Category: Home / building automation and security

Belkin and Mr Coffee introduces the first Wi-Fi-capable drip-filter coffee maker

Articles

Mr. Coffee Smart 10-Cup Drip Filter Coffee Maker - press image courtesy of Belkin

The first connected drip-filter coffee maker

Belkin and Mr. Coffee want to brew your first pot via WiFi | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Belkin

Press Release

Mr. Coffee

10 Cup Smart Optimal Brew Coffeemaker

Product Page

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uGODQUtxQD4

My Comments

After the success of the WeMo-capable Crock-Pot slow cooker, Belkin and Jarden have worked together on another smart appliance. This time it is a drip-filter coffee maker, courtesy of the Mr. Coffee brand.

Mr. Coffee WeMo coffee maker app in use - press image courtesy of Belkin

Check or set up this coffee dripolator using your smartpnone

The coffee “dripolator” works on the same “app-cessory” setup as the WeMo-capable slow cooker where you connect this appliance to your home network via Wi-Fi wireless and you download an app to your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. Here, the app becomes another control surface for the appliance, typically offering the ability to set up more functions like delayed brewing in this case.

With the app, you can schedule when you want the coffee maker to start brewing the coffee, know if it is still brewing the coffee as well as having the ability to place an “on-device” reminder about setting up the machine for the next pot to be brewed later.The second function comes in handy when you are entertaining because you could just glance at your smartphone to know if the coffee’s ready to serve.

This appliance can turn out 10 cups of coffee in its steel insulated carafe, which avoids the risk of having “stewed coffee” that can taste awful and was often associated with this class of coffee maker which typically heats the carafe to keep the coffee drinkably warm. Something I would like to see is a way for the software to gauge the brewing time for the coffee so you can know how much time there is left for you to, for example, get the cups, milk and sugar ready when serving that pot.

The use of Belkin’s WeMo infrastructure underscores a desire by Jarden, who own the Mr. Coffee and the Crock-Pot brands, not to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to creating a network-connected appliance. Personally, I would like to see Belkin apply WeMo technology to the HomePlug powerline network path rather than using Wi-Fi wireless for “smart-appliance” applications. This is to make use of the appliance cord as the data path rather than making sure the appliance is within range of your wireless router for reliable network operation.

As well, I would see the app-driven “smart-appliance” concept work very well with appliances that are based around a “process-driven” operation. Here, their operation requires you to prepare them to complete a process that will finish some time later like making a pot of coffee, and you can have them tell you that it’s ready through your smartphone or use that smartphone to have them commence the job “as late as possible”.

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The Nest thermostat receives a major firmware update

Article

Nest Learning Thermostat courtesy of Nest Labs

The Nest thermostat now on new firmware

Google’s Nest thermostat becomes a faster learner with major software update | PC World

From the horse’s mouth

Nest.com

Software update product page

My Comments

As the Internet Of Things starts to evolve slowly, there has been news about a home-automation device being “refreshed” with new firmware with the ability for equipment in current use to benefit from the software update.

Here, the Nest thermostat will benefit from a large software update which improves its learning abilities and preemptive operation functionality. Rather than having the user spend a lot of time adjusting the system to suit their lifestyle, this thermostat can learn your requirements more quickly. As well, Google published an API so it can interact with other devices and become part of the “Internet Of Things”.

Google tweaked the operation algorithm using a continual “opt-in” feedback loop involving existing users and this could be seen as a way to further fin-tune any machine-learning or “preemptive operation” algorithms. There is also other functions like time and outdoor temperature / humidity display abilities as well as a “system check” function to help you troubleshoot your central heating or air-conditioning, especially before a season change.

The Nest thermostat will receive the updates by itself as long as it is connected to your home network and the Internet. This allows for a hands-off update process and is an example of what should be done to allow for reliable and secure operation of equipment that is part of the “Internet Of Everything”.

