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Drupal as a Home Service Bus (beyond Home Automation)
If... If I would start my own company... But I won't. I do not have the skills, money, balls and most of all, I am rather happy with my current employer Dutch Open Projects. But if I would start my own company, the services would not be based upon Location Based Services, a carbon copy of free available software or "Social Networking two dot ooo". It would be based upon my hobby in combination with my "vision"
Combining these elements will give you nice opportunities. For example your iPhone could be your remote control for your telly:
But you could also use your iPhone as a device to watch television on; recorded streaming television based upon your preferences towards your telehone!
And these are just two simple examples; it could be expanded to controlling and integrating the Squeezebox (cheesy: WiFi to your HiFi) I own and towards all the other electric equipment in my house with X.10 (cheesy: control your house from your mouse) like Mr House does. But you will directly see two problems; all these devices and software packages act like they are the master:
In fact, most of the user interfaces these devices provide are really really bad, if you think Drupal pre4 sucked usability wise, try a MythTV distro from one year a go or even the current version of MrHouse! Now the time might not be right for my "business plan". I know that in the USA the concept of Tivo is rather normal for early adapters but here in the EU harddisk based PVR's are just catching on. It will take some time before the public sees and needs that these devices should be integrated .And by that time I am sure that our friends from RedMond have a very nice "solution" for you; "Vista Home Automation # 1984".
By not combining, not integrating, they do not give the user the option to co-related information about their house. For example, if my central system that my family would not be in the house since there are no blue-tooth telephones detected at 2:00h in the morning while the camera sensors motion, I would like to be paged, see the camera images from my iPhone and when I will not react within a certain amount of time, the system should dial out to the police. Okay, bad example, I do not want that since most likely I forgot my phone or the battery is dead and I am in the kitchen to make some milk for my son to get him to sleep. But you get the idea; a centralised place where information is gathered from multiple sources, co-related and with work-flow, action upon this information.
And by not combining, not integrating, they do not provide the user with a good user interface that is consistent and adapts (context aware) towards the client (text messaging, instant messaging, telephone, full browser etc). A key factor forsuccess beyond the usual geeks.
I would like to be able to solve these two problems, make a central place that talks to all devices and can be "smart" and provide the user with the best UI (s)he can get. Now before you state that there is such a product, I am aware of pluto. Pluto combines music (squeezeboxes), television (MythTV), voice (asterisk) and much more into a central box. See for more information their (nasal!) presentation. But they do not combine it in what I would call a "central smart box". That and the fact that they can use some competition :-)
A central smart box would be able to adapt fast, if there would be an API for a grocery shop, it will be in the software in the box within days, weeks. It would know my spending habits and my income and would swap money to places where it would get the most interest, it would read my RSS feeds and based upon time and location "read" them to me, it would know my agenda and the availability of my friends and it would do so much more that I can think of right now.
And by now, you should see why I would like to add my other hobby; Drupal. I think that a central system that acts upon actions and can do more then that could be a Content management Framework like Drupal. I know that PHP by nature would not be very good for acting as a real time broker between information, but I still would go for a Drupal solution instead of J2EE. Drupal is easier, it adapts way faster, can integrate, has a geeky loving community that probably has some of the devices I mentioned, can look beautiful, has a very small footprint and can be context aware.
I would like coin the phrase
So, if I would start my own company it would be based on building this. But since I will not, you a free to make it. And -lazy as I am- I will buy it from you!