The essence of this project is to design an enterprise-oriented automation system. Current Home Automation Systems provide users the ability to control devices remotely however; they are not robust and are prone to security risks. This project provides a unique solution where users can remotely control and monitor devices either via a Personal Computer (PC) or a Smartphone. It also addresses security issues by authorizing users via a University LDAP Authentication system. To provide an easy remote interface, several enhancements have been added to this project as well. Additionally, this system can be integrated with multiple devices and thus is capable of accommodating various users.
Initially, this project focused mainly on designing an automation system which would, on a command sent from a smartphone via Bluetooth, change its state. This however, is not scalable and limits the functionality of the device outside a certain range. To account for this issue, a more distinctive system was required. With the recent advancement in IP Technology, remote communication between hosts has become possible. Allowing remote connectivity between users and their devices would not only eliminate the issue of limited functionality but also provide a centralized platform to monitor and control these devices. Additionally, for the ever demanding smartphones to be used with our system, a Mobile website needs be developed. This Mobile website will make the content easy to access and interactive on their smartphones, hereby improving the overall user-experience. Lastly, and most importantly, security is a key enhancement of this project. Just so that our system is built against the various existing encryption methods out there, a more secure authentication scheme need to be integrated with the system. From a security perspective, user privileges can also be assigned, if project has to be implemented at a commercial level.
The design of this project was completed through the inter-working of several sections. The end devices are inter-connected in a wireless-sensor network which uses the Zigbee protocol. The topology of this network will be of a Star configuration where the main controller node, called gateway node, sends individual commands to the rest of the nodes, also called slave nodes, wirelessly. All end devices will be configured and pre-programmed with the arduino to accept commands from the gateway node. Apart from this, a server database is setup which contains information from username/passwords and individual roles to list of devices and their functions. This server also hosts the website which will serve as a remote interface to the devices for users. The website additionally, authorizes users using the Rutgers LDAP Authentication system which, grants access to student and faculty affiliated with Rutgers only. Upon logon, when user sends a command to turn a particular device on/off, the server will send a UDP packet to the gateway node, which is “alive” in the Internet via an Ethernet connection, with a certain packet structure. The gateway node thus parses this packet and commands the slave node to perform the respective function. As an acknowledgement, the gateway node will send a UDP packet back to the server to acknowledge that device status has been changed. The database will dynamically update and display the statuses of the corresponding devices, which make it easier for the users to monitor them.
This project has been completed and is currently now in the testing phase. This project aims to address issues of Usability, Accessibility, Security and most importantly security. From a future perspective, this project can be commercialized with the addition of some enhanced equipment.