Controlling Houses Electrical Devices Using Computers Computer Science Essay

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The world today needs to establish more and more systematic ways to simplify peoples lives. In order to achieve this we need to get usable ideas and ensure the benefits of those ideas to humans. As computer science enhancers it is our responsibility to think and work harder. For the current ideas and big projects which need to be improve and enhance. Also for the coming up ideas which needs' to be implement and/or test, we need to ensure strong and stable steps for reach to a better future.

One part of those challenges is to integrate modern devices together to perform new tasks or improve its' efficiently to have new functionalities. Most of people now a day are using mobile phones and other electrical devices for their day to day live. Mr. Samual from Association for Computing Machinery report said "more than 80% of the world population using mobile phone" Samuel Greengard (2008). This large number of people who are using mobile phone makes it is very important to think how to use mobile phones to perform different approaches more than using them just to call or to send messages.

There are a lot of job and researches done to solve different parts of this very large and important issue. This paper will suggest an easy to use and cost-effective solution for implementing and maintaining a complete communication system between the houses or offices electrical devices and smart mobile phones. Also to implement utility management database system which can be monitored via a smart phone Graphical User Interface (GUI) application.

There are different steps to achieve system structure connections between all different parts of the system. First step is to connect the entire electricity wire provider for each house device to the programmable switch. This way will centralise the connection, and then it will be easy to connect to one programmable switch instead of connecting each device separately. This way will be suitable to implement in classic house/wire connections and smart house/wireless connections and it will be low cost-effective because it will not use any other connection to control the devices and it will not disturb old classic connection ways. Also it will be easy to use because each device will be connected to the system programmable switch and to the normal manual switch parallel. Second step of the system is to connect the programmable switch to a PC (Personal Computer) using RS323 port. By this connection it will be able to control the devices through the programmable switch and collect data and store it safely to the system database for further maintenance. Last step is to connect the central computer to a smart mobile phone using card reader hardware which holds a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card. Then the smart phone application can communicate to the system easily.

The Graphical User Interface (GUI) application in the smart phone will be easy to use and it will have navigation screens. In order to activate/deactivate a specific device in the house first the user will click on the room name and then the system will display all the devices in the selected room. Then he/she can choose the aimed device and after he/she clicked on the device the system will show the current status of the device. Finally the user can change that status by one click on the device name.

Therefore, the project discussed here is to solve and simplify the critical management of controlling houses or companies devices. By using this technology the users will be able to control their devices activation/deactivation remotely and they will be able to know nearly all the important information about the budget used by their devices to take necessary actions like reducing the use of not required devices. Moreover, this idea can be used by electricity provider companies to manage the collection of the utility usage of any number of houses and give accurate report of the utility management to each house owner under their services without physically visiting and collecting that manually.

Dissertation Background

The importance of controlling house electrical devices using mobile phone or by smart phone as a remote control makes a lot of researcher thinks how to solve this problem. Mr. Fadhil T. Aula (2005) develop simple system using SMS (Short Message Service) which can be sent by mobile phone and then received by another mobile phone connected to a PC (Personal Computer) that can accept that message. Then a software programme should receive correct static message (key word like "pcshutdown", "lighton") to perform the task otherwise it will ignore the message. If the programme receives a correct message it then sent a signal to the interface hardware which switch activate/deactivate electrical devices. The problem in this way it is difficult to remember specific system key words. This problem can be solved by store any kind of key words in a system and then after user chose some action then the system will be responsible to send that key word without a need of remember or know what that key word by the end users.

A part from this there are also a lot of paper recently established like "Zombee: a Home Automation Prototype for Retrofitted Environments" (Dacian Tudor et al 2009). This system was smarter to solve the problem. The developers develop a complete smart houses system which can control all possible electrical devices in the house. Their system can control the devices by two ways by direct interactions with user smart phone and by sensor events controller. Even though this system is a complete smart houses system but it needs huge money to implement and maintain because every device should be suit to their system in order to be controlled automatically. The solution for this problem is to create hardware interface which can control the devices without the need of all electrical device should be from one company.

