The Internet-enabled aspects of Homelink gave the project planners a wild ride. For example, Internet grocery delivery service WebVan went bankrupt in mid-project. Another company, expected to supply "virtual" exercise software for the workout room, also went belly up.

Plans and sponsors changed overnight. William Walker, our systems integrator, left one company to start another. Our original home controls sponsor was replaced by Microsoft Home Director. Amazingly, when the dust settled, the system works, thanks in no small part to Mark Schmidt, with Microsoft Home Director, who quickly stepped in and took over systems integration. Its system, designed with open architecture, can talk to virtually any other server. For the time being, says Schmidt, the system will focus on entertainment, but eventually it can tie in with other functions in the home, including lighting, HVAC, anappliances.

The wireless CorAccess Web Pad from Home Director is just one element of a complete home control system, which provides services such as whole-house Internet access, sound control, interactive television, and digital photo management.
The wireless CorAccess Web Pad from Home Director is just one element of a complete home control system, which provides services such as whole-house Internet access, sound control, interactive television, and digital photo management.

"The real story in this house is that you have normal building materials suppliers trying to make their systems work together," says Walker. Companies such as Owens Corning, Whirlpool, and Carrier now realize that electronic integration has to be invisible and seamless. Tie it all together with a product like Home Director, and homeowners get the benefits--without a big learning curve.