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Internet Of Things connectivity issues

Article

Don’t get sidetracked: Connecting the residential IoE | The Beacon (Wi-Fi.org)

My Comments

Saeco GranBaristo Avanti espresso machine press picture courtesy of Philips

Appliances like this coffee machine are now working with dedicated mobile platform apps.

As the “Internet Of Things” or “Internet Of Everything” becomes ubiquitous in one’s lifestyle, there will always be some key issues with implementing this concept. It doesn’t matter whether it is for our health, wellbeing, convenient living or security that these issues will come in to play.

The core issue around the initial complexities will be due to use of network transports that don’t work on Internet-Protocol methodologies that have been established well before the Internet came to fruition in the mid-1990s. Rather, some of these implement an industry-specific data transport that requires the use of a so-called “bridge” between the non-IP transport and the IP transport.

Current implementation issues

Filling your computing devices with apps for each device and cloud service

Kwikset Kevo cylindrical deadbolt in use - Kwikset press image

The Internet Of Things should be about allowing these smart locks to work with other home-automation devices

At the moment, a lot of devices that offer control by smartphone require the use of vendor-developed apps and as you add more devices with this capability to your network, you end up filling your mobile device with many different apps. This leads to user confusion because you end up with having to work out which app you use to work with which device.

The same issue also affects cloud-based services where each vendor impresses on users to use the vendor’s supplied apps to benefit from these services. Again this leads to operator confusion which typically we would have noticed when we use social-media, over-the-top messaging or cloud-storage front-ends on our computing devices for each social-media, messaging or cloud-storage service.

This kind of situation makes it harder for one to develop software that makes best use of a device’s functions because they have to engineer a device to work specifically with a particular vendor’s devices. It brings us back to the days of DOS-based software where games vendors had to write the driver software to allow their software to interface with the computer system’s peripherals. This made it harder for customers to determine if that program they are after was to be compatible with their computer hardware.

Home-control systems and the home network

One issue that was highlighted was linking devices that use non-IP networks like Zigbee, Z-Wave or Bluetooth to the IP-based home network which works on Cat5 Ethernet, Wi-Fi and/or HomePlug. Typically this requires the use of a network-bridge device or module that connects to one of the Ethernet ports on the home-network router to link these devices to your home network, the Internet and your mobile devices.

Multiple bridge devices being needed

Nest Learning Thermostat courtesy of Nest Labs

… such as this room thermostat

The main question that was raised was whether we would end up with multiple bridge devices because each non-IP sensor or controller system was working in a proprietary manner, typically bound to a particular vendor’s devices or, in some cases, a subset of the devices offered by that vendor.

The worst-case scenario is a vendor who implements a Zigbee-based distributed heating control system for a UK-style hydronic central heating system that has thermostatic radiator valves for each radiator. In this scenario this system’s components will only link to the Internet and home network using the network bridge supplied by that vendor even though it works on the Zigbee network. But if you introduce a lighting system provided by another vendor that uses Zigbee technology, this system may require the use of another bridge that is supplied by that vendor for network-based lighting control.

Support for gradual system evolution

Also there is the issue of installation woes creeping up when you install or evolve your home-automation system. Some of us like the idea of “starting small” with local control of a few devices, then as funds and needs change, will change towards a larger more-capable system with Internet and mobile-device connectivity. The issue that is raised here is that a vendor could impress upon us to buy and install the network bridge before we start out installing the home-automation devices rather than enrolling the network bridge in to an established control system at a later date. In some cases, you may have to perform a reset operation upon all of the existing components and re-configure you system when you install that network bridge.

This also underscores the situation where a vendor may allow in-place upgrading and integration of a device known to have a long service life like most major appliances, HVAC or building-security devices. This is typically achieved through the use of an expansion module that the user or a technician installs in the device and this device gains the extra functionality. Here, it should be required for the device to be integrated in to the “Internet Of Things” network without you having to reset your network or do other difficult tasks.

