A first at Dev8D: open source iPhone app for home automation

Ever wanted been away from home and wanted to check that the heating was off, or the lights switched on? Or wished you could switch on the kettle from the warmth of your bed when the morning alarm goes? All these things have been possible for a while now – but at a price. Now, with the software to automate home products becoming open source, the field has opened up for all kinds of innovative – and low cost – applications to make life easier, safer or just plain cosier.

Here at Dev8D, after attending just one iPhone development workshop, David Tarrant has created an  iPhone app, based on open source software, to control a light using your phone, wherever you are in the world. He explains how.

David Tarrant’s iPhone app

“The Z-Wave protocol for home automation products has only just become open source after being closed for a number of years. It has sparked an online community outside of academia with quite a few UK and US developers developing an open source library to talk to Z-Wave products.

We have created a Windows, Linux and OSX version of the library where before there had only been a Windows one. That library was finished on Sunday night, and I built a simple REST api for this library so that I can switch a device on and off, such as a light. Yesterday I could do it through a web browser and, thanks to the iPhone workshop, I’ve now created an iPhone app to control it.

This is a simple example of home automation, just like the products that are already available to do things such as control heating, turn on and off appliances and monitor your house. It is even possible to set up profiles for rooms so that you can put a room into different modes and use a combination of devices within it, all controlled by just one switch.

The difference now is that you can do all this without having to buy expensive, locked-down proprietory software or hardware controllers. The library is available under an LGPL licence. The kind of automation I’ve done here would previously have cost £400-£600 to buy – I’ve done this for about £120 and we expect the cost to come down as more open source developers get on board and have a go and want to buy more of the products.”

4 thoughts on “A first at Dev8D: open source iPhone app for home automation

  1. Dave Tarrant

    You are correct, not a world first, but the first using an open source back end. Also my first application, just a bit of an interpretation error there.

  2. Richard Melville

    Here is another “interpretation error”: the Z-Wave protocol is *not* open source it is still proprietary; although the good work of OpenZWave in creating an open source library should be applauded. Furthermore, another problem with Zwave is that its radios are *not* multi-vendor. This means that if Zensys goes bankrupt (and it was this fear that is believed to have triggered the recent buy-out by Sigma) then people would be left with nothing.

    A much better bet is One-Net which is a truly open source project. Admittedly, it does not have all the functionality of Z-Wave but it is definately one to watch; it is also much faster.

    Richard

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