What is Home Automation?
It is a field within building automation, specializing in the specific automation requirements of private homes and in the application of automation techniques for the comfort and security of its residents. Although many techniques used in building automation (such as light and climate control, control of doors and window shutters, security and surveillance systems, etc.) are also used in home automation, additional functions in home automation include the control of multi-media home entertainment systems, automatic plant watering and pet feeding, and automatic scenes for dinners and parties.
The main difference between building automation and home automation is, however, the human interface. In home automation, ergonomics is of particular importance: the control should be largely image-based and self-explanatory.
When home automation is installed during construction of a new home, usually control wires are added before the drywall is installed. These control wires run to a controller, which will then control the enviroment.
In a retrofit situation, or when installing control wiring is too expensive or simply not possible, there are wireless and powerline protocols such as X10, UPB, Insteon and Z-Wave that will allow for control of most applications.
In extreme installations, rooms can sense not only the presence of a person but know who that person is and perhaps set appropriate lighting, temperature and music/TV taking into account day of week, time of day and other factors.