Introduction: Voice Control Your Home From Anywhere in the World

About: I'm a 49 year old Systems Architect living in the Midwestern United States. After travelling the world for 20 years as a consulting architect I became disabled, as a result, I am now embracing a Slow life. F…

...not science fiction anymore...

Using hardware and software available today, this Instructable will demonstrate how it is possible to voice control the majority of your home's systems via voice control, smartphone, tablet, and/or PC from anywhere in the world. This is intended as a survey of the technologies and products involved and how they integrate, but by no means is a nuts and bolts detailed explanation of an implementation of those technologies, as every home will be unique.

It might be possible to achieve the same results using alternate products and technologies, but what is presented here represents the extent of the author's expertise and implementation.

It is hoped that the information presented will be sufficient for anyone with interest to begin to automate their home. The Instructable is broken down into five sections:

  1. Home Security
  2. Cameras
  3. Lighting and Misc
  4. HVAC
  5. Integration and Voice Control

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Step 1: Home Security


These items form the basis of a home security system that can be integrated with a variety of other control platforms. The nice thing about the Elk M1 is that it also contains arrays of relays which can be leveraged to control items from irrigation systems to garage doors. This offers a great deal of flexibility. In our current implementation, these relays are used to control and monitor an indoor hydroponic tomato garden's water and nutrient systems. It also has a handy web interface and set of integration options

A PDF diagram is attached which may help show how each of these items fit together. Basically the infrared sensors and glassbreak detectors are wireless and communicate through the wireless receiver to the M1 system. The door and window switch sensors are wired and connect directly to the M1 as do the keypad arming station and M1 Console. This small arming station is used by the doors while the main M1 console is on a wall in the kitchen. A whole house surge protector is recommended to protect the hardware investment of not only the security modules, but the modules to come...

Step 2: Cameras


Foscam IP/Network Cameras

No security system would be complete without cameras, and these inexpensive ones are used since they can be integrated via simple wireless Internet networking protocols and have pan/tilt and night vision. Later in this Instructable they will integrate with our other systems. What really matters is that whichever brand of camera is used, it can be accessed via the homes wired or wireless IP network.

Step 3: Lighting and Misc


Automating lighting becomes a bit more complicated than the security system, however, this particular line of products integrate well with the security system from Step 1 and will be the cornerstone of our voice control in the last step. They communicate with each other and their controller, the ISY994i via dual-band communication using the power lines in the home as well as wirelessly.

As with the security step, a diagram is included to help clarify. The net-net is this: an ISY994i module is used to control fancy programmable and remotely accessible light switches, outlets, and other items. The PowerLinc Modem is used to ensure the two phases of power in a home are bridged wirelessly from a remote control standpoint, and the PowerLinc Controllers are used to give plug-in remote control ability to items and outlets that are old-fashioned, such as a lamp. Finally, the InLineLincs are used to control items like soffit lighting, where there are lights that are not controlled by light switches, and remote control is desired. The InLineLincs can easily be hidden in walls, under cabinets, etc...

The Elk integration module allows the lighting system to talk to the security system in Step 1, while the Mobilinc Integration Module will allow our lighting system to talk to our remote voice command software in Step 5.

Step 4: HVAC


Venstar T1800 Thermostat

Wireless Thermostat Receiver

In order to integrate the HVAC system and controls, a thermostat is used which is accessible via the ISY994i controller in the previous step. This will ensure that it will be exposed through the Mobilinc Integration module to our voice control in the next step. The wireless receiver plugs into the bottom of the thermostat and ensures that the two can communicate effectively.

In terms of thermostat selection, all that matters is that the thermostat be ISY-compatible and that the two can communicate effectively.

Step 5: Integration and Voice Command...and Phone Command, and Tablet Command...

In order to provide for straightforward use of all the gadgets and systems involved in the previous four steps, a software application called Mobilinc HD is used. Mobilinc HD communicates with the ISY994i which in turn communicates with the HVAC system, the switches, the security system, etc.. Mobilinc HD also communicates with the security cameras. At this point we can control all these things, through one application's screens, from anywhere in our home, provided our iPhone, Android Phone, or iPad is connected to the home's network.

Utilizing a service called Mobilinc Connect, the range of use of Mobilinc HD can be expanded beyond the home network to anywhere in the world there is an Internet connection available. Even if the system to be controlled only interfaces with the Elk relays from Step 1, they too can be controlled by creating a program in the ISY-994i which will be automatically exposed in Mobilinc HD.

Finally, Mobilinc HD has an optional voice command module which allows you to access any of the items on the screen from the security system, to the lighting, to the HVAC, to the hydroponics program, using simple user-specified voice commands.

So there it is, voice command of virtually all a home's major systems from anywhere in the world.

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