If you’re like me you’re looking to make things a bit easier at home but at the same time make utility costs lower while not breaking the bank to do it. Enter the Belkin WeMo into the home automation arena. The WeMo Switch ($50) provides the ability to activate lights or any electronic device to turn on or off on a schedule it provides what we immediately expect from a simple device. But the Belkin WeMo goes further. It has the capability of motion sensing, WeMo Switch + Motion ($100), which will activate desired devices and lights as a family member enters a room and transitions through the others (with multiple WeMos). Obviously this is most immediately applicable to lighting applications or even area fans to cool down a house but you could use it to kill off vampire power devices (the power plugs and other items that simply consume power when not in use yet plugged in).
If you don’t desire to place these items on a set schedule you can have full control over them via the iOS application which allows you to remotely turn WeMo’d devices on or off from your iPhone or iPad. This network ability then provides some additional features with IFTTT (If This Then That). This allows for notification via email when the motion sensing capability of WeMo is activated with something like a front door light or even the IFTTT Weather Channel interaction to determine sunset/sunrise and the activation of WeMo’d lights.
From this Cyber Fellows perspective this is an excellent step toward the internet of things. What I’d like to see WeMo integrated with Belkin’s Conserve devices to provide power analytics. This would then allow for an automation and control function on top of the power analytics (Air Conditioning just turned on when no one is home). I’m surprised I didn’t see this at CES even though it was there; what I did notice is the numerous devices and companies that are getting into home device automation so Belkin will need to be innovative to stay ahead of the pack in this area.
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This month Apple announced iBooks 2 and the ability to develop very rich content text books. One thing that was quietly announced was the iTunesU application for the iPad. While iTunesU has been around for a while the iTunes application makes it easier to find, obtain, and utilize courses and education that Universities make available.
One of the things I try and stress to those trying to learn new things or are looking to become more marketable is to learn how to program. Now when Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) out of the top Computer Science school (on the Planet) releases courses free I recommend you take notice. If you were to take this in residence it would cost you no less than $5,000. Not sure about you but I don’t have that pocket money readily available. But this course has the ability to ensure you can develop and create very impressive applications on the top Phone and Table operating system. I’ve had the chance to sit in on the class and can tell you that you’re getting the same great content while being able to learn independently of any required schedule. The goals of the instructor for the course are:
- a basic background in visualization;
- understanding of the cognitive processes involved in transforming visual representations into mental representations, insight and discovery; and
- instruction on implementing these techniques in real applications for the iPad.
So in this era of reductions in budgets and soon enough education dollars take the time to maximize your value by spending some time with Carnegie Mellon University and their iTunesU offerings.