Less than a year ago, Microsoft Research began tinkering with the idea to create an “operating system” for the home dubbed “HomeOS“. In the months since, it turns out students from a number of US universities have spent their semesters prototyping some pretty cool applications for such a platform.
In the video above, students of the University of Washington demonstrate five such applications including:
- Improving security with camera on a door a doorthat senses the presence of visitors and notifies users with an image of the person on the PC or phone. The user can then unlock the door remotely, even if they’re not at home. The system also archives the photo for future reference and could be enhanced with facial recognition.
- Tracking user’s location within a house by using the phone to detects the variance in WiFi signal strengths of access points around you. By knowing which room a user may be in, one use is enabling media playback to follow the user around the house and continuing where they left off.
- Controlling lights by pointing to them using the Kinect sensors to predict which device the user is pointing to.
- Making alarms more contextually-aware with integration into a user’s appointments and driving traffic information that adjusts the time to wake the user.
- A system to enable the access of devices inside a private network from an outside public network. (Not too sure how this is different to a NAT traversal)
Since HomeOS is currently limited to an academic audience only, it’ll be interesting to see when Microsoft Research will expand the availability to the broader developer community and most importantly, embedded hardware designers, to experiment more broadly with.
With Google already making a bet on home automation systems with the Android@Home sneak peek just a couple months ago, you can bet this won’t be the last you’ll hear or see of HomeOS.