Home automation – the future of computer engineering


Hrachova Oleksandra



  1. 1.     Automation system. History.

Automation system or automation control is the use of various control systems for interacting with environment. Nowadays it is used almost in everu

Home automation has been a feature of science fiction writing for many years, but has only become practical since the early 20th сentury following the widespread introduction of electricity into the home, and the rapid advancement of information technology. Early remote control devices began to emerge in the late 1800s. For example, Nikola Tesla patented an idea for the remote control of vessels and vehicles in 1898.

The emergence of electrical home appliances began between 1915 and 1920; the decline in domestic servants meant that households needed cheap, mechanical replacements. Domestic electricity supply, however, was still in its infancy — meaning this luxury was afforded only the more affluent households.

Ideas similar to modern home automation systems originated during the World’s Fairs of the 1930s. Fairs in Chicago (1934)New York (1939) and (1964–65), depicted electrified and automated homes. In 1966 Jim Sutherland, an engineer working for Westinghouse Electric, developed a home automation system called «ECHO IV»; this was a private project and never commercialized.[11] The first «wired homes» were built by American hobbyists during the 1960s, but were limited by the technology of the times. The term «smart house» was first coined by the American Association of Housebuilders in 1984.

With the invention of the microcontroller, the cost of electronic control fell rapidly. Remote and intelligent control technologies were adopted by the building services industry and appliance manufacturers worldwide, as they offer the end user easily accessible and/or greater control of their product.

While there is still much room for growth, near 1.5 million home automation systems were installed in the US in 2012, and a sharp uptake could see shipments topping over 8 million in 2017.

2. Types of automation.

Feedback control is accomplished with a controller. To function properly a controller must provide correction in a manner that maintains stability. Maintaining stability is a principle objective of control theory.

As an example of feedback control, consider a steam coil air heater in which a temperature sensor measures the temperature of the heated air, which is the measured variable. This signal is constantly «fed back» to the controller, which compares it to the desired setting (set point). The controller calculates the difference (error), then calculates a correction and sends the correction signal to adjust the air pressure to a diaphragm that moves a positioner on the steam valve, opening or closing it by the calculated amount. All the elements constituting the measurement and control of a single variable are called a control loop.


Sequential control may be either to a fixed sequence or to a logical one that will perform different actions depending on various system states. An example of a adjustable but otherwise fixed sequence is a timer on a lawn sprinkler. An elevator is an example that uses logic based on the system states.

A basic form of sequential control is relay logic by which electrical relays engage electrical contacts which either start or interrupt power to a device. Relay logic was developed when starting and stopping industrial sized electric motors, opening and closing solenoid valves and starting and stopping other devices was done with relays, timers and other electrical hardware.

Computers can perform both sequential control and feedback control, and typically a single computer will do both in an industrial application. Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are a type of special purpose microprocessor that replaced many hardware components such as timers and drum sequencers used in relay logic. General purpose process control computers have increasingly replaced stand alone controllers, with a single computer able to perform the operations of hundreds of controllers.

  1. 3.     Devices

Controller is a “heart” of control system. It provides an ability to connect, interact and control all connected devices. They consist of buses and different ports.

TV tuner is a kind of television tuner that allows television signals to be received by a computer. Most TV tuners also function as video capture cards and can receive FM radio stations.

Switcher is a networking device that links network segments or network devices.

Control panel and keypad are  devices, which are used to interact with different types of objects as lights, TV, jalousie, projectors etc.

  1. 4.     The future of home automation

Advantages of home automation for the society are obvious : by simplification common doings such as opening jalousie, turning on/off lights, projectors and others comfort and higher speed of any event can be easily. Just imagine situation when for sudden business meeting all you need is enter the conference hall, push few buttons, touch the panel and begin working. This gives an ability to spend more time working and you don’t need to think about unnecessary things so the productivity can easily reach higher level.

As for engineers,  this field of computer science is still growing and abilities are near infinite. Begin from designing automation systems, and in future you may come up with new ideas and solutions. And the next step will be creating. The fantasy is only limit.

Resourses :


  1. http://www.crestron.com/
  2. http://www.leviton.com
  3. http://www.zigbee.org


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