Patent Reveals Facebook Seeks to Join the War for the Living Room with new Home Automation Device – Patently Apple
Facebook surprised us in January when we discovered they had been granted a patent for 3D gesturing on a possible future smartphone. Then this week we discovered another Facebook patent illustrating a possible future tablet that could work with ’tilt scrolling‘ for games and other multimedia apps. And to top it all off we’ve discovered that Facebook is working on a Home Automation device and system that will enter them into the home automation war that’s still in its infancy between Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
Apple’s HomeKit is probably the most advanced though more devices are available for Android. During Apple’s financial conference call this week, Apple’s CEO went out of his way to impress upon the analysts that Apple is deadly focused on advancing home automation in his traditional opening statement.
Tim Cook: “And we’re leading the industry by being the first to integrate home automation into a major platform with iOS 10. With Siri and the new Home App in iOS 10, everywhere you go you could easily and securely control all of your home accessories with your iPhone, iPad or your Apple Watch.
The number of HomeKit compatible accessories continues to grow rapidly with many exciting solutions announced just this month including video cameras, motion detectors and sensors for doors, windows and even a water leak.
Perhaps even more importantly, we are unmatched when it comes to securing your home with HomeKit enabled door locks, garage doors and alarm systems.
I’m personally using HomeKit accessories and the Home App to integrate iOS into my home routine. Now when I say good morning to Siri my house lights come on and my coffee starts brewing. When I go into the living room to relax in the evening I use Siri to adjust the lighting and turn on the fireplace. And when I leave the house, a simple tap on my iPhone turns the lights off, adjusts the thermostat down and locks the door. When I return to my house in the evening as I near my home, the house prepares itself for my arrival automatically by using a simple geofence. This level of home automation was unimaginable just a few years ago and its here today with iOS and HomeKit.
With Google breaking out to deliver their own smartphone, it’s not hard to see that Facebook is clearly moving into the digital device space that will also be aiming to get ahead of Apple’s HomeKit that has yet to really land on Apple TV as a central hub as their patents have suggested.”
Facebook’s Home Automation Device and System
Facebook’s patent FIG. 1 illustrates an example of a network-based environment in which a home automation system; FIG. 5 is a diagram illustrating an example home environment in which various embodiments of the home automation system can be utilized.
Facebooks invention relates to a home automation system that provides a short-range, high-speed wireless communication link for enabling automated control of one or more home devices through connection with a social networking system. Traditionally, home automation systems often rely on Wi-Fi to communicate with various home devices for enabling home automation. Reliance on Wi-Fi, however, poses several problems. First, a Wi-Fi signal often cannot reach some areas of a home that are known as “dead zones.”
Typical solutions for overcoming these dead zones include amplifying the Wi-Fi signal, setting up multiple access points (APs), or a combination of both. These solutions often lead to the WiFi signal broadcasting beyond the boundaries of the home, thereby resulting in security risks of unwelcomed intruders gaining access to, and/or attacking, the home WiFi signal.
Second, some infrastructure change is often required to enable control of the home devices for home automation. Furthermore, manual configuration of the home devices is needed to set up preferences for every individual in the home. As a result, satisfying every individual’s needs can be burdensome, especially when new individuals (e.g., guests) are present in the home.
In contrast, Facebook’s invention enables a truly automated home automation system based on user preferences provided by a social networking system, and further allow for a short-range, high-speed wireless connection that is contained within the safe boundaries of the home.
Briefly described, the home automation system employs one or more home automation devices to control various home devices within the home based on detection of one or more users’ social profile, where each home automation device is configured to broadcast and communicate via a short-range, multi-gigabit-per-second (MGbps) wireless communication link that can be utilized by the various home devices.
In some embodiments, the wireless communication module is a Wireless-Gigabit (WiGig) adapter that is configured to provide a short-range wireless communication link at a multi-gigabit per second (MGBps) rate.
Each home automation device is further configured to be self-tuning, thereby enabling automatic management of the MGbps wireless communication link.
In some embodiments, a home automation device includes an Ethernet powerline system integrated with a short-range MGbps wireless networking system.
Among other benefits, integration of these two systems advantageously enables a high-speed wireless networking connection that is contained within the boundaries of the home, relieving home users from security risks typical for WiFi systems.
The MGbps wireless networking connection enables one or more home devices within the home to communicate, transmit information, and/or access various online content via a reliable, fast communication link.
Furthermore, such connection enables the home automation device to control the home devices seamlessly based on user preferences retrieved from a social networking system via the same reliable, fast link.
In some embodiments, a home automation device provides a platform for adding on various electronic components that can be physically coupled to the home automation device. In some embodiments, the electronic components include a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector, a video streaming camera, an audio system (e.g., a speaker sound system), etc.
In some embodiments, the home automation device provides the capability to operate as a CPU for a user mobile device (e.g., a smart phone, a tablet, etc.). For example, the home automation device provides a “mirror cast” capability to enable, e.g., a smart phone, to launch a movie playing on a screen of the smart phone to another electronic device, e.g., a TV, by using the home automation device to grab frames of the movie from the smart phone.
In some embodiments the home automation device provides reminders to a user at home based on that user’s preferences. For example, the home automation device can conjure up calendar event reminders (e.g., birthdays, family get-together, sports game, etc.). In another example, the home automation device can provide a verbal reminder (e.g., Buy milk), e.g., by connecting to a speaker within the home.
In some embodiments, the privacy settings are stored in the preferences store. In one example, a privacy setting limits the social networking system to accessing the transaction history of the financial account and not the current account balance.
As another example, a privacy setting limits the social networking system to a subset of the transaction history of the financial account, allowing the social networking system to access transactions within a specified time range, transactions involving less than a threshold transaction amounts, transactions associated with specified vendor identifiers, transactions associated with vendor identifiers other than specified vendor identifiers, or any other suitable criteria limiting information from a financial account identified by a user that is accessible by the social networking system.
Facebook’s patent FIG. 4 is a diagram illustrating a process flow for setting up a home automation device; FIG. 6 is a flow chart of a method of managing a communication signal of a home automation system.
At present Facebook’s CEO is a big talker and yet a darling of Wall Street. Will Facebook really get into the smartphone race or tablet business? Will they ever have a real digital assistant to compete with Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, Alexa and others – or is it just bravado?
Oculus VR is anything but a runaway hit due to a lack of content. So while Facebook looks like a hungry tiger wanting to play with the big boys, they’re still a paper tiger that’s more talk than action. Yet they still have potential to surprise and you can’t write them off just yet.
For more on this topic, also see our recent report titled “The Digital Assistant War for Home Automation Device Supremacy is about to get Really Heated.”
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