The Z-Wave Alliance, co-sponsored by Kwikset, Vivint, and others are going way outside the box for their next Home Automation demo. A nearly month-long mountain climbing exhibition outside the box. They are sending Mariusz Malkowski to the peak of the 6th highest mountain in the world, Cho Oyu, to control his home in New Jersey. In case you’re wondering, Cho Oyu is nowhere near New Jersey. It’s on the Nepal-Tibet border, 12.5 miles from Mount Everest. He will be 26,906 feet above sea level, and if all goes according to plan, he will have control of his door locks, thermostat, and unspecified other Z-Wave devices.
I’m betting he’ll get a little jealous if he has two-way feedback from the thermostat from way up there. The climb is dangerous, being done with no supplemental oxygen, and Malkowski plans to do it alone. Wikipedia says that “mountaineers refer to the altitudes above 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) as the “death zone,” where no human body can acclimatize.” Talk about a tough work assignment! I feel good when I make an automation system work perfectly while I’m in the house.
If you’re unfamiliar with Z-Wave, it is an open-source wireless control protocol that uses a “mesh” architecture to allow devices to communicate with one another. There are over 160 manufacturers in the Z-Wave alliance and the concept is that all of their Z-Wave devices can all interface with each other. Z-Wave covers the gamut of home control, from light switches, dimmers, door locks, and thermostats to water leak detectors, water valves, motion sensors, and relays that can control things like garage door openers, shades, and water features.
That gives homeowners and integrators a massive catalog of devices to build their systems with. Your imagination (and the device’s compatibility with each other) is the limit. Most Z-Wave devices are easy to program and integrate into a system, but every now and then certain devices may be reluctant to play nicely in your sandbox. A little internet searching can usually prevent these incompatibilities. The system has became much more robust and budget-friendly over the years. One of my favorite features of Z-Wave is it’s scalability. You can start out with a small, simple system for a couple hundred dollars and an hour or so setting it up. From there devices can be added individually as you realize the Z-Wave capabilities that will benefit you the most. All of which, of course, can be controlled from a mountaintop if your system is configured correctly (and you have access to any kind of signal).
Mariusz will be hiking and climbing for over three weeks starting September 10. If all goes well, he’ll be sending a live feed of his automation demo to the floor at CEDIA Expo 2013 in Denver, CO, from September 25-28.