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Wireless Home Networking For Dummies - Danny Briere.pdf
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326 Part V: The Part of Tens

because many of these products already exist. Expect in the upcoming years that they will infiltrate your home. Like the Borg say on Star Trek, “Prepare to be assimilated.”

Your Bath

Yup, wireless toys are everywhere now, having traversed their way into the innermost sanctuary of your home: the bathroom. Not too many homes are wired for computer and video in the bathroom, and wireless may be the only way to get signals — like a phone — to some of these places. We’ve seen wire- less-enabled toilets (don’t ask) and all sorts of wireless controls for lighting in the bathroom to create just the right atmosphere for that bath. It’s the wireless enablement of the bathtub itself that gets us excited. Luxury bathing combined with a home entertainment bathing center into one outfitted bathroom set is probably the ultimate for a wireless enthusiast.

Jacuzzi (www.jacuzzi.com) is the leader in this foray. Jacuzzi sells the only wireless waterproof remote control that we’ve seen, but it’s what comes with the remote control that gets us. Jacuzzi’s J-Allure shower comes standard with a built-in stereo/CD system, complete with four speakers. A digital control panel offers easy access to the whirlpool operation, underwater lighting, and temperature read-out. Talk about wired. The unit is also available with an optional television/VCR monitor. Cable ready, this feature allows you to enjoy the morning news or your favorite movie. The multi-channel, 9-inch unit is waterproof and includes a remote control. You can adapt the monitor for DVD or WebTV. All these features for a mere $12,500 retail price. The problem is that most homes aren’t wired for audio or video in their bathroom. That’s where your home wireless network comes into play. You can use the same wireless A/V extension devices used to link your PC and your stereo system to reach into the bathroom and bring your J-Allure online.

Jacuzzi’s Vizion goes even further — it offers a whirlpool bath that boasts a state-of-the-art entertainment center for a mere $18,000 (not including installation). And for total indulgence, try a home theater in a tub. The La Scala model showcases a 42-inch, high-definition plasma monitor as well as a Surround sound system so powerful that it can make even the most subtle nuances spring to life. Price: black or white — $29,000; platinum — $31,000. But you’ll need your wireless home network to get the signals there!

Your Car

Your car will also join the wireless revolution and in some neat ways. In Chapter 15, we discuss how cars are sporting Bluetooth interfaces to enable devices to interact with the car’s entertainment and communications systems.

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And in Chapter 14, we discuss the range of aftermarket devices that you can buy now that will provide 802.11-based connectivity between your home’s wireless LAN and your car, whenever it’s in range. (We guess that makes your garage a really big docking station!)

Because most cars already have a massive computing and entertainment infrastructure, reaching out and linking that to both the Internet and your wireless home network is simply a no-brainer.

A wireless connection in the car enables you to talk to your car via your wireless network. Now, before you accuse us of having gone loony for talking to our car, think about whether your lights are still on? Wouldn’t it be great to check on it from your 40th-floor apartment instead of heading all the way down to the parking garage? Just grab your 802.11b-enabled PDA, surf to your car’s own Web server, and check whether you left the lights on (again). Or perhaps you’re filling out a new insurance form and forgot to check the mileage on your car. Click over to the dashboard page and see what it says.

You can also, on request, check out its exact location based on Global Positioning System (GPS) readings. (GPS is a location-finding system that effectively can tell you where something is, based on its ability to triangulate signals from three or more satellites that orbit the Earth. GPS can usually spot its target within 10–100 meters of the actual location.) You can, again at your request, even allow your dealer to check your car’s service status via the Internet. You can also, say, switch on the lights or the auxiliary heating, call up numbers in the car telephone or addresses in the navigation system, unlock and lock the car — all from the wireless comfort of your couch (using some of those neat touchpanel remote controls that we talk about in Chapter 14). Just grab your wireless Web tablet, surf, and select. Pretty cool. The opportunities of being able to wirelessly connect to your automobile are truly endless.

Look for the following near-term applications for wirelessly linking your car to your home:

Vehicle monitoring systems: These devices — usually mounted under a seat, under the hood, or in the trunk — monitor the speed, acceleration, deceleration, and various other driving and engine performance variables so that you can determine whether your kids are racing down the street after they nicely drive out of your driveway. When you drive into your driveway, the information is automatically uploaded to your PC over your wireless home network.

