Hey Zuckerberg, We’ve Got You Covered on Home Automation

Sophia Smith

Sophia is an editor at Make:. When she’s not greasing editorial gears, she likes to run, ride, climb, and lift things, and make lo-tech goods like zines, desserts, and altered clothing. @sophiuhcamille

81 Articles

By Sophia Smith

Sophia is an editor at Make:. When she’s not greasing editorial gears, she likes to run, ride, climb, and lift things, and make lo-tech goods like zines, desserts, and altered clothing. @sophiuhcamille

81 Articles

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Mark Zuckerberg announced on Sunday that his personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple automated system for his home. “You can think of it like Jarvis in Iron Man,” he explains in his Facebook post.

Zuck mentions a variety of elements that he hopes to incorporate into his automated system: voice control, facial recognition, and VR data visualization. While Zuck’s Jarvis 2.0 will ideally control all aspects of his automated home and link different systems together, Zuckerberg will probably have to start with small building blocks such as a security system, lighting system, entertainment system, and so on.

We’ve built and shared lots of home automation projects over the years here at Make:. So if you’re like Zuckerberg and you’re ready to build your own Jarvis, you can get started with some of the projects below.

Command Your Appliances

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Before you have an all-encompassing Jarvis-like AI system, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with commanding some lesser ‘bots with your voice. Pair a Roomba with a Raspberry Pi and you’ve got a good beginner’s connected home project.

Let There Be Light

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This project uses PIR sensors to turn on a strip of LEDs when your motion is detected. These are great to install around your workshop, in your driveway, and other areas around the house where you might find yourself fumbling in the dark with your hands full. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you could experiment with hooking up PIR sensors to some of your built-in light fixtures.

Open the Garage Door with Your Smartphone

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House keys are so last century, and clunky single-purpose remote controls are just a waste of space. Wield the power of entry by connecting a Particle Core to the Blynk app. Now you can open your garage door with a few taps on your smartphone.

Bonus: What’s the fun of having an Apple Watch if you can’t connect it to your house? Once you’ve connected your garage door to your smartphone, take the next step and use your Apple Watch to unlock other doors around the house.

Build a Facial Recognition System

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Zuckerberg wants to build a facial recognition system that will unlock the front door for friendly faces that show up on his porch. You can easily build a DIY facial recognition system with Intel Edison and OpenCV. Then (perhaps incorporating some of your newfound know-how from the door unlocking project above) you could use this system as the input for automagically unlocking and opening your front door.

Automated Home Entertainment

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This project was originally intended for a theater’s intermission lights and sound, but you can easily adapt it to dim the lights and start the show in your living room.

OpenCV Dirty Dish Detector

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While this project is specifically about using OpenCV to surveil your sink, you can adapt this into whatever type of surveillance tool suits you best. In Zuckerberg’s case, he might like to use OpenCV as the foundation for his 21st century baby monitor.

Geeky Gardening

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If you can’t be trusted to keep a regular watering schedule for your garden (or maybe you can, but you’d rather use that time for other projects), you can build an automated system with an Arduino and several sensors that monitor light, temperature, and moisture.

One Interface to Rule Them All

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Photo courtesy of Fluid Interface Group/MIT

Once you’ve built a few systems to automate different areas of your house, you may be brainstorming ways that they could be of further use to you… if only they could all talk to each other… through some type of augmented reality interface controllable via smartphone. Wouldn’t it be great if something like that existed? Well, it does. MIT’s Reality Editor allows you to link connected objects together and manipulate the ways that those objects control or interact with each other.