It’s no secret that professionally installed home automation touch panels are very expensive. Could we make a panel that will be useful, easily customizable and relatively cheap? You bet we can!
Check for example this New Zealander’s home project that, with a little more polished GUI, could rival the better professional models. With the total cost of roughly $1200 US dollars (though it could be easily downgraded to $500-600) this project will allow you to control your home automation set-up, listen to locally stored music and Internet radio, play photo slide-shows, surf the web, watch online video and even automate creation of a grocery shopping list.
How would you lower the cost of the project? Instead of assembling a full-blown Core i5 multimedia machine check out one of the Intel Atom 330-based systems from Shuttle or Acer. They will put you down only $200-$300, they are small, they run cool and quiet and are capable enough to handle 1080p video.
One of the ready-to-roll systems is Acer AspireRevo AR3610 that ships with Windows 7, so you’ll save on OS as well. Check RevoHTPC blog on how to put together a multimedia system based on the Revo net-top.
Now, go have fun building a touch panel and share your stories and projects with us.
Update: Inspired by this project I started my own touch-friendly, open-source, interface for the kitchen, called KitchenTouch. Check this post for details.