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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12 Comments

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deep1234 said,
Is there a way to get my hands on this? I want to start this at home.

I was thinking the same. I'd love to play around with this and the tools in particular... I wonder what language it even uses...

M_Lyons10 said,

I was thinking the same. I'd love to play around with this and the tools in particular... I wonder what language it even uses...

Most likely C# with some aspects done using WCF patterns along with ASP.net and Netduino, as well as kinect.

I remember this being demoed years ago on the Food Network. Can't remember if it was still called HomeOS or just Home, but it was very intriguing. I clearly remember being able to scan the UPC code on a cup of Ramen to automatically set the time on the microwave, the TVs notifying you that the microwave was done, voice commands, and projectors to show recipes on countertops (complete with templates for rolling out dough).

It was certainly interesting back then and definitely still interests me now. I really hope to see this go somewhere.

I want a good open source home automation package. I think it would be pretty popular. Simple things like thermostats and controlling each vent in each room separately.

Perhaps security cameras, garage doors, stuff like that. I'd love to see this.

ObiWanToby said,
I want a good open source home automation package. I think it would be pretty popular. Simple things like thermostats and controlling each vent in each room separately.

Perhaps security cameras, garage doors, stuff like that. I'd love to see this.

Yes, My exact thoughts.

ObiWanToby said,
I want a good open source home automation package. I think it would be pretty popular. Simple things like thermostats and controlling each vent in each room separately.

Perhaps security cameras, garage doors, stuff like that. I'd love to see this.

I'm a little bit curious, why does it have to be open source? are you a programmer? what benefits would it be to you if it's open source instead of closed souce?

from my point of view as long as the tools to program the OS is free, it doesn't matter if it's open or closed.

ctrl_alt_delete said,

I'm a little bit curious, why does it have to be open source? are you a programmer? what benefits would it be to you if it's open source instead of closed souce?

from my point of view as long as the tools to program the OS is free, it doesn't matter if it's open or closed.


+1 I never understood this argument. I'd much prefer GOOD tools (Such as Microsoft is known for) than open source tools that are generally not near as good...

ObiWanToby said,
I want a good open source home automation package. I think it would be pretty popular. Simple things like thermostats and controlling each vent in each room separately.

Perhaps security cameras, garage doors, stuff like that. I'd love to see this.


Controlling each vent separately would require each room to be it's own zone from the furnace... This is MUCH more involved than a simple software solution and would cost a small fortune to do...

ctrl_alt_delete said,
I'm a little bit curious, why does it have to be open source? are you a programmer? what benefits would it be to you if it's open source instead of closed souce?

from my point of view as long as the tools to program the OS is free, it doesn't matter if it's open or closed.


For stuff like this (i.e. stuff that may have cameras and an internet connection), I generally prefer open source software. That way you can be assured that the program isn't doing anything malicious, I mean, even if you're not a programmer, you can generally assume that someone else is.

ctrl_alt_delete said,

I'm a little bit curious, why does it have to be open source? are you a programmer? what benefits would it be to you if it's open source instead of closed souce?

from my point of view as long as the tools to program the OS is free, it doesn't matter if it's open or closed.

I am a programmer, and I prefer to fix my own bugs rather than emailing developers and waiting. I can't fix all of them, but annoying little things are nice to fix! Otherwise sure, I do not really care open vs closed.

M_Lyons10 said,

Controlling each vent separately would require each room to be it's own zone from the furnace... This is MUCH more involved than a simple software solution and would cost a small fortune to do...

Each room would need a temperature probe and a servo on the vents. You could use a simple proportional controller. I do not know about you but rooms in my house are all different temperatures. No reason to heat up upstairs rooms when the downstairs rooms are colder. Close those vents ....

My university had some simple controls like that. It worked pretty well. We do not need sophisticated per room heaters or PID controllers.