ZigBee and other home automation technologies may be all well and good if you want to keep things practical and whatnot, but if you're the more adventuresome type, you may want to take after Instructables member leevonk, who's pieced together this slightly unwieldy contraption. At the heart of the system is a webcam, a flashlight, and some photoresistors that detect changes in brightness on the screen they're so elegantly affixed to. To change that brightness, you simply shine the flashlight at the area the webcam is pointed to, which relays the image back to the aforementioned PC via Yahoo Messenger which, in turn, activates a series of motors that can be used to perform a variety of tasks. Practical? Not exactly. But it is inexpensive, and it sure is more fun than a couple of mouse clicks. Head on past the break to check it out in action.

[Via Hacked Gadgets]

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DIY home automation system brings back the lost art of flashlight control