To the same extent, one could easily start a system around one or more older devices, yet install newer devices in to the system. For example, you have a UK-style central heating system that is based around an existing boiler that has support for an advanced heating-control system if you choose to have a control module retrofitted to that unit and this module has an LCD touchscreen as its user interface.

You purchase this module and ask the central-heating technician to install it in your boiler so you can save money on your fuel bills. Here, this system uses a room thermostat which you start out with but also can work with thermostatic radiator valves and you buy and attach these valves to the radiators around the house to improve the heating efficiency and these devices work together properly, showing the results on the module’s LCD touchscreen.

Subsequently the boiler reaches the end of its useful life and you replace it with a newer more efficient model that has integrated support for the heating-control system that you implemented but in a newer form. Here, you don’t want to lose the functionality that the room thermostat or the thermostatic radiator valves offered, but want to fully benefit from what the new unit offers such as its inherent support for modulated output.

Needs

Task-focused application-level standards

The needs highlighted here are to implement task-focused application-level standards that work for the purpose of the device and support a simplified installation routine. As well, the role of any bridge device implemented in an “Internet Of Things” setup is to provide a proper application-level bridge between different medium types independent of device vendor.

But what are these task-focused application-level standards? These are IT standards that are focused on what the device does for that class of device rather than the device as being a particular model from a particular vendor. An “Internet Of Things” example would be a smart thermostat that is known to the other devices as a “HVAC thermostat” with attributes like current temperature, setpoint (desired-comfort-level) temperature, setpoint schedules and other comfort-control factors. This makes it easier for other devices to interact with these devices to, for example set up a situation-specific “preferred” room temperature for your heating when you use a particular user-code with your building alarm system or have a weather-forecast service cause the temperature to be adjusted in a manner to suit an upcoming situation.

Some good examples of the application-level standards are the UPnP Device Control Protocols for IP networks, or the Bluetooth application profiles. In one case, the Bluetooth Human Interface Device profile used for the Bluetooth keyboards, mice and remote controls was based on the USB Human Interface Device standards used for these similar devices. This simplified the design of host operating systems to design interoperability with Bluetooth and USB input devices using code that shared the same function.

Ability for a fail-safe network

An issue that is starting to crop up regarding the Internet Of Everything is being sure of a fail-safe network. This is in the form of each device in the network always discovering each other, control devices controlling their targets every time and sensor devices consistently providing up-to-date accurate data to their target devices.As well, a device that has a “standalone” function must be able to perform that function without being dependent on other devices.

Some devices such as smart locks have to he able to perform their essential functionality in a standalone manner if they lose connectivity with the rest of the network. This can easily happen due to a power cut or a network bridge or the Internet router breaking down.

Network bridges that work with multiple non-IP standards

As well, manufacturers could be challenged to design network bridges that work with more than two connection types such as a bridge that links Zigbee and Z-Wave home-automation devices to the one IP network using the one Ethernet connection.

This would include the ability to translate between the different non-IP standards on a task-based level so that each network isn’t its own silo. Rather, each device could expose what it can do to or the data it provides to other devices in the same logical network.

This may come to the fore with the concept of “meshing” which some standards like Zigbee and Z-Wave support. Here, a network can be created with each node being part of a logical mesh so that the nodes carry the signals further or provide a fail-safe transmission path for the signals. The “bridges” could work in a way to create a logical mesh with IP networks and networks that work on other media to use these other paths to create a totally fail-safe path.

Conclusion

It will take a long time for the “Internet Of Everything” to mature to a level playing field as it has taken for desktop and mobile computing to evolve towards to that goal. This will involve a lot of steps and place pressure on device manufacturers to implement these upgrades through the long working life of these devices.

