Home Automation System / Tablet PC
I would Dell to create a line of Home Automation Products starting with a Tablet PC that can be docked into a Flush-Mount Wall bracket. The concept would allow homes to start with a single system, but be able to expand to have one in every room. The system would allow for streaming of all audio and video from a central storage server. The system would run off of software like Charmed Quark Controller (kind of like the company Vidabox does). Basically a software package that can run on top of a Windows platform, and control Home Automation, Security, Audio, Video, etc.
The tablet would have both touch screen and stylus built-in. It would be a full powered tablet running a full version of Windows Vista / XP (not Windows Embedded). The tablet would be able to connect to a home server and display / operate the home system. (For an idea of the tablet size and design see the old HP TC1100 with removable keyboard… I don’t in any way support HP, it just happened to be a good example for this design). The tablet would be charged via PoE. It would also have an infrared port for controlling other devices like TVs, and audio systems when undocked.
The Wall Dock
The most important part of the design, this dock would allow the tablet to be flush mounted in a wall between studs. At the core, all the dock would need to have run to it is one PoE cable that is used to charge the tablet. This will make it very simple for DIY installers to install. I would make 3 or 4 wall mount bases to choose from (all compatible with the same Tablet).
Wall Dock 1 – Basic cheap wall docking kit. Not much more than a charging dock.
Wall Dock 2 – Basic docking kit with built in side speakers. Allows for better quality sound build right in.
Wall Dock 3 – Expanded dock with AV audio ports on the back (top) that would allow the system to connect to external speakers mounted in the ceiling. This built-in amplifier may require you to also run an additional power source to the dock. You could also build in connectors to cat5 enabled light switches directly into this base.
From this point, you expand into a wide range of options (all of which are add-ons that can make Dell profit). Examples:
- Built-in GPS tracking chips (for theft security mostly…)
- PoE Switches
- Light sockets with Cat5 connectors
- Heating and Air Controls
- Air Monitoring
- Security Camera’s
- Controller Software
- External Keyboards / Desktop Docking Stations (you would then also have to consider sound playback, via the dock when the tablet was undocked… but this is doable)
The idea is to use technology that already exists to create an Automation Standard that anyone can install. This also opens up a major market for the average network consultant who already has all the skills to setup a home network.
By using fully functioning tablet PCs, it will allow the home owner to utilize a single tablet PC for both home automation as well as random events (such as vacation, school) where they may want to take a laptop with them.