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HomeRemote to kickstart home automation

Simple home automation technology that allows people to control various appliances around the house from a PC has been the dream of tech enthusiasts for many years. The trouble is, most of the services available have been perceived as too expensive and over-complicated. Hawking hopes to change that with a new HomeRemote system that's scheduled to become available in the UK this spring.

Hawking, best known for its range of wireless networking products, said the technology has the potential to revolutionise home automation with a simple setup procedure and an extremely competitive price.

The starter pack - which includes Hawking's HomeRemote Gateway - will be available for around £300 in the UK and various devices to control anything from the lights to the heating will launch from the likes of Philips this year. Automatic window shades, plug-in lighting modules and light switches - all communicating via the low-power Z-Wave wireless technology - are among the products on show at CES.

The HomeRemote Gateway is the portal between the web and the home that allows users to control various appliances and view live video from a Java-equipped mobile phone or an internet web browser. This could allow you to make sure you turned the iron off before you left the house in the morning, and switch on the heating just before you leave the office in the evening. Or you could see inside your home using your handset by connecting to the webcams placed strategically around the house.

The mobile phone interface looks impressive, and video quality was good in the demonstration we saw. As well as giving you alerts, the interface provides updates of activities in the home - providing details of when doors were opened and lights were switched on/off, for example.

Hawking plans to release the system in the spring, and PC Advisor will have a review unit in the next couple of months.

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