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I have been passed a project by a city council to look into the possibilites around home / device automation and communication systems for the elderly / disabled, etc. and cannot shake the idea that LinuxMCE needs exploring here. If this has already been done, then please point me to the correct thread.

The project is pretty broad and includes device / home automation for those with limited movement (X10 stuff) and also communications / media delivery. I have been given a small residential flat and a budget to kit out said flat and showcase the benefits of modern technology as applied to common problems faced by people with restricted movement, memory problems, etc. This will be presented to the City Council and various Healthcare providers (technical Luddites), so there is scope for some real opportunities here.

Just wondered if anyone here would have any ideas or recommendations that they would be willing to share?

The reason I am being so vague is because, although familiar with Nix (been running Red Hat servers for years), device control is a new field to me. About 3 years ago I came across the LinuxMCE demo video and was utterly blown away. I wanted to test it out, but had no compatible devices (or at least could not get the devices I had to work with it). Moreover, the video seems more aimed toward media than home automation, though I can see massive potential in this latter field.

There are two broad aspects to this project: automatiing devices and social isolation. For the former, I am looking into X10 devices / Marmitek controller and an HCF for security / monitoring. For the latter I am still in the thinking stage and I have a feeling that MCE could offer something solid here. This challenge really centres around old / disabled / immobile people, technophobes who don't want "a computer" in their house, but do like the idea of being able to video conference / social network with their kids, grandkids, etc. They are interested in things like Skype, but need a really user friendly interface that integrates seamlessly into their environment - preferably something controllable via a device that they are already familiar with (i.e. TV remote) and presented via the TV. It would be possible to bolt a small form factor PC to the back of their TV, thus getting the computer in the door without them objecting, but the front end to MCE is WAYYYYYY too complex for a newbie technophobe.

iPads are the obvious solution, but I can't stand them, they are expensive and too limited.

Would anyone be willing to discuss this? Anyone got any ideas?

You may want to consider Z-wave or one of the other newer technologies vs X10, X10 is subject to line noise and can be flakey at time in addition X10 devices generally do not report their state.
LinuxMce may be overkill, difficult to support, and there is the whole licensing issue. If you want a full blown media system you  may want to talk to Andrew at CHT,  Another option may be the Router based Mi-casa verde.
There are other systems out there as well, that may be worth exploring.

Feel free to PM me to discuss or ask your questions here.



I second TK's suggestion on both Z-wave and a Micasaverde Vera. The Vera can handle some basic home monitoring/surveillance, and may even also integrate with some security systems. Z-wave alert beacons are available (panic button type units producing a shrill alarm sound and flashing lights). Android and iOS apps are available (free & paid). I recommend Home Buddy for Android for use with a Vera.  A Chrome book/box or Android tablet should be able to provide simple communications (Google Talk/Voice & email). An internet enabled TV may be enough multimedia for the grey-hair contingent.

LinuxMCE is definitely overkill. Elderly people would have enough trouble with a tablet or computer... or even a DVD player, let alone something like LinuxMCE.  They'd be breaking it left and right.

Didn't realise that X10 was flakey - I'd assumed that since it had been in the marketplace for some years, it would have been made reliable. Boo. Will look deeper into Z-wave, thanks.

Hear what you're both saying about MCE being overkill, I'd suspected as much. I suppose what really caught my eye was the security functions as I could see how this might fit well into some kind of patient monitoring system. As far as the media system goes, I am trying to devise a way to introduce old (lonely) folk to social media in a non-scarey way. The best idea that I can think of is, as you say, some kind of tablet-based system with simple shortcuts on it - a customisable (and cheap) iPad. Ideally this will integrate with the TV, acting as a remote for it, if that makes any sense.

I guess what I need here is a custom lite nix distro, something simple, customisable and reliable to deliver a very clean and simple GUI.

Going to have a look at the devices you guys have suggested, thanks.

If you want cheap, it ain't gonna be iPad,... It'll have to be an Android tablet,... Models from under $100 to over $500 are readily available. But you get what you pay for. Trust me on that one (2 cheap $200 tablets broke before I got my $450 Acer Iconia A500).

XBMC can be set up as a multimedia player (TV & recording as an afterthought only).

Stand alone MythTV installations can provide plenty of media functions with some nice plugins available. There's a way to control MythTV from an Android tablet ( ).

And like I said, Home Buddy is great for using with the MCV Vera (you can create scenes on the Vera and activate them with a single icon touch). Crazy simple.


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