the walls for better quality etc.

    Thanks in advance for all your help.
    Last edited by stildawn; 26th June 2013 at 11:05 PM.

  2. #2
    Automated Home Guru Vangelis's Avatar
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    Hi there,

    Ref Voice control...Have a look at http://theubi.com it's an android based computer with voice recognition. They are looking to have an open API so should be able to hook into the technology you already favour.

    Vangelis

  3. #3
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    Interesting though it seems fairly limited in what it does.

  4. #4

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    Welcome Stildawn.

    Voice control is tricky. I know lots of people that have tried it and given up. Have a look at this new product...

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/hardw...utomation.html

    I think smartphones will be what gives you voice control of your home though.

    M.

  5. #5
    Automated Home Guru Vangelis's Avatar
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    Guess it depends on how much you want to spend. Ubi looks to be a fairly complete product for what it is being marketed for and the open Api means the limitations are somewhat down to the users imagination...

  6. #6
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    Ah thanks guys I guess I'll do some reading.

    Is there any purely software based voice recognition products? I googled and found: http://www.nuance.com/dragon/index.htm

    I was hoping there was a software that I could teach, like so that it can recognise my voice (and my families voice) for better accuracy, I have tried numerous android and other smartphone voice products but they all seem rubbish since they are designed to be to broad, I'm a kiwi so I probably sound a lot different to any normal voice of the people who make these programs.

    I'm hoping that I could string together voice separately into other home automation software, but I have no experience in them at all, how is normal home automation controlled via normal software?

  7. #7
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Software voice recognition still requires a fast pc, running not much else if you want sensible reaction times, by that I mean less than a couple of seconds.
    I have also tried the voice recognition in Homeseer. This was better but you did need to teach it your voice, which takes time. Also it worked better with short commands such as "Computer Lounge On" rather than a much longer sentence "Computer switch on lounge lights). Back ground noise was a big issue, especially if you had the TV on loud.
    Multiple room mikes help with general random background noise reduction, but won't help with a loud TV as much, unless you do some fancy processing work. The other problem is the more processing you need to do to the sound the longer the voice recognition will take. Noise Whitening is something that springs to mind, but may not help with the loud tv scenario. What would probably work in the loud TV scenario is a reference mike right next to the TV and several in the room, the signal from the reference mike is then subtracted from the combined output of the other mikes, this in theory would leave just your voice. And the quick way to do this is to invert the signal from the reference mike ( using some form of circuit) and then add this to the other mikes in the room. Remember the amount of extra mikes in the room doesn't increase the output in a linear fashion its normally the square root of the number of mikes, so 2 mikes increase the sensitivity by 1.41 three mikes by 1.73.

    Answers to the rest
    1. Yes. See Loxone or Idratek they have their own forum on here. Other options include Homeseer software with a suitable pc interface to your HA system.
    2 Yes. I have installed fully automated blind systems that can actually open and close depending on time of day, or a button by the bedside table will control a macro that after one press blinds up or down, two presses blinds half way, three presses some blinds up or down etc. Heating also possible on a room by room basis even with wet radiator systems. Take a look at the heating forum on here.
    Auto closing/opening doors are possible, but what happens in the event of a power outage or during an emergency and the power goes out how do you open them.
    3. see top of post
    4. Also see above. The Homeseer forum is quite good on this follow the link for Homeseer above.
    5. Have a look at the XMBC forums .
    6. Maybe, also look at Sonos for audio streaming. (I think I have understood what you want to do here)

    What I would do now is have a look at the various systems and see how many of the boxes they can tick and then look at ease of use, install etc and price. This will normally cut the HA system list down to a couple for you to choose from. Also contact the manufacturers of these systems and ask them directly. Both Loxone and Idratek have a good support service for people wanting to know more about their systems.
    If I was to do my house again I would either choose Loxone or Idratek. Already use XBMC, and now with these dual/ quad core android tv boxes makes sense to use these around the house , and would use Sonos to stream audio to the rest of the house.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

  8. #8
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    Wow thanks for the response lots to take in there.

    I think in regards to the voice controlled software that I might do a reduced system. Have remotes to control the local PC's (and hence XBMC), and have voice to control the other features (doors, curtains, lights, appliances etc) which I will use when the sound is off. Since I plan on installing 5.1 surround sound into every room with speakers built into the walls so if I wanted to do your reference mic idea to cut out the sound it would be an epic mission.

    1. Yes. See Loxone or Idratek they have their own forum on here. Other options include Homeseer software with a suitable pc interface to your HA system.

    So these systems allow me to directly control appliances? How do they work? Do I have to get a electronic electrician to rewire the switches/controls in the appliances? I understand TV could work through a universal IR remote type thing, but other appliances?

    2 Yes. I have installed fully automated blind systems that can actually open and close depending on time of day, or a button by the bedside table will control a macro that after one press blinds up or down, two presses blinds half way, three presses some blinds up or down etc. Heating also possible on a room by room basis even with wet radiator systems. Take a look at the heating forum on here.
    Auto closing/opening doors are possible, but what happens in the event of a power outage or during an emergency and the power goes out how do you open them.


    I think I'll have the blinds etc mostly on a timed schedule, but also voice controlled. With the doors I'd imagine like everything else there would still be the usual manual overide option (like using the door knob)??? Or would I have to chose one or the other?



    I think I need to start experimenting with this stuff before I actually build the house so I don't mess it up. Is there any like test systems I could play around with? Perhaps like the software side that I could mess with to see what it could do?

    Thanks

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