Technology works its way into more of your home
When venerable networking giant Cisco Systems
recently agreed to buy cable box maker Scientific-Atlanta
for nearly $7 billion, most industry observers were not surprised. After all, entertainment has become much more dependent on technology over the years.
Such an acquisition allows Cisco to place more products in households, and not just for entertainment.
Imagine a single device that allows you to watch, record, and buy TV shows, surf the Internet, and make phone calls.
Furthermore, what if this device could also control your alarm system? What if you could log into this device over the Internet and tell it to cool down the house, make coffee, and feed the dog? Pretty neat, huh?
Such scenarios are not too far-fetched, and Cisco is positioned to provide such features.
Even without the Cisco deal, we've been progressing towards higher-tech homes.
According to the Internet Home Alliance (www.internethomealliance.com), last year, 61 percent of new single family homes were equipped with structured wiring (to support all these great electronic gadgets), 59 percent had high-speed Internet access, 28 percent had monitored security systems, 8 percent had home theater systems, and 5 percent had energy management systems.
On the entertainment front, Microsoft's Windows Media Center has been on the market for some time now -- long enough for most of the bugs to be ironed out. Media Center is basically a souped-up PC that controls your entertainment experience.
Media Center PCs come pre-loaded with the necessary software, or you can have them custom built locally. Check out Microsoft's Web site, at www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/howtobuy/ for a listing of authorized local PC builders in Hawaii, as well as how to buy a Media Center PC online.
Media Center allows you to pause and rewind live TV or radio, watch DVDs and videos, listen to CDs or other forms of digital music, burn CDs or DVDs, and create movies using Windows Movie Maker. You can also install other Windows-compatible programs onto your Media Center PC.
From a surveillance and security perspective, webcams that allow you to remotely monitor your home from anywhere on the Internet have been around for years now. You can get anything from a cheap single-camera solution to a full blown, multi-camera system with recording capabilities.
Like anything else, you get what you pay for.
If you are considering building these features into a new home, or retrofitting your current pad, make sure you get a handle on costs first.
Complete high end solutions can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Of course, we expect such costs to come down over time.
is president of ISDI Technologies Inc., a Honolulu-based IT consultancy. Call him at 944-8742 or e-mail email@example.com