Huey Huelsbeck and his wife just bought a 1,600-square-foot “gadget.”
Or at least that’s how Huelsbeck sees the couple’s new home in the Atlanta suburbs.
The former Savannahian was the chief architect for the locally developed mobile application product Rappidapp that recently sold to an Atlanta firm. Now he’s “hacking” his residence in what is a hot new homeowner trend: Home automation.
Huelsbeck shared his do-it-yourself approach to creating a smarthouse Friday during the Geekend interactive conference at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art. The three-day event opened Thursday and continues through today, with more than 500 self-professed “geeks” attending lectures and roundtables and participating in activities focused on technology and creativity.
Dozens of “gadget guys” packed Huelsbeck’s presentation. Using a tablet to interface with lamps, speakers and other props, Huelsbeck demonstrated how easy and affordable smartening up the house can be.
“You can go out and pay a commercial company $20,000-$30,000 to automate everything,” Huelsbeck said, “or you can do it piecemeal and build a smarthouse from the ground up.”
Huelsbeck automated all nine rooms of his home for under $7,000, or $4 per square foot. He can control his lights, stereo speakers, television and thermostat using his tablet. The software tracks usage and will help the Huelsbecks become more energy efficient.
They installed the basic system just two weeks ago, so they’re still gauging the savings. Huelsbeck expects the cost cutting to be significant and to improve as his system evolves.
“I’m a gadget lover, and new technology is developing all the time,” he said. “I’ll do as much as my wife will allow me to.”
Huelsbeck is experimenting with smartphone GPS technology that can send messages to the system that controls his house. It won’t be long, he says, before his phone automatically interfaces with his house.
For example, the light in his carport will come on when he turns down his street on his way home. Or the thermostat will automatically adjust when he leaves the house or arrives at work.
He’s also looking into more hardware solutions, like motion detectors or video cameras that coordinate with the system, Kinect-like devices that respond to gestures and humidity sensors for the bathrooms.
Huelsbeck eventually sees the system responding to voice commands, like “something out of Star Trek.”
The possibilities excited the people watching Huelsbeck’s presentation. The session’s practical applications, juxtaposed with Geekend’s more technical lectures and roundtables held Friday, brought out the “inner geek,” according to organizer Sloane Kelley.
“The overall goal is always to show how creativity is being impacted by technology,” she said. “Huey demonstrates how the combination of creativity and technology can change your everyday life.”