The problem with "home automation" systems is that it is VERY loosely defined. Some say it's the ability to control your lights, others say it's HVAC, still others say it's distributed audio/video. Since it's such a generic term, somewhat consequentially there are a variety of vendors and products that claim to be home automation. If you want to bridge technologies, you have to find a product that'll do that natively or allow you to expand it yourself.
I happen to have a pretty robust system that uses Homeseer as the backend engine. This allows me to leverage strengths from various hardware providers due to the extensibility of their software, plus I have the ability to roll my own
.NET code and have it integrate into the system. I currently utilize some very specific X-10 devices for a narrow niche (wireless door and window sensors) and a thermostat (if it ain't broke!), but the great majority of my stuff has been converted to Z-wave. The beauty of Z-wave over X-10 is the signal confirmation... with X-10, I'd send a signal into the ether and hope it'd get there, but with Z-wave, I get delivery confirmation so the system knows that a desired action hasn't been completed. There are additional technologies out there like Insteon, ZigBee, and UPB, but they have issues I don't like or the squeeze isn't worth the juice. Some of this crap is exceedingly pricey and I just can't justify spending it.
I use Cinemar's MainLobby for integration with my theater gear, which also provides the sexy touchscreen frontend that everyone looks for in a system. Homeseer has also deployed a software with similar capabilities called HSTouch, but it isn't as powerful for my A/V setup just yet.
Just a quick rundown of some
things that I've got my system setup to do:
- Occupancy detection - if vacant, it goes into an energy savings mode and shuts off lights and adjusts thermostat setpoints.
- Exterior lighting is automatic based on sunset/sunrise, plus only brightens to 100% when motion detected or doors are opened.
- Certain actions at certain times trigger sequences: when I open my bedroom door in the morning, the kitchen light kicks on and the TV flips on and tunes to the news channel I like.
- Caller ID is screened and/or announced for me, in addition to displaying on television screens.
- Freezer and fridge doors trip alarms if they're left open for too long.
- Exhaust fans in the bathrooms are based on humidity conditions.
- Yard irrigation is controlled both by wind conditions and zoned soil wetness conditions.
- When the doorbell is rung, the touchscreens all show a live camera feed for that door from my ZoneMinder server.
There's tons more that I currently do, I've got a list as long as my arm of things I plan to do, and there's a lot of options out there for things I could do. If you're interested in HA, you really need to figure out what it is for you by detailing out what you want and how you want to get there. My route is a lot of DIY because I'm happy hacking my way through a problem... If you've got more money than brains, you can certainly take the vendor lock-in approach of something like Crestron.