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Noke brings Bluetooth Smart to the common padlock

Noke padlock controlled by a smartphone - press picture courtesy of Fuz Designs

Noke padlock controlled by a smartphone

Article

Bluetooth-powered Noke brings the padlock into the 21st century | Android Authority

This Bluetooth padlock will open for you and whomever you deem worthy | Engadget

This Bluetooth Padlock Doesn’t Need A Key | Tom’s Hardware

From the horse’s mouth

Fuz Designs – Noke Padlock

Kickstarter Page

My Comments

The smart-lock now arrives in another form-factor. This time, it is the padlock which is seen typically as a secondary or auxiliary locking device that ends up on the gate, cupboard door or to tether a bike to a lamp post.

Locking up a bike wiht the Noke padlock - Press photo courtesy Fuz Designs

Useful on a bike here

Here, Fuz Designs have put forward an operational prototype of the Noke padlock that works in a similar vein to the Kwikset Kevo deadbolt. This is where the lock interacts with a digital “key-ring” that is kept on your smartphone to verify that it’s the correct person who is using the device. Both these devices achieve this interaction using the Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth LE technology but they also require you to directly interact with the device before they will open.

In the case of the Noke, which looks like most of the dial-type combination padlocks or some high-end key-driven padlocks, you squeeze on the shackle to release the device once it is verified using your “digital key-ring” in your smartphone. This is similar to touching the bezel on the Kwikset Kevo to unlock the door.

The Noke has the typical smart-lock expectations like the ability to create extra keyholders and share these keys to other peoples’ smartphones, including creating “one-shot” keys which are only used once. This also has logging abilities so you can know who opened the lock when.

Noke Bluetooth padlock on gate - press image courtesy Fuz Designs

This doesn’t look out of place on that gate

The app for this lock has been ported to both the iOS and Android operating systems but would work with devices that have integrated Bluetooth 4.0 abilities and run iOS 7.0, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or newer iterations of these operating systems.

The lock can run for a year on a single watch battery and has a “phone absent” failover where you press down on the shackle in a particular Morse-code sequence that you determine. As well, it can work with most hasps, padbolts and other padlock-based locking devices but Fuz Designs have also supplied a padlock-storage attachment so you can clip this to your bike when you are on your way.

The Noke Bluetooth padlock can open up a product-development path for solving problems that users may run in to when dealing with padlock-based locking systems such as a lock that was intended for a particular application ending up being used on another application. It can also allow for the much-maligned locking-device class to be integrated in to the Internet Of Everything and tie in with building-automation goals.

Fuz Designs are raising the capital to get this product in to mass production by using the Kickstarter crowdfunding method but who knows whether many will pick up on it at a price that is more expensive than the typical padlock. Here, you would have to stump up at least USD$59 to hook this unit on your shed’s hasp and staple or padbolt and effectively link it to Bluetooth..

What I see of this is that it is a highly adventurous design for bringing the smart-lock concept to another form-factor which is totally driven by price. It can also open up these devices towards an innovation pathway,

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Another company links the existing air conditioner to the home network

Articles

Beat the summer heat with the Monolyth smart AC unit | Digital Trends

Crowdfunding-Kampagne für selbstlernenden Klimaanlagen-Regler | Gizmodo.de (German language / Deutsche Sprache)

From the horse’s mouth

Monolyth

Product Page

Indiegogo crowdfunding page

Previous coverage

Tado Cooling brings the smart thermostat concept to the typical air conditioner

My Comments

Monolyth air-conditioner controller controlling a window air-conditioner - press image courtesy of Monolyth

This is how the typical room air-conditioner will be controlled

Another company has followed Tado’s lead in providing “smart-thermostat” and home-network capabilities to the existing room air conditioner. Here, we control a lot of the recently-installed, usually “split-system”, air conditioners using an infra-red remote control and this device, along with Tado’s device mimics the remote controls we use for these units.

