Alloys International has built its own digital smart home system in an attempt to establish a footing in the lucrative home theatre and automation market.
The distributor's MediaHub can integrate a high definition DVD player, recorder and LCD screen along with optional features such as Web cams, projectors and Microsoft's Media Center operating system. The whole solution is based on IP and remotely operated from a central PC controller box.
Product manager, Phil Gibbs, said the Alloys-branded MediaHub addressed the four smart home principles: high- definition entertainment, home automation, integrated functionality and communications. For example, users were able to control both security and lighting from the same system they used to record television programs.
"The computer whitebox market in the home is dead," he said. "Consumers now want the total lifestyle experience of the smart home."
The availability of ultra high-definition television would be a major catalyst for digital home systems, Gibbs said.
While there were wired home automation solutions available from traditional players such as Clipsal and Dynalight, Gibbs said the new MediaHub would allow users to have a completely integrated and automated home at the same price point using a broadband connection.
He estimated the system could be installed into an existing three or four bedroom house for between $15,000 and $25,000.
"You can't just use Media Center because it's only an entertainment centre," he said. "No one vendor has the products to do this."
Gibbs said Alloys was now establishing a training regime for its reseller and systems integration partners on how to implement MediaHub.
It has also set up a fully automated home display in its Melbourne showroom.
The distributor hopes to get MediaHub into the market during the next three to six months.
A marketing campaign was also being developed, he said.
Gibbs claimed there was still widespread confusion in the industry about exactly what the digital home market was addressing.
Microsoft's Media Center Edition was a start, but there was a lot more to developing a smart home, Gibbs said.
There was also the issue of reliability, he said.
"The computer industry has networked everything today," he said. "Now it wants to network the same technologies into smart homes. The hardware is there, but they have been missing the applications."
Gibbs claimed the IT industry was heading inevitably into the digital home space.
"It is like a black hole - every time Intel doubles the power of its processors, it sucks in another industry," he said. "Traditional home automation is now rolling straight in."