Dumb as a Door Knocker?

June 2, 2009
New ip-controlled door entry systems come a-knockin’

Initially, IP-enabled devices were found only in the home office, and then there was a spread of IP connectivity into our family room, where we could view and listen to content across the home network and onto our large-screen family room TV. Over the years, we’ve enhanced these entertainment offerings in the family room TV with Internet- based entertainment services.

Now we’re seeing the next generation of IP connectivity in the form of home control and security. To be sure, products like Control4, Life-ware, Crestron, AMX, HomeLogic, HAI, iControl,
This summer we’re seeing the first releases
This summer we’re seeing the first releases of residential
IP-controlled door entry systems from Black
and Decker and Schlage (pictured). 
Savant, and many others have been adding IP-based control systems in the home for the last several years. In previous columns I’ve also written about my IP-based Chumby alarm clock (which I have found to be very useful, it always tell me exactly the correct time and streams wakeup music from my Pandora favorite channels) and our IP-based piano from PianoDisc which plays any MIDI file that I can search on Google. My sprinkler systems are IP controlled, and IP cameras have become one of our company’s standard offerings, especially for our clients with second homes.

But the latest march of IP connectivity into products that have traditionally been as “dumb as a door knocker” is what now captures my integration imagination. This summer we’re seeing the first releases of residential IP-controlled door entry systems. Door entry products from Black and Decker (their Baldwin and Kwikset lines, see www.bdhhi.com/accesscontrol/) and Schlage (http://consumer.schlage.com/LiNK/product_tou r/default.asp) now offer homeowners the ability to add intelligent control and monitoring of their door entry systems.

Anyone with a broadband connection, router, and computer or web-enabled phone can set and release permanent or temporary access codes, read who has entered a door and when they entered, and lock or unlock
Gordon van Zuiden
doors remotely. In addition, when these systems are linked into home control systems from many of the companies mentioned in the previous paragraph, then door locks can be integrated with security and lighting systems to automatically arm or disarm security systems or turn on or turn off lighting scenes.

These new IP-based door access products communicate their status to the home network over Zigbee or Z-wave mesh network protocols and are powered by batteries built into the locking mechanism so that no additional wiring is required to enable these products. Now your home’s entry-control system can be more like your automobile’s—one key fob and you can click and unlock or lock all of your home’s doors, along with turning on or off the appropriate entry or exit lights.

In my opinion, these new door access products represent a watershed event for integrated, intelligent devices in the home. Black and Decker and Schlage are large, well-established consumer product companies that are now advancing their products’ intelligence in addition to enhancing their appearance and mechanical functionality. With the widespread adoption of always-on broadband Internet access in the home, web-enabled cell phones, and now the greater acceptance of the Zigbee and Zwave mesh wireless protocol standards, the table is now set for a much greater number of manufacturers to add IP intelligence to their product line at affordable price points. Already we’re beginning to see a number of products released with IP connectivity that report energy consumption of electrical products around the home (see the Watts Up line of products at www.wattsupmeters.com/secure/about.php), and I can envision the day in the near future when many of our kitchen and laundry room appliances will have IP connectivity to our home network and our cell phone control points across Zigbee and Z-wave communication bridges.

The infrastructure to wirelessly add and control intelligent devices is now in place for millions of homes across America and the opportunity for large consumer appliance and hardware manufacturers to add IP intelligence to their products is very compelling. As custom electronic integrators, our domain of integration expertise has never been broader or more exciting.

Gordon van Zuiden (gordon@cybermanor.com) is president of cyberManor, in Los Gatos, California.

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