Mr. Jeffrey Nichols and Brad A. Myers (2006) got another solution of the problem. Their system was able to control all device functionality. They used the smart phone as remote control for the appliance. They were able to achieve that by downloading the abstract functionally from the aimed appliance and use that description to automatically generate an interface to control that appliance. This description will create an appliance adaptor automatically which can be used to connect to the appliance functionally like activate/deactivate it or increase/reduce the volume if applicable to that appliance. This is good idea but, it is having limitation in number of appliance can be controlled. Because of the difficulty of installing every appliance abstract which may have deferent functionalizes. This can be solved by using central system which can control all the devices.

Aims & Objectives

The aim of this project is to study and implement the integration of electrical devices and computers using mobile phone connection. Also it aims to implement a utility management solution and store it in a database system. For the first part of the system, there are a lot of researches spoke nearly about what this project aimed for, but the different approach here is to maintain the history of the main transactions occurs and captured them by the system to provide advance analysis of the system history. The second part aimed for managing the utility used by each electrical device in the house and then the system can calculate the how much it cost the user for that specific device or all devices in the house.

The idea will be in few words

The system will contain main programmable switch, central computer, SIM card reader and the smart mobile phone. These devices will perform the structure of the system live cycle. For example if the user wants to activate a light in the setting room. For this process life cycle the user will start it by using the smart phone application, which will establish a request message to the central computer through the SIM reader and that request will fire a function to send another signal to the switch and then the switch will enable the electricity power to activate the light. The system also will be having a capability to store all the devices status which can be used to inform the user about the current status of the devices.

The use of each device in the system

The use of the programmable switch which will attach directly to the power supply which will be connected to all devices in the house:

It will receive the signals sent by the central computer.

It will check for the current status of aimed device.

Activate/deactivate the aimed device.

It will send feedback signal to the central computer.

The central computer the intermediate controller in the centre of system life cycle:

Communicate to the programmable switch.

Holds the system application and the database.

Connect to a SIM card reader to enable the connection to the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) network.

The application in the central computer will:

Receive the massage signals requested by the user mobile phone application.

Analyse that signal and send back to the user proper report which be generated by the help of the system history database and the signals received by the programmable switch.

It will write all useful data to the database for further analysation.

Send/receive signals from the switch through RS323 port.

The SIM card reader:

It will be connected to the central computer.

It should have a valid SIM card which has credit in it.

The storage management of the system (database):

It will store the assigned device numbers for each electrical device.

It will store the current status of each device, which time that device status was changed for further analysis.

It will store the security information for the application. Like the valid GSM numbers and the user names and password to login to the system.

It will store utility usage of the electricity power for each device and full history of the durations of devices activation/deactivation.

The GUI application programme which will be installed in the user's smart mobile phone to allow them to manage their devices remotely.

It will talk to the central computer by using massage signals.

It will be a Graphical User Interface (GUI) application.

It will enable the user to choose a specific device to activate or deactivate it.

It will have the facility to show different reports.

The smart mobile phone itself which should accept the installation of the application.

It should have enough memory to store and run the application.

It will use the Global System for Mobile (GSM) network. So it will not be free of cost.

The user should use the application within GSM network area.

Figure 1

Intellectual challenge

Literature review challenge

Sense so many researches done for this kind of system; it is difficult to write about all of them or to find useful research among too many papers spoke about controlling the house devices by the mobile devices. Also it is difficult to ensure that nobody got the like idea of this paper work. It needs reasonable time to achieve that. Another thing also it is difficult to get better solutions for their ideas weaknesses. Some of the research spoke about connecting each device separately and use smart phone as a remote controller for the devices functionalities like controlling TV channels menu. Another research tries to develop a complete smart house with a lot of sensor controllers which also use smart phone within the system. The difficulty here is to find the specific research related to this paper research.

Learning new programming skills challenges

To establish such system the individual need to learn and expert a lot of arias start from electrical devices knowledge. Study how to connect and collect useful information from the electrical devices. Study how to write programmes for the programmable switches. Study and search for the suitable programming language for the central computer application which can contact whit the programmable switch and the smart phone. Also the programming language to write a smart phone application which will allow it to communicate to the central computer by sending/receiving massage signals.

Implementation and Testing challenges

The system will be tested by a prototype implementation which will include full setup of the system methodologies and simple structure of life houses devices. This testing will be in the Staffordshire University with the present of the project supervisors and whoever is interested to see the testing from the university.

The prototype will include:

One or more electrical devices

One or more programmable kits which will form the main system switch.

A personal computer.

SIM card reader.