Monolyth, who are seeking funding through the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform are providing this device which is a black obelisk box that links to your home network’s Wi-Fi segment to enable control from your mobile device or to benefit from various cloud services that it has. Here, you use your iOS or Android mobile device with the platform-specific app to control your air-conditioner and can use the mobile device’s GPS facility to have the AC unit off when you are away to save power or have it come on just before you arrive to get your premises comfortable by the time you are there.

Air-conditioner remote control

The Monolyth air-conditioner controller works with air-conditioners controlled by these devices

Compared to its peers like the Tado, the Monolyth implements extra sensors to determine the comfort level such as barometric pressure, humidity and air-quality sensors. This also works along with learning weather-forecast data to optimise your air-conditioner’s behaviour to the prevailing weather situation.

Monolyth also promotes the concept of using the one app to manage systems on many properties as well as multiple air-conditioners on the one property as is becoming the typical case for most installations.

What I value of these devices is that manufacturers are adding a level of network-enabled smart-thermostat functionality to the existing installed base of air conditioners, thus allowing us to see the equipment serve us for a longer time. It also satisfies the reality that we don’t “dump” heating or air-conditioning equipment unless it totally fails or becomes hopelessly inefficient and would rather add functionality to the existing equipment using add-on kits.

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The smart-lock arrives in the key-in-knob form factor

Article

Genie Smart Lock Opens Doors with Your Phone | Tom’s Guide

From the horse’s mouth

Genie Smart Lock

Product Page

My Comments

Genie Smart Lock - press image courtesy of Genie

Genie Smart Lock – as a door latch

Most of the “smart-locks” that work with your smartphone, home-automation setup or home network, and are being pitched through the technology press come in the “bore-through” cylindrical deadbolt form. This style of lock typically has the cylinders (in a double-cylinder setup) or outside cylinder and inside turn-knob integrated in a tapered housing with a deadbolt coming out from the door’s edge.

Some of these “smart-locks” are “new-install” types that either are to replace an existing deadbolt and make its keys redundant where as some come as a retrofit kit that is installed in lieu of the turn-knob on an existing single-cylinder deadbolt without making its keys redundant. This is most likely because this form-factor is very popular in North America as a residential front-door lock and most of these “smart-lock” products are designed in that area.

At last someone has offered a highly-capable “smart-lock” that is in a different form-factor i.e. a “key-in-lever” lockset that is intended to replace the main door latch. Locks based on the form factor typically had a locking mechanism integrated in to a door-latch mechanism, typically with a “push-to-lock” button or thumb-turn and access from the outside via a key cylinder integrated in the outside knob or handle.

Here, the Genie Smart Lock works like these “key-in-knob” units but allows you to unlock the door either with your smartphone running a Genie-supplied app, a Bluetooth key fob or the traditional metal key. This setup is installed in that same “bore-through” manner as what is expected for most residential door hardware in America and some other countries. For some people, the usage experience may be very close to the card-driven lock on their room door when they stay at their favourite hotel.

This smart lock will offer the typical “asked-for” functionality with access logging, integration with smartphones and the Wi-FI home network, and the ability to “send” keys to others. But it even runs rings around most other residential and commercial access control setups by providing a display on the front surface that shows more than “success” or “failure” information. Here, this unit shows the current time and temperature and the name of the user who just unlocked that device. Personally I see this feature as an opening for a programmable text or graphics display on these units such “special-occasion-text” or “reminder-text” applications.

What I see of the Genie Smart Lock is a device that brings uncharted territory to the smart-lock device class, whether reaching to another common form factor or adding a programmable display to these devices. But do I still see the smart door lock still become the “tech-head’s” door-accessory-to-have rather than something that most of us can accept as part of the home?

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Honeywell answers the Nest with their own smart thermostat

Articles

The Honeywell Lyric: This Is the Thermostat the Jetsons Would Own | Gizmodo

Honeywell’s Lyric thermostat has the looks and smarts to take on Nest | Engadget

Honeywell Finally Has a Thermostat That Can Compete With Nest | Mashable

From the horse’s mouth

Honeywell

Press Release

Product Page

Lyric microsite

My Comments

The success of the Nest Wi-Fi-connected home thermostat which has the “learning” abilities and the distinctive round shape was bound to bring on an imitator.

