It's essentially an OS which takes connected devices and adds a centralised control panel for things like using a Kinect sensor to dim the lights in a room. Yes, you read that right.
"HomeOS provides a centralized, holistic control of devices in the home," explains the Microsoft Research blog.
HomeOS seems to be an attempt to bring this under a common software management interface (we've heard this before). Another example, monitoring and controlling security cameras with your smartphone.
The applications themselves still require creation by third party developers - and there's already a bunch of apps you can use on yoru phone to do things like change channels on your TV.
According to Microsoft Research, HomeOS has been running in 12 homes for four to eight months, and there is support for "a wide range" of devices. "42 students have built new applications and added support for additional devices independent of our efforts," the MS Research blog states.
We've seen similar efforts to HomeOS in the past, as well as various ways to monitor and control power use. Interestingly Netegar has been developing an app-based platform that runs on routers themselves. Here's the video introducing the concept.
Read the full Microsoft Research HomeOS paper here.
There's no doubt home networking is going to take on a whole new meaning in the future, even more so if and when the NBN reaches the majority of Australian homes.
We wonder about the concept of the "Smart Home" though. It's a term that's been bandied around for years, since the days of the Internet fridge. We don't deny its handy to have some things networked, and some people get a kick out of hooking up security cams and such. Stil, do we really want everything networked?