All posts tagged: home automation

What is Bluetooth 4.0?
The fourth version of the popular Bluetooth technology is first seen on the iPhone 4S. If you asked any user, most of them LX's Bluetooth technologywould be happy with Bluetooth 2.0. Meanwhile, Bluetooth 3.0 applications are very hard to find. If this is the case, why do we need a Bluetooth 4.0?

The Bluetooth wireless standard is a brainchild of Ericsson and was first released in 1994. Since then, it has found its way on mobile devices mostly for use in wireless headsets and headphones. It is also the most common way to send files between phones in short distances. Although not all phones support all available Bluetooth profiles, exchanging data between any phone brands was made easy because of it.

Previous Bluetooth Versions
Versions 1.1 and 1.2 provided the device discovery system that most Bluetooth device users are familiar with. This allowed gadgets to be paired by entering a default or defined password. Version 2.0, released in 2004, increased the data transfer speed from 721 kb/s to 2.1 Mb/s by employing the Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) function. Three years after 2.0, version 2.1 was released that featured simple methods for pairing devices. It is also the version that allows other ways in pairing devices, most notable of which was Near Field Communication (NFC).

The third version of Bluetooth added the ability to use Wi-Fi as another means for transferring data. Bluetooth establishes the connection then routes the data over Wi-Fi, making the transfer faster. It was supposed to add Ultra Wide Band (UWB) support but was discontinued for unknown reasons. Only a few phones supported Bluetooth 3.0 whose features were not really needed during that time.

Bluetooth 4.0 and Bluetooth Low Energy
In 2010 Bluetooth 4.0 was introduced. This version increased the range at which data can be sent, from 10m to 100m. But maybe the most significant change that BT 4.0 brought was Bluetooth Low Energy – the technology that brought a Nokia feature to Apple’s iPhone and Mac products.

Actually, Bluetooth Low Energy is not the first low-power radio system to come out. Before it were Z-Wave and Zigbee whose applications are completely similar to what BT 4.0 offers, such as home automation and appliance control.

Bluetooth Low Energy was originally named Wibree by Nokia when it was introduced in 2001. The proponents of the technology made it clear that it can be used to send data intermittently for a long time, consuming power in the range of 0.01 to 0.5W. This and the quick connection set-up times allow BT LE devices to run on a small battery lasting for months.

Bluetooth Applications
One of the first devices to use Bluetooth 4.0 was a wireless heart-rate monitor. The technology allows a device to use a computer or a phone to connect to its associated web service easily. For instance, the device could send your heart-rate to a website for further studies. Another application includes a smart electricity meter that requests your computer to establish a connection to the power provider’s website.

Bluetooth 4.0’s low power consumption allows it to be installed inside watches. A Bluetooth 4.0-powered watch is useful in many situations. For example, your watch can act as a key to open your phone. This will prevent anyone from opening your phone because the phone will know that it is not you.

Bluetooth SIG, the organization that oversees the Bluetooth standard, expects most of the phones that will ship in 2012 to include this technology. The lower power consumption and decreasing cost of silicon will make BT 4.0 come for free, just like how the old Bluetooth functionality was built into Wi-Fi chips. The SIG also sees BT 4.0 to be used in other areas, including remote controls for home entertainment, temperature monitoring and control, proximity sensing and much more.  

The Future of Bluetooth?- Final Thoughts
Although BT 4.0 holds a lot of promise, its rise could be thwarted by similar technologies. Set-top boxer makers are already including both Z-Wave and Zigbee which make their kit a hub for home automation and control systems. Some energy companies are using smart metering with Zigbee modules inside, and mobile phones are using ANT+ for their health and fitness sensors.

But if plenty of new phones will include Bluetooth 4.0, this would give critical mass for other devices to follow suit. Whether you will be using it to monitor your blood glucose soon will depend on the race between Bluetooth SIG and its competitors in publishing profiles for device makers.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisWhat is Bluetooth 4.0?

Making your Home Smarter: Automation

The convenience and security of home automation are undeniable, and more and more people are
LX can make your home smarter through automation
using it. Not only that, a smart home can be an energy-efficient one, as you have more control of your appliances. It is always nice to have your lights automatically dim as you leave your room or play your favourite song just by clapping your hands. Home automation might cost a bit to install but the benefits are worth the investment. 

