Nath, I've had HAL for several years. The voice command/recognition is certainly a selling point, but for me once the newness wore off, I'd rather just have a robust, non-PC based automation system. See the other thread I started here:
in mind that once you buy the software, you still have to consider the interface/hardware requirements. You can go one of three ways:
- Computer mic and speakers only (cheap, and very inconvenient)
- Add telephone interface (like HAL). Again, pretty cheap and it adds some functionality, but just try to dial in from work and give commands via speakerphone or noisy cell...software can't filter background noise very well.
- Wire your entire house with an intercom-type system and high-end microphones (again needed due to lack of background noise filtering). You will also need a mixer at the center of the system, or you will have to do a push-to-talk setup (not really convenient).
When you think about it, once programmed, about 90% of the functions on your automation setup will run on timers or sensors (that's why you got an automation system, remember?). You won't be doing much direct-command stuff except for when you want to run macros and such. For this, I have an IR interface box
which reads IR codes from my Pronto remote and sends them to HAL - I can run all of the macros I need either via the remote, cordless phone, or tabletop module by the bed.
I'd like to hear other thoughts as well - especially those which involve hacking devices like routers, network audio devices (Audiotron), and wireless access points which already have web/SNMP interfaces and adding functionality. This is where I think the gap will be bridged and we will have a nice, clean black box in the basement which doesn't drain power and computer resources like a PC-based software.