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ArialPhone Is Entering Home Automation Market

ArialPhone will introduce a new version of its ear-set communications device that will enable consumers to control various home entertainment and home automation functions with voice commands.

The ear set supports the X10 standard for home automation. Users can turn on and control lights, appliances, DVDs, televisions, projectors, and audio components, regardless of location in the home, with simple voice commands such as “turn on the family room lights” or “turn on the DVD player.” The range of the one-ounce ear set is 150 to 300 feet, with penetration through walls.

The complete ArialPhone system consists of the ear set, an X10 voice control software module, voice-dialing software, and a base station. The base station connects with the user’s existing PC via USB interface, and with a telephone system through a standard phone jack. The earset communicates with the base station through a 900MHz DSS frequency link. To control X10 devices, ArialPhone makes use of a CM11A Universal 2-way home automation interface, which plugs into a PC’s serial port. CM11A interfaces are available separately from X10 and SmartHome.

To operate ArialPhone, the user presses the earset’s action button to alert the ArialPhone base station to listen for voice commands, such as “turn on dining room light.” These commands then prompt the ArialPhone voice-control software to work through the X10 home automation interface to send signals over a home’s electrical wiring to any X10 device plugged into an outlet.

Beyond acting as a voice input device for home automation controls, the ear set also offers telephony capabilities, allowing the use of spoken commands to place telephone calls through a computer contact database, by saying a person’s name or phone number.

ArialPhone said it plans on introducing a full suite of home automation products in the coming year.

The company is laying the groundwork for this push with a number of agreements with vendors in the home automation market. Last September, for instance, the company announced a partnership with Lantronix, which acquired Premise Systems in January 2002.

The development partnership calls for ArialPhone to provide Lantronix with a software interface for the Premise SYS home automation software for voice control of various home theater and entertainment devices such as DVDs, televisions, projectors and audio components. The software will also add voice-control capabilities to other home-automation functions such as the control of lights and appliances.

Priced at $298, the specialized X10 version of ArialPhone designed for the home automation market is now available to dealers and home integrators. The pricing includes the complete system with base station, earset, X10 software interface, and voice-dialing software. The wireless microphone software is also included.

Existing ArialPhone customers can purchase the X10 voice control software separately for a $99 on the company’s Web site.