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Build a Rich Home Automation GUI for $499 with JDS HomeRunner

JDS Technologies, the grandaddy of DIY and pro-friendly home automation, introduces $499 HomeRunner RBI for folks with rich GUI dreams and small pocketbooks.


Build a Rich Home Automation GUI for $499 with JDS HomeRunner
Image: smarthome.com
Julie Jacobson · March 7, 2012

You know those pricey home automation systems with the slick GUIs that show you the room you’re controlling and let you watch the lights turn on, the fans whirl and motorized shades drop?

JDS Technologies, one of the granddaddies of home automation, has the poor man’s version of such a system called Home Runner RBI (Remote Browser Interface) and it’s pretty slick for the price.

JDS and its owner Jeff Stein have been around the home automation industry for more than two decades. Back then, there were just a handful of systems available, and JDS was one of them. The company keeps going and going and going ….

Through the years, the company has maintained a loyal following among do-it-yourselfers and a surprising number of pros who rely on the company’s rock-solid products (yes, even with X10) and sophisticated programming tools and rules engines.

Industry long-timers might remember JDS’s flagship Stargate controller, which put many integrators into business.

The original HomeRunner, introduced a few years ago, was a Windows-based software interface for Stargate. The new HomeRunner RBI is a completely new piece of hardware and “advanced software” that enables users to create their own GUI to serve up on virtually any Web-enabled device.

It’s fun and just $499

I had a demo of the original HomeRunner a few years ago and what can I say? It’s fun. Simply take pictures of a particular room with the lights on and off (and the shades up and down, etc.) in every combination. Then assign these images to the appropriate device states.

Voila, you can virtually see the state of any given room. The interface is a true reflection of the status of a room, Stein says, because the interface does not respond unless it receives a message from the system that an action was indeed implemented properly.

It’s simple to assign “hot spots” to any part of the screen so users can, for example, touch the fan to turn it on. The software supports animated gifs so you can drop an image of a swirling fan to your room, as JDS shows in its online demo of the software (check out the living room).

Unfortunately, HomeRunner RBI only supports X10 and Insteon for home automation, as well as Global Cache products for IR, relay, IP and other communications.

“Ultimately we hope to support Z-Wave and UPB [Universal Powerline Bus], but we have received so many requests for Insteon in recent years, we opted to start with that,” Stein says.

Insteon is an RF- and powerline-enabled protocol built into a full range of home control devices including lights, thermostats, motorized shade controls, security sensors, keypads, I/O modules and more.

It ain’t for rock stars, but for $499 plus accoutrements, consumers and pros alike can create a pretty nifty smart home in no time.

Don’t let the JDS Website fool ya. It isn’t pretty (sorry, Jeff) but the good news is that JDS doesn’t create the user interface … you do!

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Touch the lights to turn them on, the fan to make it spin and the fireplace to ignite ...
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JDS Telecommand in Electronic House, 1992



  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at jjacobson@ehpub.com

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  Article Topics


News · Insteon · JDS Technologies · X10 · All Topics
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