Honeywell came up with the Lyric Wi-Fi thermostat which works in a similar manner to the Nest but also capitalises on their round-shaped room thermostat that was popular during the 1950s suburban housing boom.

This unit can work with most central heating and cooling systems offered in most countries where the furnace, heat pump or other equipment is managed via a low-voltage thermostat. It can link to most Wi-Fi-based small networks with a single passphrase for Wi-Fi segment security.

The network connectivity is to allow your iOS or Android smartphone to become a remote control for your heating or air-conditioning as with the Nest.

There is the ability to support GPS-driven “geo-fencing” to have the heating go to the “AWAY” temperature when you are away from your home or start “coming to” your comfort temperature as you get nearer to home, and can also work with multiple smartphone apps to allow all of the hosuehold to benefit from the “geo-fence” functionality. This may also have a limitation with households where there is that risk of one leaving their phone behind as they rush out quickly and could throw the “geo-fencing” functionality a bit. 

It works with the AccuWeather weather-forecast service to optimise the HVAC system to assure consistent humidity no matter which part of the US you are in

The Lyric system supports the ability to set up preset comfort settings for particular situations such as to have stronger heat or cooling and a high fan speed when you host a party for example. There is even a reminder function with the app where you are let known when to change the system filter or to book a service call to keep that furnace behaving properly and safely.

But most of these devices work on their own “app-cessory” island where they only work with a smartphone app developed by the manufacturer. As well, not many of these smart thermostats are optimised to permit advanced control of the more sophisticiated HVAC setups which implement energy-saving behaviours like modulating burners or variable-speed heat pumps.

This will be the way these devices will work until there are application-level “device classes” that permit other member of the smart home ecosystem or “Internet Of Things” to exchange status data with each other.

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Tado Cooling brings the smart thermostat concept to the typical air conditioner

Article

Make your air conditioner modern with Tado’s smart thermostat | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Tado Cooling

Kickstarter Page

My Comments

Air-conditioner remote control

The Tado smart thermostat works as a smart alternative to these air-conditioner remote controls

Most smart thermostats like the Nest thermostat are being pitched at central heating and cooling systems but there are a lot of places where the standalone air-conditioner is seen as a preferred option to heat or cool the home.

Typically these are either in the form of a classic single-piece unit installed through a window or wall or the increasingly-popular “ductless-split” system with an outdoor unit connected to a wall-mounted indoor unit via refrigerant pipes.  But these systems, especially the units pitched at the residential market, aren’t able to be controlled by a thermostat that can be hard-wired in to a central-heating or central-cooling system. Rather they are either controlled using knobs on the device itself in the case of older single-piece systems or an infra-red remote control in the case of most newer systems and the temperature sensor is integrated in these systems.

What Tado Cooling is working on in their current project is a “smart thermostat” that transmits infra-red control signals to remote-controllable air conditioners to have them work to a user-determined schedule or sense when a person has entered or left the room in order to have them not running when no-one’s there. These devices, like the smart thermostats used for central-heating systems, also connect to the home network to allow you to control them (and the air conditioner) from your smartphone or or work the air conditioner to provide cooling just before you arrive while having it off while you are out of the premises.

The capital for the project is being raised through the Kickstarter crowdfunding arrangement with the ability for people to have these controllers at a cheaper price so they can have better control of their air conditioners.

At least it is another way to bring the concept of smart HVAC and the “Internet Of Everything” to the large installed base of ductless-split air conditioners.

