Microsoft offers update on HomeOS project

In 2010, Microsoft Research posted up a white paper on their HomeOS project, where the company described their efforts to create a home automation service through which devices inside a house could be interconnected. Now the project has apparently moved onto its next phase. Microsoft Research has posted up a new white paper (via News.com) that reveals the company is going forward with real world prototypes of its HomeOS concept.

The paper admits that the concept of a home automation system has its roots in entertainment and pop culture, saying:

Pop culture, research prototypes and corporate demos have all envisioned a smart, connected home where multiple devices cooperate to cater to users’ wishes with little or no effort. For instance, in a home with remotely controllable lights, cameras and locks, it should be easy to automatically adjust lights based on the weather and time of day as well as remotely view who is at the door before unlocking it.

Now that kind of system is being worked on in the real world. Microsoft says that HomeOS runs on a dedicated PC, much like a home server, inside a residence. The paper states:

It runs in 12 real homes and 42 students have developed applications using it. These homes run applications varying from getting e-mail notifications with photos when the front or back door is opened at unexpected times, to seamlessly migrating video around the house. Students have built applications ranging from using Kinect cameras to control devices via gestures to personalized, face-recognition-based reminder systems.

While it sounds like Microsoft is pretty serious about testing the potential of HomeOS, it remains to be seen if this will evolve beyond the research stage.

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