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(Part 1 of my COMP2014 catch-up posts)

After finishing our proof of concept for COMP2013 we spent a week on literature review followed by a week on design. We looked into other home automation systems and the possibility of generalising the hardware we use rather than focusing on Gadgeteer / Arduino.

We also wanted to move away from the problems of wiring everything together that we encountered with our proof of concept. To solve this we decided to use a variety of wireless sensors and where we couldn’t find a wireless sensor we planned to make one using Arduino’s and WiFi shields. This raised the issue of the cost of WiFi shields for the Arduino since their price is considerable. We found a project called Pinoccio (http://vimeo.com/57003423) that looked promising but in the end we decided to stick with the WiFi shields since they were easier to get hold of and we intended to use as many other sensors as possible too.

LightwaveRF and Wemo also grabbed our interest and we plan on adding these to the system. They offer sensors such as energy monitors, radiator valves and light bulbs that we would struggle to make on our own.

After some thought we decided that we would support all these different brands through the use of “middle layers” in our code. We will set strict rules on the types of item that our system supports but not the types of sensors. For example, a user who wishes to add an door to the system must use a door that has methods for opening, closing and getting its position, but it can do so in any way that it needs to provided that there is a middle layer to communicate with it. We want to be able to update these middle layers with ease as we support more throughout the life of the project.

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