IBM Dives Into the Home Automation Market

Last week, IBM announced the introduction of its IBM Home Director home networking system, controllable from a PC or television screen. Although initially targeted at the new-home construction market, IBM says that Home Director can be retrofitted to most existing homes.

The system consists of two components: the IBM Home Network Controller and the IBM Home Network Connection Center. According to IBM, the Home Director uses the Home Network Controller and the connectivity of the Home Network Connection Center to facilitate communication between the various systems that exist in the average home. Connecting these systems through the Home Network Connection Center gives the homeowner up to 16 separate video feeds, a local area network for up to four PCs, up to four separate telephone lines, lighting control through the existing power lines, video monitoring through up to four remote in-home cameras, and control of intelligent devices through low-voltage wiring.

"In developing Home Director, we looked at how traditional home systems were being installed and identified the key aspects that deliver the greatest benefits to home owners," said Mary Walker, General Manager of IBM Home Networking. "Prior to Home Director, systems with similar capabilities were created on an individual basis with little standardization, and often required significant technical knowledge to operate. IBM has not only created a system with improved reliability through a pre-fabricated solution, but also a system that is flexible and designed with the average home owner in mind."

"IBM is the first major technology company to address home networking with a total solution for the new-home buyer," said Tricia Parks, president of Parks Associates, Dallas, Texas. "Beyond just delivering technology expertise to the area of home networking and automation, IBM has developed a first-of-its-kind support system that means the Home Director owner is never more than a phone call away from a local support person. That's the key to success in this market."

IBM says it is working closely with builders and developers in the United States to develop communities that will be "powered by IBM," including developing the technology infrastructure that will connect Home Director homes to their surrounding communities. The company predicts that complete communities of this nature will appear in the near future.