Today as part of our ongoing series on home automation we discuss Life|ware. Life|ware™ is software developed by Exceptional Innovation that allows you to seamlessly merge control of your home along with your world of digital entertainment.
By integrating Life|ware into Microsoft Windows Media Center, you can build and manage your music collection, enjoy slideshows of your digital photos, schedule and record your favorite television programs, enjoy your home videos and watch DVDs. Life|ware has options to control a Kaleidscape system, VUDU, TiVo, or DirecTV? Life|ware controls all these and more from a single remote.
You also can control your home’s lighting system, thermostats and security systems, distribute music throughout the house, create custom macros and share media across your entire network.
Life|ware lets you control your home through your TV with a Media Center PC, Media Center Extender or Xbox 360™, from your home or office PC or notebook, or from a Life|point touch screen. You can even use your iPhone or iPod Touch and iPad as a Life|ware client with full two-way functionality.
One of the biggest draws to Life|ware is that it works with numerous third party devices. Life|Ware provides bridges to lighting, HVAC, Media and more. The system will go from IP to IR, RF, or RS-232. Life|ware is OS agnostic as well. The control software will run on Windows, Mac OS, and LINUX machines. But if you don’t want to mess with loading the software on your own equipment Life|Ware sells a complete line of home automation controllers, servers, and bridges.
Life|Controller – The Life|Controller is a computer with embedded version of Windows XP. This Life|Controller comes with 8 RS-232 ports for support of third party hardware and is available in a rack mount or desktop version. The Life|Controller is the brains behind your home automation system
Life|Link – converts a home automation controller’s programming interface (such as a security system) or a device (such as a light or audio switcher) into a Web Services device and implements it via Ethernet connection to a network.
Life|Media – If you go the Life|Ware route you have an option to use their Media Server called the Life|Media. Essentially its a Windows 7 box that is designed for AV use. The unit comes with a DVD drive, ATSC tuner, CableCard Slot, and Dolby Digital Decoding.
Life|Vision – A distribution solution for digital and analog television, Life|vision™ offers instant access to television entertainment anywhere in the home via Life|point® touch panels. Surf up to four channels simultaneously just by tapping on the stream that grabs your interest.
Life|ware installs are easy for the Integrator, according to Michael McNamee of Secure Edge Networks, a Life|Ware Integrator, because its easy to create templates and do cookie cutter installs. Michael explained that other automation solutions require complicated programming even when the rooms are very similar. According to McNamee, technically savvy consumers can do their own installations but from what we can tell, if you don’t understand basic programming its probably something that’s better left to a professional.
Pricing will vary but for a typical home, say 2500 square feet you can count on equipment costs of $10K if you use Life|Ware servers and controllers. Cut it in half if you use your own gear. You still will need to buy light switches, thermostats, bridges, etc. Programming will run you about $3000 in addition to the gear.
For that $8K to $13K you will have a completely automated home that will be the envy of your friends. While Life|Ware costs more than Insteon it provides a bit more polish and does it for less than higher end systems out there.
Posted by The HT Guys, July 15, 2010 10:57 PM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.