`Location aware’ system from BT helps keep everything in its place

BT plans to combine your home phone and mains wiring into an intelligent location system that will help prevent TVs, videos and hi-fi equipment from being stolen. It will also be able to keep a remote eye on your smoke alarms.

The company has patented a scheme to use a range of `location aware’ telecoms systems to send digital codes to your TV or hi-fi so that they only work in their rightful homes. Such systems can include BT’s own `caller line identification’ service, mobile phones and even GPS satellite navigation devices.

If a TV is stolen and the thief tries to plug it in, an embedded chip will disable the device until it receives the right code.

BT calls it Smart-Electrics and has patented the IT `architecture’ for such as system. This means that a variety of technologies – such as Bluetooth short range radio – could be used instead of the mains to send signals between domestic appliances and the chosen location aware system.

In its simplest set-up, the domestic mains supply sends signals between a home control centre and appliances plugged in around the house. The control centre would be linked to the domestic phone line.

When a new appliance is plugged in for the first time, an embedded chip asks for a code number. At the push of a button, the home control centre dials up a central registry which then issues it a code based on the caller’s phone number and thus their address. The new appliance will now not work unless it receives this code whenever it is switched on.

The same technology can be used to keep an eye on smoke detectors and burglar alarms and automatically alert the local fire brigade or police.

The company is now talking to electronics manufacturers on a standard for a low-cost, tamper-proof chip for the next generation of domestic equipment. And a trial involving carbon monoxide monitoring in residential property is about to get under way.

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