HomeOS: Enabling smarter homes for everyone

Established: September 30, 2010

It is no secret that homes are ever-increasing hotbeds of new technology such as set-top boxes, game consoles, wireless routers, home automation devices, tablets, smart phones, and security cameras. This innovation is breeding heterogeneity and complexity that frustrates even technically-savvy users’ attempts to improve day-to-day life by implementing functionality that uses these devices in combination. For instance, it is impossible for most users to view video captured by their security camera on their smartphone when they are not at home. Heterogeneity across devices and across homes also makes it difficult to develop applications that solve these problems in a way that work across a range of homes.

To simplify the management of technology and to simplify the development of applications in the home, we are developing an “operating system” for the home. HomeOS provides a centralized, holistic control of devices in the home. It provides to users intuitive controls to manage their devices. It provided to developers high-level abstractions to orchestrate the devices in the home. HomeOS is coupled with a HomeStore through which users can easily add obtain applications that are compatible with devices in their homes and obtain any additional devices that are needed to enable desired applications.

 NEW! HomeOS now supports Lab of Things (opens in new tab)


We conducted studies to both understand the difficulties that people face today in managing modern technologies in the home and understand how they would like to manage and secure them in an ideal world. Based on these findings, we have developed a research prototype of HomeOS. Our current prototype includes support for a range of devices (e.g., switches, cameras, TVs) and applications. Experimental results show that it is easy for developers to write applications and for non-technical users to manage their home networks with HomeOS. A dozen homes have “dogfooded” our prototype, and over 50 students have developers applications and drivers for it.

In addition to the publications and talks below, the following resources provide more information on the HomeOS prototype and what it supports:

Software Licensing

We are licensing (free; non-commercial use) the HomeOS prototype to encourage teaching, research, and prototyping on connected homes and devices. Thanks to Sigma Designs (opens in new tab), we also provide an SDK for Z-Wave devices.

Many research groups have licensed our prototype, including those at the Georgia Institute of Technology the University of Arkansas,  the University of Michigan, the University of Washington, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Waterloo.



Portrait of Sharad Agarwal

Sharad Agarwal

Senior Principal Researcher

Portrait of Victor Bahl

Victor Bahl

Technical Fellow & Chief Technology Officer, Azure for Operators

Portrait of A.J. Brush

A.J. Brush

Partner Group Program Manager

Portrait of Stefan Saroiu

Stefan Saroiu

Senior Principal Researcher

Portrait of James Scott

James Scott

Principal Program Manager