Frustrated with my entertainment system’s complex, 4-remote-control setup, I embarked on a project code-named “Jane”. Consisting of an infrared blaster, an infrared repeater, a bluetooth proximity detection program, and the native speech recognition capabilities on my computer, “Jane” is my apartment’s voice-activated personality. She knows when my phone (and hence when I) enters or exits the apartment and can control every aspect of my home-entertainment system. As I walk in the door, she can turn on the TV for me, or I can simply say, “Jane, turn on the TV.” Further, Jane can speak feedback messages to me over my apartment’s surround sound, and display herself on the television as a sound sensitive, glowing orb.

While Jane is only mildly amusing to most of my visiting guests, the prospect of this sort of “smart spaces” technology really excites me. With an unlimited budget, I envision that Jane could expand to be fully integrated into my apartment's wiring, allowing me to turn on and off the lights, control kitchen appliances, suggest groceries to buy that I don't currently have in the refrigerator, and more. For all pictures and videos of jane in action, please visit:

"Turn the System On"

A command that causes multiple IR signals to be fired in sequence, turning on the sound, cable box, and TV.

"Switch to the Wii"

Jane can switch back and forth between any set of video and audio inputs.

Jane is Stateful

As she operates, Jane keeps track of the state of the entertainment system, and does not allow me to, for example, say "Turn the TV On" when it is already on. She keeps track of the state of the TV, the cable box, the DVD player, the sound input, the video input, channel, and more.

Presence Detection

Using a bluetooth proximity detection program appropriately called "Proximity", Jane can detect when my Blackberry (and hence when I) enters or exits the apartment. Here, you see me entering the apartment, Jane detecting that, and then asking me if I would like her to turn on the enetertainment system.