A Smart phone device.

Research Programme

The approach of this dissertation programme will be as followed:

First: Reading and collecting information related to the research which will include:

Academic papers




This process will be the base of the dissertation programme. Also it will provide required knowledge to achieve the research goals. This will include studying different programming languages, electrical devices knowledge, communication protocols and database management systems.

Second: Writing down the necessary information to include it in the final report writing. This will be after each step done in the project, So that it will be useful for the final report writing.

Third: looking for suitable and important equipments to design the project prototype and insure that the equipments are good enough to implement the system ideas. This equipment will be chosen based on perfect quality level and low price efficiently.

Forth: start to assemble the equipments together and write the application coding for each device.

Fifth: work and discuss with the dissertation supervisors to insure the right path of project steps and implement the project scope and boundaries.

Sixth: test the system and correct possible errors till insuring that the system works correctly.

Seventh: writing the final report after the system got examined by the dissertation supervisors.

Task No

Task Description



Studying other researches which talked about controlling house devices using smart devices.

20 Days

14/06/2010 - 04/07/2010


Studying smart phones systems programming like Microsoft Visual Basic 2008 Express - ESN.

20 Days

25/06/2010 - 15/07/2010


Studying programming programmable switches language like Microsoft Micro Framework.

20 Days

16/07/2010 - 05/08/2010


Studying how to collect information and control electrical devices.

20 Days

06/08/2010 - 26/08/2010


Looking for suitable devices to implement the system.

15 Days

27/08/2010 - 11/09/2010


Designing and testing the system prototype.

30 Days

07/09/2010 - 07/10/2010


Discussing with project supervisors about the results of the prototype testing.

10 Days

08/10/2010 - 18/10/2010


Writing the dissertation report.

82 days

08/09/2010 - 29/11/2010

Literature Review


The literature review for this study will include some related to the subject journals, books, internet sites and computer magazine reports. But as this study is related to subject who is changed a lot frequently, most of the literature review will be resent journals and some companies' sites that are working to develop same job as this dissertation subject dose.

Journals will help in this research by:

To get more information about how to develop and implement controlling electrical devices by smart phone works.

To start from the points that other research journals stops in.

To solve some of the research weaknesses or problems.

To enhance researched aria by getting more solutions for the problem.

Books will help to

Study related to the dissertation programming languages.

Get knowledge about electrical networks and wireless networks.

Get knowledge how electricity voltage can be maintained.

Some of the internet sites have very important information like T Mobile company web site that has a project to develop smart house project which will include controlling house devices remotely. Also other site has some examples of the study subject that not have academic report standards. This kind of sites will give more important and resent knowledge.

This research will develop and suggest a complete solution of the problem. Considering the easiest and cheapest way of development and maintenance. It will be able to control activation/deactivation of all house devices by creating a single main programmable switch attached to the main electricity power provider for the entire house devices. This programmable switch will not be attached to each device functionality directly rather than connecting to the electricity power provider wires. Instead of that it will be focus on:

Controlling the activation/deactivation remotely from anywhere within GSM network area.

Maintaining usage of the system history in a database for farther analysis.

Collecting and storing the units used and from this a total cost will be produced. The currency and unit cost is convertible throughout the world.

Main Literature Review

The importance of this kind of project makes Orange mobile phone company to spend £2 million to transform an old farmhouse in Hertfordshire into a "super home" which used mobile phone as a remote control of the house devices Mary Fagan (2001). Orange project developed to make people life easier by computerising the entire houses devices and make it controlled with the personal smart phones application. It uses also the internet browser to contact to the house devices remotely. But the disadvantage of using web browser to manage this kind of systems is a danger idea because it can be hacked-up by hackers. Also it will be difficult to use because internet browsers depends on the network speed in the user aria can be slow and costly. Another disadvantage of their system is in order to connect the device, that device should have wireless facility which also affects the cost of the implementation and the maintenance of the system.

A part from this later on in (2006) Mr Jeffrey Nichols and Brad A. Myers develop a project which works based on coping the applicants functionally from each machine that their system wants to communicate to it. Then the system will create an adaptor interface between the machine and the central computer. The central computer will have communication programme application between the applicants and the smart phone GUI system. Their system was capable to adjust the volume of the machine like audiophase shelf stereo and inherit the applicant functionality. Their system was perfect in communicating to some of the machines which can be really allow the system to copy its' functionality. But their way was hard to implement because the way of connecting to each applicant should be strong enough to reach to its' impeded functionalities.

