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In recent years, the home environment has seen a rapid introduction of network enabled digital technology. This technology offers new and exciting opportunities to increase the connectivity of devices within the home for the purpose of home automation. Moreover, with the rapid expansion of the Internet, there is the added potential for the remote control and monitoring of such network enabled devices. However, the adoption of home automation systems has been slow. This paper identifies the reasons for this slow adoption and evaluates the potential of ZigBee for addressing these problems through the design and implementation of a flexible home automation architecture. A ZigBee based home automation system and Wi-Fi network are integrated through a common home gateway. The home gateway provides network interoperability, a simple and flexible user interface, and remote access to the system. A dedicated virtual home is implemented to cater for the system's security and safety needs. To demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed system, four devices, a light switch, radiator valve, safety sensor and ZigBee remote control have been developed and evaluated with the home automation system.
Date of Publication: May 2009