Time as a factor, power as a factor in deciding your smart home direction…


That was the clue in Peter Pan that the crocodile was coming. The crocodile in its zeal to well consume more of Captain Hook had swallowed a clock. We could argue that the clock, based on the time involved would have stopped ticking long ago. But it is after all a story.

clip_image002I do suspect that at some point the IoT craze of the day will be embedding clocks into everything. Time is an interesting measurable. We can sift time through our fingers. Eventually with the IoT craze everything will announce the time. You walk by a smoke detector and it will announce the time is 10:42 am. The temperature is 84 degrees F. The air quality inside the house is good. Imagine the cacophony created by infinite IoT clocks. I think back to the only line from the movie Spy Kids I remember. Basically the watch had 100s of features but “it doesn’t tell time.” Time is critical for a number of IoT devices when you think about it. Video, motion and other sensors providing security have to have knowledge of time.

Yesterday I talked about the smart home having arrived. More and more IoT devices embedded in our lives and of course many of them will have a clock. Battery operated so that spring forward and fall back (in the US when we change from Standard time to Daylight savings time). That will make the pilgrimage to the battery store a lot longer. You won’t be buying 16 AA batteries a month it will be 400 a quarter you will need.

clip_image004Then comes the IoT argument around power and power sources. Do I leave devices connected in the smart home so that they have trickle power all day? If I have Solar I don’t care quite as much but still the devices as they improve will also need to have smart batteries. Don’t stay connected all day, when the battery is full run off the battery. Suddenly IoT becomes even bigger and the complexity of a smart home becomes even greater. It isn’t just the devices you deploy its their capabilities. Yesterday in my smart home blog I offered four initial projects for home automation that are critical and ultimately should work together to improve the lives of those that live in your home.

clip_image006What are the capabilities I need deployed in my smart phone. 100 devices that chime on the hour every hour isn’t the answer. First off because unless they are connected to power they will burn their batteries. Second because unless you are Doc Brown (from Back to the Future) no one likes hearing 100 clocks chiming in unison.

In building a complex system that has the capabilities you need the initial discussion will be simply what should be connected to power and what needs to run off batteries. As I said it makes spring forward and fall back a little longer in that you will have to replace batteries in many more devices than previously. The other is the concept initially of a central time service. Back when I used to deploy mail systems the first thing we did was make sure the customer has access to a central time server. They broadcast over the Internet from the various atomic clocks owned by various governments. So a central time server in the home system is critical. Having a framework of plug in versus battery is also important. The easy model for this is consumption. Devices that chew through batteries should be plugged in. Those that sip power over time don’t have to be plugged in they can run on batteries.

· Decision point 1: Do I need a clock in the device or will it connect to my central time service in my smart home?

· Decision point 2: How much power does it consume in a day, week or month? I.e. should I plug it in or can it run for a long time on a battery?


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow)

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