Our homes become the “hotbeds”, as Microsoft itself puts it, of new, innovative technology. If we before we had a TV and our desktop PC, now most of us tech adopters have set-top boxes, tablets, smartphones, security systems, gaming consoles and God knows what else. Microsoft is looking to unify all these devices sometime in the near future and has started a project in this direction – HomeOS.
Omogenity across devices is its aim and if at the moment it might not seem really urgent, you’ll be surprised of the needs you’ll have in the coming years. You’ll realize that you’ll want to see the video captured by your security on your smartphone or tablet, wherever you are right now in the world. Of course, Microsoft isn’t the first one in this field, the Internet of Things concept being around since 1999.
Up until now, Microsoft was also working on Lab of Things, which was a separate project, and it was expected that eventually, Microsoft would’ve merged it with HomeOS. And it has happened now:
Lab of Things (LoT) is a flexible platform for experimental research that uses connected devices in homes. LoT enables easy interconnection of devices and implementation of application scenarios, using HomeOS; easy deployment and monitoring of field studies and analysis of data from experiments, easy sharing of data, code, and participants, further lowering the barrier to evaluating ideas in a diverse set of homes.
Home automation is closer with HomeOS + Lab of Things
Now, those who were playing around with HomeOS should know that the Lab of Things framework has been added, which, of course, ties to Microsoft’s cloud service for such purposes – Windows Azure. The SDK for the Lab of Things is also available (link at the end of the article). At the moment, Microsoft is licensing the HomeOS prototype for free, in order to get academic and developer help to better research the project.
To put it shortly, you will get one central computer that will run HomeOS, called HomeHub. All the data gets stored on Windows Azure and is available throught the HomeHub. Using that data, researchers can then interpret it to perform and adjust their testing. It’s pretty weird that we have this central approach, since the very idea is to have everything interconnected, therefore to be able to access the HomeOS data, say, through a mobile app. But, as works are still going on, it’s expected that this feature will make its way into the project.
The HomeOS project has a future, that’s for sure. Right now, not all are interested in home automation but the first clients, if this sofware ever converts into a commercial product, will definitely come from the healthcare, business and energy management fields.