Smart Doesn’t Always Mean an Easy Home

When the possibility of creating smart homes first became a feasible task, it turned out to be more complicated than originally anticipated. Since then, the technology has improved with more accurate sensors and voice control abilities, making it much easier to create and operate a smart home. We haven’t quite reached perfection in terms of interoperability, but smart technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) are on pace to become universally accepted home solutions.

Smart technology is invading many households in the form of various appliances and devices, all connected to the internet. The purpose of this is to provide home owners with the ability to control devices from the comfort of their phones. Adam Justice, Vice President of Grid Connect, talks about how smart tech can ease the pain of household problems, “It solves the problem of my wife and I both being in bed and arguing over who is going to get up to turn out the lights. So you could say it solves marital problems.” Even though this is a very simple example of how IoT devices can help with home control, there are much larger and more powerful automations that can be accessed.

The rewarding feeling of being able to control a device with the touch of a button, or with voice control, does not stop at single device automation. The ability to create “scenes” allows users to command multiple devices with the use of a single voice command. Establishing scenes will make home automation so much more simple, while simultaneously improving the convenience of the installed tech.  

The ability to control both individual devices and networks of devices with a single voice command is just one of the many great features of smart technology. That being said, things can get a bit complicated when it comes to getting devices from different manufacturers to operate in a system together. There are various companies such as trying to solve the issue of interoperability, but Apple’s HomeKit and Amazon’s Echo are at the forefront of the innovation. HomeKit is the distinguished frontrunner because it is extremely easy to setup and allows users to control an assortment of devices from a single app.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/10/realestate/smart-doesnt-always-mean-an-easy-home.html?_r=1

IoT Design Considerations: Antenna

Most IoT products use wireless technologies to connect with the world. The type and number of wireless technologies used will impact the type and number of antennas needed. For example, 900MHz, 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios all may have different requirements for antenna design.

Module manufacturers often provide multiple options in this area, such as an on-board chip or ceramic antennas. They may also offer a wire (or “whip”) antenna, a “trace” antenna, or a “pin-out” so the manufacturer can add their own (either internal or external connector elsewhere on the circuit board).

In addition, manufacturers may offer U.FL (also called IPEX) connectors for external. In this case, the connection from the U.FL connector to the external antenna is accomplished with a short coaxial “pigtail” that has the mating U.FL connector on one end and the mating connector for the antenna on the other end. The costs of the pigtail and antenna are often overlooked but need to be included in a manufacturer’s BOM for their designs.

When selecting between internal and external antennas, designers must consider the material (metal, plastic, etc.) of the housing and the potential placement of the product within a home or business. If a product is placed behind a couch or under a desk, it may have difficulty getting a wireless signal from the nearest gateway, access point, or router. Metal housings almost always require an external antenna design because the metal in the housing greatly reduces the amount of radio frequencies getting in or out of the housing.

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.

 

Grid Connect Introduces ConnectSense Handset Telephone with Ten-Number Memory Dial to the Smart Home Space

NAPERVILLE, IL--(Apr 1, 2015) - A new easy-to-use telephone with ten number memory dial is now available for pre-order from Grid Connect. The ConnectSense Telephone features nine speed dial memory buttons that enable users to call frequently used numbers and a redial function to quickly dial the last outgoing number.

This reliable and affordable telephone is designed for those who want to avoid hassles and frills of smartphone technology and cordless handsets.

The ConnectSense Telephone can be placed on any convenient surface or mounted on the wall to save table space. This surface or wall mounting option provides quick and powerful access to make or receive calls in one room of your home. With its simple, corded design, users will never have to worry about misplacing their handset anywhere throughout their house.

Other features that make the ConnectSense Telephone unique include:

  • No need for Wi-Fi set up or programming of notification and call ringtones.
  • Plugs directly into your wall so there is no need for users to charge their ConnectSense Telephone before use.
  • Ten-number memory dial so users can quickly call frequently and recently used phone numbers.
  • Illuminated keypad with push button technology for use in darkly lit rooms of the house.
  • Ringer and handset volume control for personalized, user loudness customization.
  • No Caller ID means no need to stress about who is calling.
  • Mute button so users can silence their side of the conversation while in noisy rooms or while ridiculing the other party under their breath.