Alexander Gruenstein (et al 2008) develops a mobile phone system which uses speech voice recognition via the mobile phone browser. This enables the user to activate/deactivate the TV or list the channels and chose their wished programme to record it even if they were out of the house. The connection to the house devices was via Wi-Fi connectivity or by mobile web facility. Their system reaches in depth of controlling the user devices. But the disadvantage of the system is they uses web browser connectivity and it is also hard to implement and expansive to maintain. More else it is not centralise every machine has to have its' own connectivity to the system which is a weakness also.

Dacian Tudor (et al 2009) created a system called Zombee which is a home automation system. It is wireless connectivity solution aims to control houses devices by using ZigBee networking solution. ZigBee is a platform standard for wireless connectivity networks which Zombee use as a base to control the devices. Event controller was used to control the activation/deactivation of the devices like when the alarm clock rings, turn on the coffee machine in the kitchen and turn on the lights in the bathroom. The iPhone location services can be used to implement Coming-Home awareness. The home can be set to deep sleep low power mode if the owner leaves a certain area and re-activated if the owner enters a designated area. Also the user can control the devices by a GUI system in the house itself. The advantage of the system is they are succeeded to easy to control system but their way was forcing the user to bay their machines in order to control them remotely. This will affect the final cost of the implantation and maintenance of the system.

Rifat Shahriyar (et al 2008) design a prototype of a system uses mobile phone SMS (Short Message Service) to control house electrical devices. Their prototype structure contains user mobile phone send/receive messages to house mobile phone. House mobile phone is then connected to a computer. That computer connected to an X10 third party controller which module the protocol of connecting the devices manual controllers which responsible to activate/deactivate the devices. They use X10 instead of TCP/IP protocol because it makes a wide variety of devices talk to each other and also with the computer. The advantage of their system was they were able to centralise the connection to the devices instead of connecting to each devise separately. The strong point in this way is the ease of implementing and maintaining the system and it is cheaper. But their system can only activate/deactivate the devices only not to control most regular common functionalities like adjusting the heater temperature or TV volume.

Malik Sikandar (et al 2009) also used SMS to communicate to house devices. Their system was able to send/receive SMS messages through a GSM modem. The system was structured as; first the user GSM device sends a message and the modem then receives it. Second the modem sends that message to the computer via RS323 port. Then the applicant control system in the computer will be responsible to activate/deactivate the devices. Also the system has a wireless security capability. They achieved that through a security intrusion detection solution. If the system detects any security issue problem then the system will generate an alert to the user about the problem. Their system was perfectly able to activate/deactivate the devices and monitor the security issues. But it is difficult for the user to memorise system keywords to send it to the system in order to activate/deactivate the aimed devices. Also the alerts were static report sent to the user which is difficult to change or to ask for more descriptions.

All of the above described work discusses the integration between the electrical devices and the mobile devices issues. That includes the ways of connections weather it is via wire or wireless, SMS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Radio frequency and so on. The functionality of the devices weather it can be controlled remotely or not. The ease of user interfaces applications weather it is via SMS enabled system, separate machines, smart phone applications or via speech recognition transmutation event handler. Also weather the system is able to connect to multiple devices together via a third party controller connected to all devices in the house or force each device to have a capability to connect to the mobile devices directly. The discussion includes also the security issues of such project via recognising the user smart phone SIM card number.

All of the system above will help to achieve more useful system by keeping in mind the weaknesses and disadvantages of them and try to avoid doing the same. The solutions for those problems which this paper is going to solve:

For the connection to the devices, this system will use a centralised way via the main switch hardware which will connect to the devices electricity provider wires using parallel connection.

This system will not have wireless connection which required only if the user wants to control other device functionality like adjusting the audio devices volume.

This system will provide easy to use and more interactive GUI application. The user will not write the message to control the devices or ask for any report from the central computer. He/she will click on the buttons and the system will send a short keyword message to the computer and when the computer replays a number keyword message. That number keyword message will be converted to a readable report for the user.

For the security issues the system will be secure by two level of security. First level the central computer database will hold all valid numbers which can affect the system. Second level the application in the smart phone will have a user name and password login screen.