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Opening doors to low-cost home security

Posted: 16 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:low-cost home security? security and monitoring system? Blackfin processor? Ethernet?

Today's homeowners have become accustomed to easy-to-use, multimedia color interfaces, high levels of functionality and performance, and decreasing ownership cost. They have been influenced by their interaction with PCs, laptops, cellphones, PDAs and portable game units. Users' experiences with such products, and their level of comfort and satisfaction with such appliances have led to higher expectations and standards for the systems they use. Many installed residential security systems do not meet these elevated expectations, especially when compared with their owner's mobile equipment.

This trend, along with an increased awareness of vulnerability and desire for personal safety and security, has encouraged the development of affordable, full-feature, multimedia home security, monitoring and control systems.

Homeowners expect a security system to be able to detect intrusion and sound an alarm when a system sensor is activated. Many people would also like to see who is at their door before they open it, or perhaps be able to view who rang their doorbell while they were in another part of their home or out running errands. This ability to access, control and monitor systems around the house is an area that new systems being developed can support.

The challenge for system designers is to implement the required functionality in a low-cost, full-function unit. This unit should be scalable, offering a range of unit functionality at price points that can accommodate the range of potential customer needs and budgets. The design team is also faced with the challenge of getting their products developed, tested and into production as quickly as possible at the lowest possible cost to gain market advantage.

The architecture of a price-sensitive application is based on the use of low-cost, highly integrated components. However, with the addition of new capabilities, such as networked communication, complex control functions and video capability, high performance is also required.

A block diagram shows a full-feature, low-cost security system that includes a Quarter VGA LCD, Ethernet port for networking, local sensor and control function interface lines, input for an access door video source, and local and remote microphone and speaker pairs. The system also includes a memory expansion socket that can support the loading of user-customization files and system software updates into the unit and the transfer of video out of the unit.

This design is based on Analog Devices' ADSP-536 Blackfin processor with an embedded Ethernet MAC block. This system architecture has many advantages. It is scalable and can be networked.

Blackfin is at the heart of full-feature, low-cost home security system, which has a Quarter VGA LCD, Ethernet port for networking, local sensor and control function interface lines, among others.

The Blackfin processor family members are code-compatible, and some devices are footprint-compatible. This allows the manufacturer to develop units with a range of unit functionality, performance and price points all based on a common modular system architecture.

With this system, users can remotely monitor video views of their property. Users can also review video captured as a result of customizable system events, such as the front doorbell ringing or activity on a system motion detector. Units with advanced features can also be developedthey can interface with, monitor and control home heating and cooling systems, and control household lighting and appliances through a variety of open standard and proprietary home-networking protocols.

Many security-conscious homeowners have been waiting for affordable next-generation networked residential security and monitoring systems to arrive. They expect these systems to provide them the same level of functionality performance and convenience from their personal communication, productivity and entertainment systems. With new systems currently in development, their wait might soon come to an end.

- R.C. Cofer
Fields Application Engineer

- John Schippanoski
Senior Field Application Engineer, Avnet Inc.

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