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

Figure 19-1:

LGE’s Internet Refrigerator is wirelessly enabled.

And with the developments in radio frequency identification (RFID) and other technologies, you might indeed get to the point where your kitchen monitors all of its appliances (and what’s in them — “We need more milk.”).

Your Musical Instruments

A wireless home backbone will enable fast access to online music scores, like from www.score-on-line.com. Musical instruments are also growing more complex and wireless.

With ConcertMaster from Baldwin Piano (www.baldwinpiano.com), your home wireless LAN can plug into your ConcertMaster-equipped Baldwin, Chickering, or Wurlitzer piano and play almost any musical piece that you can imagine. You can plan an entire evening of music, from any combination of sources, to play in any order — all via a wireless RF remote control.

The internal ConcertMaster Library comes preloaded with 20 hours of performances in five musical categories, or you can create up to 99 custom library categories to store your music. With up to 99 songs in each category, you can conceivably have nearly 50,000 songs onboard and ready to play. Use your

Chapter 19: More Than Ten Devices . . . 331

wireless access to your home’s Internet connection to download the latest operating system software from Baldwin’s servers, too. The system can accept any wireless MIDI interface. Encore!

You can record on this system, too. A one-touch Quick-Record button

lets you instantly save piano performances, such as your child’s piano recital. You can also use songs that you record and store on floppy disk with your PC to use within editing, sequencing, and score notation programs.

Your Pets

GPS-based tracking services can be used for pets, too! Just about everyone can identity with having lost their pet at some point. The GPS device’s form factor can be collar-based or a subdermal implant. This can serve as your pet’s electronic ID tag; it also can serve as the basis for real-time feedback to the pet or its owner, perhaps providing automatic notification if your dog goes out of the yard, for instance.

Check out www.homeagainid.com to find out about an Applied Digital-driven service for tracking your pet today. What makes this interesting is making the wireless connection more active than passive, adding 802.11 and GPS technologies so that there can be an ever-present signal to track your pet within the service area. Several companies are testing such capabilities so that soon, your LAN may indeed be part of a neighborhood wireless network infrastructure that provides a NAN — neighborhood area network — one of whose benefits is such continual tracking capability.

Your Phones

True, many phones in homes today are wireless. (And, of course, cell phones are, too.) But remember that your wireless home network uses the same 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz wireless frequencies that your cordless phones do. And when you factor in that your neighbor’s phones and a bunch of other devices in home are also on these frequencies, the throughput and usability of your wireless home networking system can get watered down pretty fast.

Enter your whole home 802.11 network. It makes sense to migrate your cordless phones, for instance, to your home wireless network so that your wireless phones won’t compete and interfere with your home wireless network; instead, you can get 802.11-based phones that ride over the same network in a very seamless way. (Chapter 2 has all the details about the 802.11 protocol.)

332 Part V: The Part of Tens

To do this, you will need to get an 802.11-enabled phone, which would work exactly like a cordless phone. In fact, you scarcely could tell the difference between the two. There are only a few such phones available today, and they are fairly pricey, but soon, you’ll probably see a lot more home telephone products that support 802.11. You might also see 802.11 technology bundled inside your cell phone as well, although the early moves with cellular have focused on Bluetooth enablement, which we talk about in Chapter 15.

You can find 802.11b-based business phones today from Symbol Technologies (www.symbol.com) or SpectraLink (www.spectralink.com), but these are more business class products and require business telephone gear and VoIP (Voice over IP) gateways to work. We estimate that it will be a few years before these get to the price points that you’d pick one up at RadioShack or CompUSA. Expect to see your cell phone sporting an 802.11b/VoIP capability sometime in the next few years, too.

You can still use your wireless network and broadband connection to make low-cost phone calls. With a Cisco (www.cisco.com) ATA-186, which is a twoport analog telephone adapter that turns traditional analog phones into IP phones, you can place calls to any of a number of VoIP telephone companies (like www.vonage.com) that will carry your calls to their destination for low rates (less than the traditional long distance carrier rates for sure). Unlimited calling services like Vonage (www.vonage.com) take your normal ordinary phones and connect them to a special device, like the Cisco ATA-186, that allows you to place phone calls over IP networks, like your home wireless LAN and the Internet.

Just plug your cordless phone into the Cisco adapter and call away. You can also make calls over your laptop with software from companies like Net2Phone (www.net2phone.com); Net2Phone also has a strong line-up of hardware for VoIP calling.

Although the ATA-186 is not wireless itself yet, we expect it (or a similar model) to be so shortly. In the meantime, if you need to, you can get your ATA-186 onto your wireless network with a wireless bridge, such as the D-Link DWL-810+ (www.d-link.com), which we use with gaming devices in Chapter 12.

Your Robots

Current technology dictates that robots are reliant on special algorithms and hidden technologies to help them navigate. For instance, the $199 Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner from iRobot (www.irobot.com) relies on internal programming and virtual walls to contain its coverage area. The $499

Chapter 19: More Than Ten Devices . . . 333

Friendly Machines Robomow (www.friendlymachines.com) robotic lawnmower relies on hidden wiring under the ground.

As your home becomes more wireless, devices can start to triangulate their position based on home-based homing beacons, of sorts, that help them sense their position at any time. The presence of a wireless home network will drive new innovation into these devices. Most manufacturers are busy designing 802.11 into the next versions of their products.

The following list highlights some other product ideas that manufacturers are working on now. We can’t yet offer price points or tell you when these products will hit the market, but expect them to come soon.

Robotic garbage taker-outers: Robotic firms are designing units that will take the trash out for you, on schedule, no matter what the weather. Simple as that.

Robotic mail collectors: A robotic mail collector will go get the mail for you. Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night, nor winds of change, nor a nation challenged will stay them from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. New wirelessly outfitted mailboxes will tell you (and the robots) when the mail has arrived.

Robotic snow blowers: Manufacturers are working to perfect robotic snow blowers that continually clear your driveway and sidewalks while snow falls.

Robotic golf ball retrievers: These bots retrieve golf balls. Initially being designed for driving range use, they are being modified for the home market.

Robotic guard dogs: Companies such as iRobot (www.irobot.com) sell CoWorkers, which are robots that can roam areas and send back audio and video feeds.

Robotic gutter cleaners: A range of spider-like robots are available that can maneuver on inclines, like a roof, and feature robotic sensors and arms that can clean areas.

Robotic cooks: Put the ingredients in, select a mode, and wait for your dinner to be cooked — better than a TV dinner for sure.

Robotic pooper-scoopers: The units that we’ve discovered roam your yard in search of something to clean up and then deposit the findings in a place that you determine.

You’re more likely to see humanoid robots at special events demonstrating stuff than in your kitchen cooking dinner. Products such as Honda’s ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, world.honda.com/ASIMO/) are remarkable for the basic things they can do, like shake hands and bow, but the taskmasters that we mention above are really going to help you with day- to-day chores.