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Review: HomeSeer's Home Controller Gets Smarter

HomeSeer Technologies' Pro-100 is truly a home controller aimed at the mass market: It's affordable, sports an open architecture and is easy to use.

At its core, HomeSeer Pro-100 is a device controller designed to integrate various systems from different manufacturers. Through its Pro-100 software, HomeSeer engineers have built many drivers, allowing integrators to install most, if not all, of their customers' devices. HomeSeer's SDK provides full access to Pro-100 internal commands and supports JavaScript, VBScript and PerlScript. The company also sells third-party plug-ins through the HomeSeer Web site.

Pro-100's vendor plug-in library is impressive. The controller supports devices that use Z-Wave, Universal Powerline Bus (UPB), Insteon, X-10 and IR protocols. Pro-100 also interfaces with specialized lighting switches, security panels, RFID, thermostats and third-party controllers.

All Pro-100 setup features are Web-based and accessible through an internal Web server. To protect the site, Pro-100 provides SSL and can generate an automatic certificate. Integrators also can create their own certificates. Server port numbers are configurable as well. The controller has a built-in e-mail server, so events and alerts can be driven by messages.

Digital integrators can be creative in many ways with this unit. For instance, an RFID tag on a car, once it is within range of a Pro-100, can trigger a whole series of events, such as turning on lights, opening garage doors and changing thermostat settings.

Creativity can be applied to wall-mounted controllers since the Pro-100 also supports a variety of fully customizable switches, keypads and touch-screen displays. Digital Connect Lab engineers liked that the Pro-100 allows integrators to use more than just touch-screen displays. If a user wants a simple master switch to simultaneously activate lighting in multiple locations, integrators can connect UPB or X-10 wall-mounted controllers right into a Pro-100 box and set up a sequence of lighting events in the HomeSeer software.

Every device connected to a Pro-100 is identified by a unique address, allowing independent control of devices and sequences. When using dimmers, for instance, integrators can create unique dimming sequences by using buttons on a keypad.

Through Pro-100's voice-recognition software, clients can use voice commands to name sequences of events. For example, by saying a word or phrase on the phone, the Pro-100 can arm a security system and turn on outdoor lights. The voice-recognition technology also works with open-aired microphones, allowing users to speak commands from anywhere in the home.

By connecting the Pro-100 with a home phone line through a HomeSeer Way2Call phone USB modem, integrators can create highly customizable messages to initiate any set of events using any combination of appliances and switches. By just pushing the pound key on any phone in a home, users can instruct the Pro-100 to dim the lights in the basement to 50 percent, turn on the stereo or even find tomorrow's weather.

Integrators also can implement text-to-speech announcements by combining phone ID messages with Pro-100's voice- recognition software. This technology can be extended to PDAs and notebooks via the Web. By using dynamic DNS, integrators can provide access to Pro-100s, allowing homeowners to create some simple events. What's more, by connecting PDAs and cell phones through Pro-100's e-mail server, integrators can send security messages to homeowners and use the Pro-100's messaging system to access log information.


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