Devices like the Davis Instruments Corp. DriveRight (www.davisnet.com, $139) will likely be using 802.11b. Some of the pricier business products on the market, such as Road Safety International’s SafeForce, already link to a base station computer using technologies such as 900 MHz spreadspectrum, RF data transceiver. Going 802.11b simply makes sense.

328 Part V: The Part of Tens

E-commerce: You hear a great new song on your radio. Maybe you didn’t catch the artist or song title. You push the Buy button on your audio system, which initiates a secure online transaction, and a legal copy of the song is purchased and downloaded to the car at the next wireless hot spot that your car senses. From now on, you can listen to the song over and over again, just like you would with a CD. When you get home, you can upload it to your home’s audio system.

Remote control: Use remote controls for your car to automatically open minivan doors or turn on the lights before you get in. And a remote car starter is a treat for anyone who lives in very hot or cold weather (get that heater going before you leave your home). Fancier remote controls, like the AutoCommand Deluxe Remote Starter with Keyless Entry & Alarm from DesignTech International (www.designtech-intl.com, $200) have a built-in car finder capability as well as a remote headlight control. AutoCommand can be programmed to automatically start your vehicle at the same time the next day, at low temperature, or at low battery voltage.

Okay, so these are not necessarily new and don’t require a wireless home network. Where it can start to involve that wireless home network backbone is to start linking these remote control systems to your home’s other systems so that this becomes part of your whole home experience. Imagine using that wireless connection to link to your home automation system, such as those we discuss in Chapter 14. So when you utter “Start the car,” the system will communicate with the car and get it into the right temperature setting — based on the present temperature outside (it gets its readings from its Oregon Systems wireless weather station (www.oregonscientific.com).

Your Exercise Gear

Parts of exercise regimens are becoming network aware, and wireless plays a part, too. One of the more interesting applications of the Internet to the world of exercise comes from Icon Fitness (iFIT; www.ifit.com), which links your exercise equipment, the Internet, live personal coaches, and a library of audio and video slide tours to make each day of exercising a brand-new adventure. (Try the 30-day trial, or pony up $9.95 per month for a year-long contract.) Your iFIT-enabled exercise equipment can be controlled (either automatically by a preset program or live by a trainer) remotely via an Internet connection. The idea is to provide an environment where you can enjoy working out, be challenged, track your results, and learn about nutritional planning.

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iFit.com can also remotely control more than 100 models of treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes, and incline trainers — from Icon’s NordicTrack, Pro-Form, Reebok, HealthRider, and Image divisions (www.iconfitness.com). Each of these has an Ethernet connection into which you can put a wireless adapter to link your gear to the Internet.

If you don’t like the audio and video programs, you can always get a live trainer, courtesy of Internet videoconferencing. For 45 minutes and $30, you see and hear the trainer — and the trainer sees and hears you. This is a great use of the wireless-enabled Web cameras that we talk about in Chapter 13.

Your Home Appliances

Most of the attempts to converge the Internet and home appliances have been prototypes and concept products — a few products are actually on the market, but we’d be less than honest if we said that the quantities being sold were anything but mass market yet.

LGE (www.lge.com) was the first in the world to introduce the Internet refrigerator — a Home Network product with Internet access capability — in June 2000 (see Figure 19-1). It soon introduced other Internet-based information appliance products in the washing machine, air conditioner, and microwave areas. The Internet refrigerator has a 15-inch detachable touchscreen that serves as a TV monitor, computer screen, stereo, and digital camera all in one. You can call your refrigerator from your cell phone, PDA, or any Internet-enabled device.

LGE also has an Internet air conditioner that allows you to download programs into the device so that you can have pre-programmed cooling times, just like with your heating system setbacks. Talk to your Digital Home Theater to preprogram something stored on your audio server to be playing when you get home. It’s all interrelated, sharing a network in common. Wireless plays a part by enabling these devices to talk to one another in the home.

Samsung’s (www.samsungelectronics.com) Digital Network Refrigerator is equipped with Internet access, a videophone, and a TV. In addition to storing food, consumers can send and receive e-mail, surf the Net, and watch a favorite DVD by using the refrigerator’s touchscreen control panel, which also serves as a detachable wireless enabled handheld computer. Pretty neat.

All of this is still pricey; you’ll spend $6,000 or more on an Internet refrigerator. But the future is one where most appliances have a network interface (and predominantly a wireless one) on board, and pricing will come down fast.