Yeap, I finally traveled back to Iran and yes it was fun. But, I was programming almost a third of my time. Yes, it may sound funny but I started a new hubby project. Everything started as I noticed that my mom and dad (one of the most passionate movie lovers I’ve ever known ) hadn’t seen a single movie at home since I had left Iran. Its even more shocking to know that they had lost all their family pictures as our housed was robbed a couple months ago (Its funny to know that was the most important thing lost, the thief actually left home almost empty handed with only an old tablet + two flash drives + a couple of fake jewelry :D) . However, I decide to start a new hubby project and fill these emptinesses of their life. And maybe even take it a couple of steps further into a real smart home system.
So I started looking at some projects out there. Most of them provided services for users to control their home appliances through their smart phones or tablets remotely. The question was, how I wanted to start it?
I knew even before looking at these projects they way I wanted to start my smart home project. No smart thing is interesting if it doesn’t bring the fun stuff with itself. This something I found to be true about all new fancy smart-named project like iPhone or Samsung smart TVs or etc. They all have fancy new games and streaming channels, learning abilities to ease up user’s experience and etc. Therefore, I found the following parameters to be essential for my new smart home project:
- Ease of use: Specially as my parents are none technical people I think this one is significantly important
- Seamless: It shouldn’t add any complexity to their life. It should be easy and have the minimum learning curve possible
- Fun Stuff: Fun features are always useful for motivating users to learn to interact with and use the system.
So I decided to create a central home system that does the following for new (And I think it was a pretty big task for the two weeks that I had in Iran specially with all the fun I had plan to have)
- Central Media Server: I needed to setup a central media server that would let them watch movies and review any kind of family media on any device at home or even outside home.
- Automatic Movie Download: Unfortunately watching movies online using services such as Netflix is almost impossible. We have 512kbps internet at home which is not so cheap either. Actually with almost the same price I have a 25mbps ADSL back in Pittsburgh. Hence, its a tedious task to download movies and as a result my parents never intend to do this.
- Connecting the TV to the Media Server: This should be done as seamless as possible to prevent confusion. Believe my dad will simply say forget it if he feels something is not worth his time.
- Remote File Server: I need to provide a local service similar to Box or DropBox that my parents can use to store their family pictures and videos. Something that is easy to use at our home network and it should be fast, therefore, it should be a local network service.
I also have a lot of fancy stuff at mind for future. But I think my smart home project should first start with these features. Its more important to think everything through carefully and provide adequate and easy enough UIs for the aforementioned services rather than providing more features but messy and confusing UIs. After all I want to make these easier for them.