The ConnectSense Telephone is available now for pre-order at www.connectsense.com/telephone and will ship in the third quarter of 2015. Priced at $8.99, the ConnectSense Telephone offers tremendous value compared to smartphones and cordless home handsets, as it includes a cord.

 

About Grid Connect 

Grid Connect (www.GridConnect.com), an ISO 9001:2008 company, is a leading manufacturer and distributor of products that enable the Internet of Things, including the ConnectSense line of wireless sensors. Grid Connect can be found on Twitter @GridConnect and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/grid-connect. ConnectSense can be found at www.ConnectSense.com and on Twitter @ConnectSense

 

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How to Prevent Freezing Pipes this Winter

frozen pipes

When the temperature drops and pipes freeze, the result can be disastrous.  A 1/8th inch crack in a pipe can leak up to 250 gallons of water a day! Leaks like this can result in flooding, major structural damage to your home and leave you at a huge risk for mold.  According to State Farm, the average cost of a claim for broken pipes due to freezing is $15,000.  Pipes that burst when no one is home are much more devastating. When the basement and other areas of the home unknowingly flood, costs in damage can rise to as much as $70,000.

Traditionally, people try and prevent pipes from freezing by leaving cabinets open and letting the water run from their faucets at a slow trickle.  Neither of these methods are foolproof or ideal.  

Leaving the cabinets open in some homes is fine, but for parents of small children (like myself), it poses a huge risk.  There are cleaners and other toxic substances inside of my kitchen cabinets that I would not want my kids to gain possession of out of concern for their health.

He may be cute... but he gets into everything!

He may be cute... but he gets into everything!

Leaving the water running does not always prevent frozen pipes and can be a costly decision. A quick check of the USGS Water calculator shows that 2 faucets left running at a trickle will waste 22 gallons of water or more per day.  After a few weeks of cold weather, the cost to your water bill is sure to add up.

temperature sensor

The ConnectSense wireless Temperature Sensor is a better solution for preventing frozen pipes in your home. This sensor can monitor the temperature of your pipes and alert you only when the temperature gets low enough and you should take action. This eliminates the need to waste water or leave cabinets open unnecessarily.

I set up my own wireless Temperature Sensor in my home last year as the temperature started to drop into the teens on a regular basis.  I am always particularly concerned about the sink in my kitchen since it is right on an outside wall.  If underneath your sink is anything like mine, there are no open power sockets to plug into, so ConnectSense's long-lasting battery power works perfectly for this application.  I set my sensor to record at every hour, as I felt that would be satisfactory for catching any drops in temperature.  If you are concerned about rapidly dropping temperatures, you can set the sensor to record the temperature even more regularly, but note that it will drain the batteries in the unit faster.

I then set up my rules in the ConnectSense cloud application for my wireless temperature sensor.

ConnectSense rules

First I created a rule to send a text message to both my wife and me if the temperature drops below 40°.  Should it get that low, we would take some of the traditional precautions of running the water, wrapping the pipes, or opening the cabinets.  The nice part about having this alert is that none of those methods are necessary until the temperature actually gets to that point.  This allows us to save money by not running the water and not have the hassle of having the cabinets open.

The second rule I created for the more urgent scenario is a rule that would result in a phone call to my wife and me should the temperature below the sink drop below 35°.  This would be close to freezing temperatures, and immediate action would be needed.  Having the phone call option for notification is also particularly important because a text message would likely not wake either of us while sleeping, while a phone call would.

water sensor

For added protection, I also installed a ConnectSense Water Sensor under my sink.  In the event of a leak or flood from a burt pipe, I will receive a phone call so I can deal with the water before it becomes a huge problem.  

After a few days of having the wireless Temperature Sensor installed under my sink, I can attest that it definitely gave me the peace of mind to not worry about having my pipes burst while I am at work or away from the house.  Checking the data, I saw that even when it was around 0° outside, I could easily monitor the temperature under our sink and make sure our our pipes—and our home—were not in danger.