I’ve previously written about Insteon, a new home automation technology from the folks at Smarthome, Inc. As I said nearly a year ago, it holds a lot of promise because it’s the first technology that aims to supplant X10 by working with it, instead of replacing it. Personally, I think this is a good strategy since it allows established home automators to keep their investment in X10 going, while gently switching over to a more robust solution.
What makes Insteon appealing is that it’s wireless. While X10 technology cleverly piggy-backs its signals on your AC electrical lines, doing that has always been problematic because certain devices are known to “pollute” the power line with electrical noise. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Mr. ThinkPad Power Supply.) By moving the control signals over-the-air, devices should be more responsive and less prone to error.
The Insteon Starter Kit sells for $99 and includes a remote control, two lamp modules, and two repeaters that bridge your power line signals, which will improve the reliability of your old X10 devices too. What’s not included is a computer-to-Insteon interface, so at this point you’re really just making it more convenient to control the lights and not really automating them, but the Insteon SDK and interface was also recently released, so things in the software world should improve soon.
Perhaps at the Smart Homes session at WWDC we’ll have some more Insteon news to discuss. If you’re already an Insteon user, come by the session and share your experiences. I should also have an update about how I’m making out with another wireless automation contender, Z-Wave.
Does Insteon have what it takes?