someone enters your home and trips the security alarm, the computer–which is attached to a set-top camera– could snap a picture of that person and send a digitized image to your computer at work and dial-up the police department. We can give the homeowner a virtual presence, no matter where he or she is, across town or around the world.”
The HAL (Home Automated Living) 2000 has a slightly different feature: state-of-the-art voice recognition software lets you activate nearly everything in your home by simply speaking normally into the telephone. You can dial up your computer from anywhere outside your house to control your heating and cooling and lighting systems. You may require adaptors that can be bought at hardware stores; appliance adaptors may cost a few dollars and those for thermostats may cost approximately $200. HAL also enables you to monitor home security; retrieve voice and e-mail messages; start your car remotely; and receive news, sports and stock market information via the Internet. If you’re not a do-it-your- selfer, you can pay a professional.
John Galante advises that one should take precautionary measures to make sure that the signals from the PC are not going out into a neighbor’s home. There are lowcost devices you can put on the power line, he says, including signal blockers and filtering couplers that can be bought at Radio Shack or other neighborhood electronics outlets. “Also, you will need proper surge protection and battery backup devices for natural conditions such as thunderstorms and tornadoes that can impair signal transmissions,” he notes.
All in all, the common theme among families like the Harrises and the efforts of industry gurus is the way that the computer is playing a growing and diversified role in the home. As the convergence of various leading-edge technologies continues, the PC will become the centerpiece in how we interact in the world.