The information furnace: consolidated home control
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The Information Furnace is a basement-installed PC-type device that integrates existing consumer home-control, infotainment, security and communication technologies to transparently provide accessible and value-added services. A modern home contains a large number of sophisticated devices and technologies. Access to these devices is currently provided through a wide variety of disparate interfaces. As a result, end users face a bewildering array of confusing user-interfaces, access modes and price structures. In addition, as most devices function in isolation, important opportunities to exploit synergies between their functionalities are lost. The information furnace distributes data, provides services, and controls an apartment's digital devices. Emphasis is placed on accessibility and on exploiting the synergies that inevitably come up when these technologies and services are housed under a single roof. The prototype implementation I outline integrates on a FreeBSD server the distribution of MP3-encoded music to DNARD/NetBSD thin clients, an answering machine, a burglar alarm, an Internet router, a fax server, a backup server, and intelligent control of a PBX.
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