An OS for the home and cool Kickstarter projects

An OS for the home and cool Kickstarter projects

This week we start with something that has both intrigued and amused me: Microsoft Research has a new operating system in the works targeted at home automation called, with glaring dullness, HomeOS.

Microsoft says, "To simplify the management of technology and to simplify the development of applications in the home, we are developing an 'operating system' for the home. HomeOS provides a centralized, holistic control of devices in the home. It provides to users intuitive controls to manage their devices. It provided to developers high-level abstractions to orchestrate the devices in the home. HomeOS is coupled with a HomeStore through which users can easily add/obtain applications that are compatible with devices in their homes and obtain any additional devices that are needed to enable desired applications."

BACKGROUND: Microsoft's automated Future Home: What can go wrong?

What intrigued me about this project is Microsoft is surprisingly late to the market -- a market that, despite years of hype, has yet to really take off. Perhaps Microsoft thinks it can give it a push start.

But I am also amused by the name. Running the operating system name past various friends, they either pronounced it "ho-me-oss" or, worse still, "ho-moes" neither of which, I suspect, is what Microsoft would like.

So, I have two Kickstarter projects that I think you should look into. The first is the HAND Stylus, which looks like it will be the capacitative stylus I've wanted since I first got an iPad. The problem with the current styli I've tried, is they feel more like using a banana than a pen. Styli such as the TenOne Pogo Sketch Plus ($15) are OK for some purposes (painting apps and simple graphics), but they feel nothing like a regular pen on regular paper.

With a 4mm tip (roughly 30% smaller than any other stylus I've tried) the HAND Stylus promises to be a vast improvement over other designs. The HAND Stylus also looks great, rather like my favorite mechanical pencils made by Rotring (I studied architecture back in, oh, the Pleistocene era, and Rotring was the Rolls-Royce of drafting pencils).

VISUAL TOUR: 9 interesting tech projects from Kickstarter

As with other Kickstarter startups, you can support this project for as little as $1. Actually, even if you don't personally get involved, the HAND Stylus project will happen because, as of this writing, over 1,800 backers have committed more than $74,000 ($25,000 was the original goal) and there's still more than 30 days until the project's funding date of June 17. Can you say "pent-up demand"?

The other Kickstarter project of note is Wovyn, started by my old friend Scott Lemon (who I've known since our Novell days 25 years ago!). This project is actually related, potentially, to Microsoft's HomeOS, in that it enables the connection of the real world with the online world.

Wovyn is an "Internet of Things" concept and consists of a gateway device that communicates wirelessly with a large range of sensor types (30 different types are either ready or in development, including sensors for temperature, humidity, magnetic, light and acceleration). The gateways communicate with networks either over Wi-Fi or via a Windows, Linux or Mac computer using a USB connection.

The idea is that you'll be able to "scatter wireless sensors all over your home or business ... or even outdoors." The project suggests, "If you want to know if your freezer door is open OR your basement is flooding OR if your front door just opened, that's THREE SEPARATE SENSORS - Wovyn allows you to do all that for under $200!"

What can be done with the sensor data? The project explains, "we let you create rules of what you want Wovyn to do when it senses different things. Sure, we can do Email, SMS, Twitter and Facebook, but we also allow you to connect to several of the top Internet data services like Pachube (now Cosm),, ThingSpeak, and Kynetx with a few clicks on our portal! Simple! ... and this is where it really gets good ... we provide full support for REST/WebHooks, EventedAPI, and MQTT so that you can point Wovyn and your sensor data at your own software ... or at software that we haven't even thought of yet!"

Wovyn's Kickstarter fund raising ends June 24 and so far 45 backers have pledged almost $8,800 toward the goal of $100,000 with just under 40 days to go. This project looks really promising and I'm hoping folks with far deeper pockets than mine get involved and get Wovyn completely funded.

Gibbs keeps his ear to the ground in Ventura, Calif. Tell him what you hear at and follow him on Twitter (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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