Defining a “Smart” Home

A smart home incorporates a network that connects appliances and devices. This network allows anything that utilises electricity to
communicate with each other and respond to your commands. Controlling the devices could be done using a computer, wireless controller, or by voice. The system can be similar to a personal assistant who awaits your every beck and call. Lighting, home theatre, security, temperature regulation and entertainment are the most common systems to be automated.

A Short History of Home Automation

It was just a few years back when only society’s well-off could afford an automated house. But now, the developments in electronics technology have paved the way for much cheaper systems, enticing more families to convert their abode to smarter homes. How did smart homes begin?

It was in 1975 when Scottish company Pico electronics created X10, the technology that gave birth to home automation. X10 allowed compatible appliances and devices to “talk” to each other using the existing electricity connections inside a house.

Receivers are installed in the appliances and devices, and a remote control or keypad acts as the transmitter. Pressing the remote control sends out data wirelessly, encapsulating simple codes like 0010 for “on” and 0011 for “off”. The X10 was revolutionary during that time although it has its limitations. For instance, communication among the devices using electrical wires can be unreliable – the signals are heavily attenuated by the 120/240 volt system that is used in American homes.

More technologies emerged since then, all trying to overcome the limitations of the X10. Z-wave and ZigBee moved away from using power lines and used a special frequency channel for sending out radio waves. Both technologies used low-power and low-cost modules that are connected, following a mesh topology. Being low-power allowed ZigBee modules to be manufactured in small sizes and use smaller batteries. Mesh networking provides reliability and a more extensive communication range.


Choosing the right automation software is very important. Modules follow the same technical standard and they all work the same, but programs do not. You must choose a program based on ease of use. Activhome is recommended for beginners, as the user interface is simple to follow. You can control your appliances through your computer using it. If you want more customization, then Powerhome could be for you. This program allows you to create timed sequences as well as routines that fit your preference.

Adding other systems would require new programs. For example, if you choose to add a weather monitor, you will need Virtual Weather Station. This program allows your automation software (e.g. Activhome) to communicate with your climate sensors.


The server, interface and modules are the hardware of your automation system. The server acts as the brain of the system and will always include controllers, timers and computers. Servers have become more intelligent over the years and may now accept commands from smartphones. E-home Automation products are examples of systems that can process commands from Apple’s iPhone. Interface refers to the connection between the different components of the system, while modules receive the commands for the devices.

Smart Grid and the Future

The term “smart grid” refers to a node in a network of electrical systems that can analyse behaviours and do actions based on what it sees as necessary to maintain the efficiency of the system. The ability to control home appliances and lighting is viewed as an integral addition to the smart grid as it is being rolled out in a few countries.

A combination of home automation systems and smart grids will pave the way for better energy management in the future. A possible application could be turning on the air-conditioning system using the high power derived from a solar panel on a hot day. Smart grid technology will also evolve just like home automation so that this so-called “green automation” can be utilised in more homes.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisMaking your Home Smarter

LX Group is an innovative contract electronics design company based in Sydney and Canberra, specialising in the design of embedded systems and wireless technologies. They are pleased to announce a strategic partnership with HETECH, a leading electronics manufacturer in Brisbane. The partnership couples LX Group’s high quality design LX Group Services with HETECH’s extensive local and overseas high volume manufacturing capabilities, providing a complete turn-key solution for the customer.

HETECH has almost 20 years industry experience and has recently created a new division called TechHome which specialises in remote controlled technology for home automation. Both Mark Steiner (HETECH’s Managing Director) and Simon Blyth (Director of LX Group) are looking forward to the perfect match of resources and capabilities between the two companies.

LX Group has continued to grow substantially during 2008. They opened a design office in Canberra at the start of the year, headed up by senior design engineer Keith Bates. LX has worked with customers such as ResMed, and has recently invested in a spin-off company, VenueMedia. Their head office is located in the Australian Technology Park, Sydney.

LX Group is an electronics design company specialising in the design of embedded systems and wireless technologies, particularly in the RF (Radio Frequency) sector. Simon Blyth, Director at LX Group said that the two companies have almost perfectly matching resources and capabilities. HETECH looks forward to a rewarding partnership with LX Group.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations. 

Muhammad AwaisLX Group Announces Strategic Partnership with Australian Manufacturer HETECH