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UPnP+ links non-IP devices to wide-area networks

Article

UPnP+ links non-IP devices to wide-area networks | EETasia

My Comments

The recent extension of the UPnP Device Architecture specifications, known as UPnP+ is being worked on at the moment by the UPnP Forum. This is to extend the reach of the UPnP Device Architecture specification sets to satisfy certain new realities.

One key reality is to make UPnP work properly with the “Internet Of Everything” concept. This is where devices are able to interlink with each other and share their information in a manner not dissimilar to the concept associated with the Internet.

It will be achieved with native support for IPv6 across IP networks. This takes advantage of the huge number of addresses this standard offers compared to the legacy IPv4 which most of the Internet works on at the moment.

As well, a SensorBridge Device Class will be defined. This caters for the “bridge” device that links sensors and similar devices that work on non-IP networks with IP-based networks. The article talked of the non-IP wireless-sensor networks as being Zigbee, Z-Wave and ANT which take advantage of low-power low-overhead operation suited for those fields. These devices could be represented by “black-box” devices that stand between an Ethernet or Wi-Fi-based home network and the sensors or controllers such as the Honeywell Evohome Mobile Access Kit, but could also be represented as software integrated in either a router that also has a Zigbee or Z-Wave interface or a smartphone, tablet or laptop with Bluetooth 4.0 Smart interface.

There will also be inherent support for cloud-based “hosted” services to be part of the UPnP ecosystem. Of course, I find that the term “cloud” alludes a lot to services hosted by other parties away from the main home network, typically to provide remote access from smartphones, tablets and other computers connected via the Internet. In the context of “Internet Of Everything”, it could extend to service providers like utilities or monitored-alarm companies using this data to participate in the “Smart home” concept.

I would see this come in to its own with home and other networks that are operating along the line of “Internet Of Everything” and this could be supported with newer devices that have newer UPnP+ firmware in place.

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One of the first smart thermostats now arrives in the UK

Articles

Nest thermostat arrives in the UK ahead of an ‘aggressive’ European expansion | The Verge

Nest’s Learning Thermostat lands in the UK for £179 | Engadget

Nest débarque au Royaume-Uni | 01Net.com (France – French language / Langue française)

From the horse’s mouth

Nest Labs

Product Page

My Comments

Nest Learning Thermostat courtesy of Nest Labs

The Nest Learning Thermostat now can work with that central-heating boiler

Nest Labs have been associated with a room thermostat that is described as the “iPhone of thermostats”. This unit, which was available in the USA for the last few years, connects to your home network and your central-heating system  This also allows for a continual “learning-mode” for its operation and your computer or mobile devices work as extra control surfaces whether through a Web front or a client-side app.

But the UK has a different central-heating-control need especially as most houses use a boiler which heats up water which is pumped to radiator panels located in each room of the house. These systems also heat up the household’s domestic-hot-water supply either through the boiler itself or a heat-exchange tank located upstairs in the house.

A lot of these systems are managed by a time switch located near the boiler as the main control surface and may not have a room thermostat, with the householder overriding or “playing around” with the time switch for the heat to satisfy their comfort requirement. This kind of system has become a challenge for anyone designing a smart thermostat that is intended to work with any residential heating system and I have previously wrote an article about a network-enabled thermostat system targeted specifically at these systems.

Nest have modified this network-capable thermostat to cater for the UK central-heating system by implementing a control module that is connected to the boiler. The thermostat uses a wireless link to control the boiler to provide heat as necessary. At the moment, it doesn’t have the ability to manage the domestic-hot-water function that these heating systems also provide.

It is released now with an installed price of GBP£249 or a “do-it-yourself” price of GBP£179. This has also been the chance for Nest to release their Nest Connect connected smoke/carbon-monoxide alarm which also implements a “dashboard” on your smartphone. As well, Nest releasing their online smart thermostat in to the UK market is the start of them “getting their claws” in to the rest of Europe where most countries their implement this kind of heating system.

Personally it is the sign of a trend where this year could be the availability of smart heating controls for the UK and European markets.

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