Smart homes could make our lives easier. But they could also end up being a real pain. Devices from competing companies might not want to talk to each other. Your gadgets might collect personal data and sell it to advertisers without you knowing about it. The company you bought your hardware or software could close down, rending the product you shelled out big bucks for practically useless. Your whole house could become a botnet. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s no reason that your personal “Internet of Things” shouldn’t be a collection of gadgets and apps that you control — not some company off in the cloud somewhere.

The Calaos Project is a collection of software tools aimed at helping you do just that. “The goal of the project is to produce an entire software suite that lets people configure, control and monitor their houses the way they want,” says Calaos developer Raoul Hecky.

Calaos includes a custom version of Linux designed specifically for the Internet of Things; a server platform for centralizing third party devices; and, perhaps most importantly, mobile apps for Android and iOS so that you can control all of your smart home gadgets from one interface. You can use the web and mobile apps to control anything that’s connected to the Calaos server, whether that’s a lighting system, a music player, or the locks on your house. It can become, in short, a remote control for your life.

Open House

Calaos was originally the name of a company that sold this set of tools commercially. The company, founded in 2007 by Hecky and a friend from university, never quite found its footing, and, lacking the funds to continue, closed its doors in 2013. But instead of letting the software die with the company, Hecky and company released the source code for its software under an open source license, meaning that anyone can now view the code, make changes to it, and release their own custom versions of the software.

smart home calaos

Raoul Hecky/The Calaos Project

The Calaos Project

In other words, the world can audit the software for privacy and security problems and even contribute fixes. Any hardware developer can ensure that their products are compatible with the system, without having to seek out a partnership with the developers. And the software is no longer at the mercy of the businesses decisions of a single company.
The downside, as of today, though, is that you’ll have to get your hands dirty to set all this up. Much like many other open source Internet of Things platforms — such as the hardware boards Tessel and Spark or software like Meshblue (formerly known as SkyNet), this stuff is for power users who have an idea of what they want to build.

“Today, Calaos is for end users that have some knowledge about electrical installations or home automation,” says Hecky. But he says that as more user friendly home automation tools hit the market — regardless of whether the devices themselves are open source — Calaos will support them, making it easier and easier to get started.

Keeping the Code Alive

The big question, though, is who will maintain Calaos. Hecky now has a new job at a software company in a completely different industry, and runs the project in his spare time. For now, he’s not interested in starting another company. “I [would] need a solid business plan and a good idea to not make the same mistakes,” he says. “If I’m going to start something again I don’t want to just re-create the same company we had.”

Instead, the Calaos team has founded a non-profit organization so that it can collect donations and handle all the expenses the project has right now, such as servers and test hardware for developers. And the beauty of open source is that, even if Hecky decides to move on, other developers can always pick up where he left off.

In the meantime, Calaos could make an interesting test bed for thinking through how the Internet of Things ought to work. As commercial giants try to sell consumers on their early smart home products, the field is still wide open for options that don’t require a corporate overseer.


A szerzőről

Az Envienta közösségi megoldáscsomag, mely tapasztalatok, erőforrások, valamint önfenntartáshoz szükséges termékek nyílt forrású megosztását teszi lehetővé. Ezen kívül pedig egy gyorsan növekvő, fenntartható, költséghatékony, non-profit, decentralizált és holisztikus társadalmi-gazdasági modell. Az Envienta Spanyolországban bejegyzett, nonprofit szervezet.

Kapcsolódó bejegyzések