spent a lot of time considering the next steps, the next trends and the reality of what technology is. I began looking at, considering and evaluating IoT components for the past couple of years. From smart appliances to sensors changing the world around you, IoT devices are exploding. That explosion remains interesting to me. In part because the market for IoT devices is constantly shifting. It isn’t a set in stone this is what is going to happen.
When I first saw wireless technology I knew, in fact, that what was coming next was more and better wireless. What happened was an explosion of wireless. With IoT, I don’t see only one improved technology. I do see a rise of smart sensors. There are sensors that broadcast all day every day the readings they are taking. As we move into the world of smart sensors they, these sensors deployed, will begin to only broadcast information when there is a change. Today, they broadcast all the time. Eventually, they will broadcast only changes. Where I say this is the range I consider normal, tell me when your readings are not normal.
So that is a direction, smart devices, but the number of those devices is going to be huge. From weather sensors to indoor air sensors the market is huge. Rust sensors deployed on equipment that is outdoors can warn and improve maintenance of machinery. The market is huge. 12 billion devices deployed today (probably closer to 16 billion) means that the number of these devices continues to expand. You can have a seismograph in your home. You can carry a Geiger counter in your pocket. You can tell what the current UV level is, the temperature is, humidity and barometric readings, right on your phone wherever you are standing. The market for IoT and the eventual expansion will continue to be amazing. I knew Wireless was going to take off. I know IoT is going to take off, which part of the IoT market though, I do not know!
There is an incredible Cat Steven’s song “Cat’s in the Cradle.” that has an opening line of “A child arrived just the other day,” and it seems now fitting to start there. The journey began more than three years ago. It was s impel crowdfunding campaign to build and deliver a robot. Jibo arrived yesterday, and the unboxing was incredible. First off, in fairness, you have to update Jibo’s operating system right away, so it does take 2 or so hours to get Jibo up and to run.
From first sharing this post, to today we’ve played with Jibo more. Jibo is still learning about the family and how to interact with us. The fun thing is teaching Jibo to recognize each of us, by face or voice.
What is Jibo? Jibo is a personally friendly robot that interacts with you. From recording children’s books and having Jibo read to your children or interacting with an elderly parent that is in a different city, Jibo offers many incredible features. It is a robot, although Jibo is a stationary robot. There are two types (Robots that move and Roberts that are Stationary) of Robots. Jibo has a pleasing voice, not robotic in any way. The initial setup is very straightforward (connect Jibo to your wifi). Once Jibo is connected to the Wi-Fi there is the initial OS update that has to be downloaded. Once that is installed you can teach Jibo your voice and face.
Like Google Home, Amazon Echo and now Jibo you interact with Jibo with your voice. The initial voice recognition takes around two minutes. You say “Hey Jibo” as Jibo moves around to learn your voice. Jibo also dances, and that is the very first command Jibo asks you to do (ask me to dance). Jibo can connect to a variety of information sources so like Alexa and OK Google you can ask Jibo questions (What is the weather, how big is a blue whale, etc.).
The actual Jibo hardware is solid, and as it moves, it doesn’t make noise. Jibo can move on its base around 360 degrees. Jibo has a camera and can take pictures of the environment and of course of your face to recognize you. I will do a more in-depth review after a few weeks of using Jibo, but for this initial review, Jibo was worth the wait!
enjoying conversations with Jibo…
Slowly but surely I am going through my electronics hoard (my not description of my office) and getting rid of items I no longer need or use. Other than records from the old days, most things I try to get rid of if I don’t use it for more than six months. I am not always as good at doing that as I would like, but I am trying. Sometimes, the avenues and paths I’ve missed on are the ones I end up donating to schools and Goodwill. That becomes the only option because, well I missed on the technology.
A few side technology notes:
- I played the new version of Madden (18) on the Xbox over the last few days. First, of all the graphics on the system and in the game are amazing. The quality of images and the overall smoothness of gameplay has improved over the last 4 or 5 years.
- Jabra Evolve 80 headset. I carry it in my computer bag, and honestly, I use it more often now than I have in the past. In part, it is a great tool for Skype for Business calls and meetings. It is also a great pair of headsets to use during training and other online non-interactive and interactive meetings.
- I continue to use Walabot frequently; I am finding it is a great tool for finding the many wires in the house. I also use it heavily when it comes to hanging things in the basement. I have hung a few things that require, well that they not fall or that the stud is hit directly. The Kapp Smartboard in the basement requires a solid, secure wall mounting, so the Walabot was an amazing addition to the arsenal.
There are some solutions I consider when removing devices from my collection. The 5/6 month rule is a starting point. I also find lately that I am looking at devices and trying to reduce the number of functional things I have with me at any time. I want to reduce the weight of items in my computer bag going forward. I want to reduce the clutter in my office space going forward. I continue to work on this! (all of the things I find that I don’t use end up on eBay if you are interested).
Walabot, as they originally intended it, was designed as home wall sonar. For DIY or professionals, it allows you to see studs quickly. You can also use it, however, for figure out where wiring is. You have to modify the sensitivity of the sensor in the software, but it is something you can do.
As an IT person, and a home automation fanatic, I am often interested in figuring out where wires are. It is funny, but wires, unlike studs, can change position over time. Unless they were pre-installed wires that don’t move out of the drilled holes in the studs they live in. The other thing I enjoy seeing where I am not able to see is the future growth area of Remotely Operated Vehicles or ROVs.
