Keyless entry: I've got you under my skin

( dpa ) - Sydney's Patrick Franklin had hoped to put one over on his Melbourne chums by being the first Australian with a silicon chip implanted in his arm.

But Melbourne's Jonathan Oxer beat him too it and is the first in the country to leave home without having to worry whether his keys are with him.

Franklin's motivation for micro-chipping was a commitment to not owning a car. He's a member of a car-sharing fraternity and having a chip under his skin would obviate the need for picking up keys after booking a car online.

Oxer, 37, is more computer nerd than eco-warrior. Getting in the front door of his home with a swipe of his arm is just the start of it.

His entire house is hooked up to a central processor and can be controlled remotely through his work computer or mobile phone.

Oxer, a computer professional and former head of the Australian chapter of the Linux open-system supporters club, believes in "having everything work invisibly" and so his home is not all cabling and twinkling lights.

A magnetic switch installed inside the letter-box detects mail and informs Oxer, his wife and children that the postman has been. The garden irrigation system is fully automated and computer-controlled.

There's nothing as old fashioned as a doorbell that rings. The button activates a camera and monitors around the house capture the identity of new arrivals. If everyone is out, a picture message is sent to Oxer's mobile phone for him to decide whether to allow entry.

Curtains, doors, lights and windows are all wired so they can be controlled electronically.

"You can go to bed and realize that you left the light on at the other end of the house and be able to turn it off without getting out of bed, using an interface on a mobile phone or using a telephone keypad," Oxer told The Age newspaper.

"You can do things like issue a single command when you leave the house to tell it to go into lock mode and know that every single door is locked, all the curtains are closed and all the windows are closed, without checking them individually."

Issuing the shower command on the central processor sets the water temperature to 41 degrees.

Oxer didn't get others to wire up the house. He did it all himself in his spare time for a "couple of thousand dollars" and by "modifying off-the-shelf equipment rather than buying expensive equipment designed specifically for automation."

Oxer's next project is to modify the bathroom scales with a Bluetooth-enabled mini computer that reports back to a desktop. The data would be logged in a spreadsheet, and Oxer could generate graphs showing fluctuations in his weight.

Another weekend project is to modify his car with a Linux-based computer to allow constant access to the internet. The car could then relay to the home computer information from the engine management system and from the GPS system.

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