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Smart Living Journal

Social networking comes to the world of home-control systems

Home Automation companies like the one we carry, Control4, are increasingly building social-networking functions into their product lines. Control4 is developing a system that will allow users to tap into websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube right from their home-control interfaces.

[ by Lisa Montgomery of Electronics House ]
You’ve just downloaded a great song from Rhapsody onto your music server. You’d like to recommend it to your circle of friends, so you jump on Facebook and post your opinion. Your kids just got home from school, and just as you’ve instructed them, they tweet you to let you know they’re okay. Social networking has forever changed the way we communicate, and manufacturers of home control systems are starting to bring bits and pieces of the technology into their products.

Control4, for example, plans to make available to consumers downloadable applications for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Flickr.

“They’ll be able to access these sites directly from their home control touchscreens and other interfaces,” says Jeff Dugan, vice president for product management. “On an even higher level, the control system will be able to communicate certain things about your home automatically, like sending you a tweet when a security sensor notices that the kids have arrived home from school. Or there might be an app that would allow certain security cameras to take snapshots (like of a party at your pool) and post them on Facebook.”

Control4 expects a number of social networking apps to be available through its 4Store online app store this year, so keep your eyes peeled. Home control manufacturer Crestron reports that a number of custom electronics professionals have started to incorporate social networking features into its high-end home control system.

“We’ve seen them use it so that when, for example, you’ve just downloaded The Hurt Locker the system will automatically send out a tweet.”

One manufacturer that’s been offering social networking as part of its technology package for awhile is Sonos. The company’s S5 wireless whole-house music system integrates Twitter, which enables users to send the name and artist of the track they’re currently playing to friends on their network directly from the system’s handheld remote.