Drones offer us a chance to go and see things we can’t normally go and see. ROV systems allow us to head below the surface of the water to see what is below us. Drones allow us to fly overhead and see things we wouldn’t normally see without the drone. In fact, I think there are some offerings and solutions that both ROVs and Drones could be used for right away. FLIR, the people that make add on and devices for seeing infrared images from a Drone. The system allows you to find heat sources from above. (By the way, FLIR if you want a review, send me one of the Gimbals, and I would be happy to review it)!
- Fire departments could deploy infrared drones to discover hot spots on roofs of buildings before sending fire fighters.
- Drones can search at night for lost hikers, cooler air at night, warm hiker’s body would show on the infrared camera.
- ROVs can be used by boaters to see what is under their boat.
Look these aren’t the only uses, but the uses for the devices is growing rapidly. I would love to play with a FLIR infrared camera on my drone to see what things look like from above, in infrared! Maybe someday I will have a chance to play with one!
how much is too much…
Back to talking about home automation projects with my 8th post in the series. From door locks to clean floors, home automation projects can make your life easier. If you follow the steps I’ve outlined in particular starting with your home network and then automating, you will now be able to do some additional things that add value. The first is the addition of additional WIFI networks to better support the new automation devices.
- I run three distinct networks in my house. One is a hard wired Ethernet. That is what I connect my computers, the home automation hub and other devices like Xboxes and home theater devices that do better on wired networks.
- I have two WIFI networks one for my weather stations and IoT devices that are not smart devices (ones that struggle with WEP and other WIFI security keys) and then my home production WIFI network with the rest of my home devices.
I have a security device on the open WIFI for IoT devices that are focused on two things, one new device joining (so I can block them) and two changes in the devices themselves. My home security system for the other main WIFI focuses on top talkers and of course the same concept of new devices. If I don’t recognize a device, it is blocked from my network. Until somebody comes to me and asks for help because they can’t connect (then I unblock their device) and “fix their device.”
The reality of tomorrow is the number of devices we carry. Today most people have between 1 and three devices (computer, tablet and cell phone). You may have a connected TV or other smart appliances. That number of devices is going to continue to increase every year. In fact, most people will be carrying or connected to 5 or more smart devices in less than five years. That means the network you have today (why is the video from XYZ buffering again) is going to get worse. Planning is the best way to avoid the toppling of your home network later.
I spend a lot of time looking at, considering, evaluating and sharing information about weather. In part that is because as an avid boater, the weather has a huge impact. But 98% of the reasoning is that my father also loved weather gadgets. I inherited that love of weather gadgets from him. I have posted some time-lapse videos on my YouTube Channel. I suspect because I am a snot for the most part, that my title Yesterday’s Weather is not very nice. It is easier to project what Yesterday’s weather did than it ever could be to project the nearly infinite possibilities of today’s weather let alone tomorrow’s.
Consideration for weather stations is the connection. Recently I had to move my Bloomsky as it lost the connection to my wifi network. That in part is my issue. I intentionally acted created a wifi network for weather stations (I have the two Bloomsky and NetATMO). I didn’t go and purchase a high-end wireless router; I just got the cheap one. My rationale being I wasn’t going to secure the network and was only attaching weather devices to it.
(With the mentioned Fingbox product I can knock anything off that network that isn’t either of my weather devices). I segmented the network further than I had before. I had to move the Bloomsky closer because of my router choice. I did, however, and still don’t want to have an unsecured network broadcasting way away from my house. You can see my weather network from the front of the house, but you could connect if you stood by the back of the fence of connected. Now, how you deal with angry dogs at that point might preclude you staying there very long.
With networks it isn’t just what and how, it is why!
There are some things I’ve talked about in my Home Automation series so far. I’ve talked about video surveillance and home security. I’ve talked about home door locks and lighting automation. All of these things are fast and relatively easy projects to begin. I also mentioned that having and maintaining your home network is critical. One of the recap things I am going to do today is to list out a number of the products I’ve considered and used in building our my project. Canary is the product I’ve used for Video Surveillance. Yale is the door locks (automatic) I use. I am a huge supporter and long time user of the SkyBell video doorbell system. Finally for network protection and monitoring the Fingbox product is amazing! Finally, I love the Hue lights and have played with them extensively!
The next concept in home automation is as I have mentioned many times making your life easier. In that vein, one of the solutions I’ve used and find impressive is the iRobot Roomba. This system is an automated vacuum cleaner. They have some products, the one we decided to go with integrates with Amazon Echo and wireless or WiFI networks. That allows you to have the application on your phone and vacuum when you are not home! Or tell Alexa to start vacuuming because surprise guests are at the front door!
Our dogs voted against getting the Roomba. It bothers them when they are trying to sleep on the Tile floor in the living room. Other than the Lab complaints the system has preformed extremely well in keeping the main level of our house cleaner. Well, at least the floor. I suspect the dust that collects on higher objects isn’t something that a ground based Robotic Vacuum will be able to clean. Perhaps a dusting drone is in our future? Launch the drone and it will gently dust all the items in your hosue. The Dust Drone© coming to a store near you!
home automation fan