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Digital Dream Home With Brains

Here are some components of a typical home automation and security scenario, from the perspective of a living room.

Universal Remote Controller

This controller "talks" to more than just your television or DVD player: 1t can be programmed to control your air-conditioning system, your motorised window blinds, and all the lights too, The advanced models came with a touchsereen and can display icons and information. 

Intelligent Light Switches

In a nutshell, these switches can be programmed to control several lights at the flick of a button. You can switch on or dim certain lights to create a specific ambience, or switch off all lights at the same time. These switches look like and actually replace standard light switches on the wall.

Automated Light Sensors (fitted In Ceiling)

Infra-red sensors in a smaller roam or area (like the toilet) will trigger the intelligent light switch to turn on the lights when you enter the room - and it's lights out when you exit.

Motorised Window Blinds

While you can control these blinds from a wall switch, fitting a radio frequency (RF) or infra-red (RF) control module means you can roll up the blinds SF from the comfort of your seat.

Video Cameras

That send their visuals via normal video cables to a....

A Set-Top Recording Box

It consolidates all the incoming video signals and regards the images to a hard drive. The video images can be displayed on a television screen too.

Your Computer

The computer can be connected to the network of home automation devices, using an adapter. Customised software can be used to program settings for lights.

Intrusion. Detectors

Common detectors are based on Passive Infra Red (PIR) technology; and can be programmed to set off an alarm system (with sirens and flashing lights) in the house.

Home Gateway

This panel-like device works like a router, and links the home automation network to the Internet or to a telephone network. You can configure this gateway to alert you through your mobile phone if an intruder is detected, or to let you turn on the light using SMS commands.

Home Automation Modules

These look like normal power adapters that plug into electrical sockets, but are actually "networking" adapters that allow commands to be sent to electrical appliances, using the home electrical wiring system for connectivity. Attaching one such module to a coffee machine turns it into an "intelligent" appliances; for instance. Some adapters also send or receive commands via RF or IR.

Stop Eating Into My Space

Our Dining Area Sits Between The Main Door, Living Area And Bedrooms. How Can I Get A Proper Dining Table For Six Without Blocking The Way?

Look at your layout to see where the traffic flow can be eased. If it is too tight, remove some walls so that the dining area can be moved out of the common zone. Or consult a designer to see if you can steal some space for the dining room from the kitchen or an adjoining room. If it is the dining table that is sticking out, consider getting an expandable table. A four-Beater can unfold to seat six or more, and fold back between meal-times to give more space to the other areas.

I'm Thinking Of Putting A Jacuzzi Bath In The Balcony. Is This Too Crazy?

There is no reason you cannot put a Jacuzzi bath in the open balcony. Just add a screen of, say, timber slats and landscaping for privacy and an ambience of a secret garden.
A water-filled Jacuzzi is very heavy. To avoid over-stressing the floor, get an architect to look into the crucial engineering issues. Select lightweight materials like an acrylic or fibreglass tub, and a timber platform to hide the plumbing. Add a cabinet to hold towels and bath products - you don't want to have to walk back to your bedroom to get them.

How Do I Get Rid Of The Stains On The Silicon Sealant Around My Bathtub?

Grout and tile cleaners may not be effective if the stains are inside the sealant. Stains in tile grouting, especially in wet areas like bathrooms, are likely to be 

Our House Was Sprayed With A Pebbly Surface By The Previous Owner. Can I Use Wallpaper, Instead Of Plaster, To Cover The Pipes, Some Of Which Are In The Toilet?

That is not a good solution as the wallpaper design will be distorted. Also, plumbing joints need to be left clear for checks when there is a leak. If you can't stand the look, get a contractor to check the kind of finish used to determine the method of removal. Or plaster it yourself with ready-mixed ones. Remember to keep clear of the plumbing joints.


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