I've really enjoyed finding new things to do with Indigo. I've used it for about 2 years now. I was originally trying to solve 2 completely unrelated problems: how to get rid of the clutter in my living room entertainment system and how to find an easier solution to program the lawn sprinklers. It occurred to me I could just buy a Mac Mini as a home computer/entertainment computer to do both.
The Mac Mini runs Indigo 24/7. There are X10 motion sensors throughout the house and the yard to give the computer commands to turn on lights (and most have internal timers to turn off the lights for a period after X10 sensors stop sending "on" commands). There is an X10 sensor in the mail box that changes the state of a "mail_arrived" variable. When I get home and trigger the hallway motion sensor, an action group turns on the lights and if the mail variable state was changed, the computer announces the mail has arrived.
In fact, the computer voice turns out to be one of the more useful features of Indigo. A variable is set when I leave the house every day and if someone enters without turning changing the variable by remote control, the computer announces over the home entertainment loudspeaker "Security Alert. Security Alert. An intruder has been detected. System altering the police." This repeats in an endless loop. It does not actually call the police, but I'm sure an intruder would be scared to death.
I wanted the voice to sound more like an English Butler, so I bought the Larwence voice from Cepstral: http://www.cepstral.com/downloads/
This is among the most convincing of the voices I've heard. If you use an external software applet like Sound Player, you can make Indigo play real voice tracks. This is one feature I'd like to see integrated into the next version.
A similar motion sensor triggers a series of events when I get up in the morning, such as turing on lights and making coffee. The computer voice announces days that are holidays, reminders to take out the garbage and days that my Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner is schedule to run while I'm at work -- to remind me to remove obstacles for it.
During the summer an X10 temperature module turns on household fans at a certain temperature.
Of course, Indigo also solved the problem of programming the sprinklers and I like the fact they can bet set to run for a shorter time, several times a day. For a while, the frequency of watering was controlled in part by NOAA weather data the computer received from its wireless internet connection. But they frequently change the format of the data so I gave up trying to keep this feature up-to-date.
The computer's ability to turn on outdoor light's at different times of the year (accounting for the variable time it gets dark) is terrific.
I also have all of routines set up on wireless remotes, such as when I go to bed at night, one routine turns everything off. I'm sure Indigo has paid for itself in the electricity savings.
I've been curious about doing a voice-activated response, but since I usually have some kind of radio or TV sound going all the time, it's a bit impractical.
Most of the house has been re-wired with Insteon light switches and X10 duplex outlets. I would have preferred Insteon outlets, but they aren't available as a hard wire option. The Insteon Icon version wall switches work perfectly with the computer but they have been a disaster as manual switches. I have about eight of them and they all fail about 90% of the time to function manually. Fortunately I have remotes to turn them on and off through the computer, but when the computer is down, I can't control the lights. So, I'd recommend the higher priced SwitchLincs which also have a better warranty if they fail.
The only real disappointment has been I haven't been able to find a way to control my wireless fan/lights. It is also a radio frequency interface, not too far off frequency from the motion detectors and remotes, but no one seems to make an X10 compatible controller. It's really amazing what a primitive hobby home automation still is, at least on the hardware side.
I'm hoping iRobot will come out with a Roomba that communicates over WiFi so that it can be controlled by Indigo. Indeed, the main shortcoming of Roomba is that it lacks the processor power to map the house and vacuum efficiently. It has to rely on going over the same ground dozens of times over a long period of time. It does the job but is inefficient. But this kind of mapping could easily be done by any PC with a 2-way exchange of information between the robot and the home computer for changes in the terrain. iRobot is also working on a home sentry robot that uses WiFi and this would be very interesting to interface with Indigo.
Many people think of home automation in terms of a humanoid robot like Rosie on the Jetsons. We'll never have all-purpose, maid-like robots. In fact, if you really look at the robots in the Jetson's cartoons, the work was done by single-purpose robots: A Roomba-like robot vacuumed the floor, a mopping robot (iRobot's Scooba) washed the floor. Windshield wipers with sprayers washed the windows. All that remains is for someone to invent the hardware that interfaces with a standard protocol like X10, Insteon or even WiFi and Indigo can control it. Most home appliances have a microprocessor in it: microwave ovens, toasters, coffee makers. And why not a self-cleaning toilet with a thermal seat that Indigo could pre-heat on those cold winter mornings?