Sebastian’s Frank Vander Wiede can control most of the features of
an Intella-Home by using a telephone. Security and fire alarms, lighting functions
and entertainment features are all part of the computer wizardry developed by the computer genius.

High-Tech Inventor Computer Wizard Designs Futuristic Home Systems

By JENI BROCK STEELE – Press Journal Staff Writer

After a long day at work you’re tired, hot and your feet are aching. One step past the threshold of your own home and a voice says “welcome home.”

No big deal if you’re married or live with a companion, but if you’re single, the words “welcome home” is not what normally greets you at the door.

It could happen. It does happen. And now it’s happening in Indian River County, thanks to Frank Vander Wiede who has made the Jettisons’ lifestyle more than cartoon futuristic fantasy. Some Jetson-like family could be your next door neighbors.

Vander Wiede has taken the animated action serious and made an automated abode. With Vander Wiede’s technology, you can come home from a long day at work and it’s your own home that welcomes you with words spoken at the door. “The Voice” is music to Vander Wiede’s ears. He designed it. He made it work and he’s developed the computers that make the whole process possible. “We used ‘The Jettisons’ and ‘Star Trek’ as role models,” he said. “But it’s here. Today.”

Vander Wiede is the brains behind Intella-Home, the business that provides automated technology that can turn lights on and off, set alarms and sound warnings again st intrusion, fire and unannounced visitors. Children can be told to flush a toilet and wash their hands before they leave the bathroom. Doors that provide entry onto patios or pool areas will warn homeowners when they’ve been opened. “This way, kids can’t go out by the pool and you not know about it,” he said. And those features don’t even scratch the surface of Vander Wiede’s computer wizardry.

His genius came to the forefront when Vander Wiede was 10. “My mother wouldn’t make up my bed,” he said. “I had the TV, the radio and the lights in my room rewired so I could control them from a panel on the headboard. My mother was afraid she’d be electrocuted.” Vander Wiede learned electronics and communications while in the U.S. Air Force. Once his military career was over, he went to work for an engineering firm that was under contract to Bell Telephone in New Jersey. His interest continued to grow, after his own furniture company was hired to design special cabinets that would conceal bulky lighting control equipment.

Soon, Vander Wiede had his own home controlled by automation. “Automation does all those mundane chores you don’t want to do,” he said. But Vander Wiede is not lazy. He just has little time to spend doing the ordinary time-consuming jobs that are no fun.

He’d rather be working on his computer designing something else. And if he’s not, he whines. “Really, he does,” said Paulette, his wife and partner. Vander Wiede’s brains are complemented by his wife, who helps with the couple’s latest projects. ” She’s my right arm,” he said. “He’s the mad scientist,” she said. She demonstrates some of the ingenious mechanisms made possible by a computer that controls a variety of other features.

One recent project completed by the Sebastian businessman is a home a long the ocean. Behind the home is a boardwalk to the beach. “You know how people will come up on you just being curious? Well, not anymore.” A voice will tell intruders they have entered a private area and an alarm will sound if they proceed. Inside, the homeowner is warned about the intrusion. The computer is tripped by weight monitors on the walkway, set so the alarm is not triggered by small animals or birds. The smart home knows exactly where it stands on earth by latitude and longitude so it automatically knows the exact time of sunset and sunrise everyday and won’t leave you in the dark. Vander Wiede’s technology allows everything to be controlled by telephone. And he loves what he does. “The glory is doing what most people think is impossible and I do it for practical purposes.”

So far, he hasn’t found a single glitch that he hasn’t been able to work through. “I spend most of my time designing new programs.” His wife sings his other praises. “He won’t tell anyone he’s a great painter.” On canvas or on computer? “Don’t encourage him,” his wife said, laughing. “He’ll figure out a way to do it.” While the computer wizard continues to develop his technology, his smart homes are able to do lots of interesting things that were once only dreamed about in the days of Buck Rogers.

The Intella-Home works through computer controllers, guaranteed by Vander Wiede for a year after installation. It sets burglar and fire alarms and will light escape paths. Monitors allow homeowners to check when the maid arrives and leaves. When the plumber needs to come, punch numbers into the telephone and the house will allow him to enter. On party nights, when guests are Invited from one home to another, call ahead and the home will automatically turn on music, the television, the Jacuzzi, the pool lights and lower the temperature on the air conditioner. Lighting throughout the home can be controlled to turn on and off automatically, even dim to whatever percentage will make the homeowner comfortable. And comfort is one thing Vander Wiede is concerned about.

“This uncomplicated things, and you don’t have to be wealthy.” Most of these features can be installed for less than the price of a swimming pool. This makes you feel like a king in your own castle.”