as for your USBUIRT problem, you need to attach a Xantech 286 double emitter to the back of the UIRT, affixing each end to the appropriate A/V gear. this will solve your current problem in that area.
As for home automation, there are a wide array of possibilities, and they all can be mixed and matched, providing that you have the proper interfaces for them attached somewhere in the house.http://www.smarthome.com/
is a wonderful place to get the vast majority of smart home pieces, I use this place 90% of the time.
With that said, Z-Wave is one of the discoverable interfaces supported. You may want to talk to hari, to see which devices are currently supported, I have one of the earlier interfaces (ZCU000), which I will upgrade to a newer interface once the new ZWave code is done.
INSTEON is another great option, it is in the latest checkins of the sqlcvs database, and provides wonderful options for north american users. INSTEON is also a good option if you have existing X-10 installations that need to be migrated because INSTEON can send commands to X-10 devices (however, since X-10 is primarily unidirectional, its usefulness is greatly limited.)
This implies that INSTEON and Z-Wave (with the new driver) is bi-directional. What does this mean? Basically, with bi-directional systems, if you flip a switch, or use a controller to change a light, then it will be noticed by the system and the floorplan will adjust accordingly.
Now, there is another great interface that most people don't have, but should, is the GC-100. This interface is also at SmartHome, and it may be off-putting initially at the price (starts at $299), but it provides a power house of automation features:
* two RS-232 ports which can be used for any serial controllable devices
* Infra-red control, like the USB UIRT
* anywhere from 3 to 6 sensor ports dealing with everything from infra-red, to temperature, to contact closure sensors, to even video signal sensors (which open when video signals are present)
* the bigger models have three relay closures, allowing you to control everything from sprinkler valves, to electric door strikes, anything that can be tripped by a relay.
and all of this, accessible from anywhere you can run an ethernet cable. Cool huh?
so, as you can see, the value of the device goes up, as more devices are controllable in a given area.
some examples for the GC-100:
* connect a sensor port to magnetic contacts attached to a door, to see if the door is open or closed
* connect a temperature port to a room, to get temperature readings you can read on the floorplan
* connect relay port to sprinkler or pool valve to control sprinklers or pool/hot tubs.
* connect the IRL dongle to RS232 port, to learn remote controls, then connect IR sensor to one of the sensor ports, to control AV devices like the UIRT.
* connect RS232 to an Aprilaire 8870 thermostat panel, to allow remote control of the Aprilaire 8870, even if it is not within reach of a core or media director.
* connect a smoke alarm with contact closures to a sensor port for fire alarm notifications
* connect an air quality alarm to a sensor port to get air quality notifications.
the list goes on and on...
No matter which combination you choose above, they are relatively simple to set up... instructions are in the wiki, and of course, we are on chat.