Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My First Robot and The Internet Of Things

I love my robot.  Yes, I own a robot and I'm proud of it.  Granted, many of you have owned one before me and know why robots are great but many others do not yet have the joy of a robot.

I bought a Roomba 870 recently as part of a special offer I received from Roomba through Bzzagent. I have wanted a Roomba for some time but Roomba's are expensive and I wasn't sure it was worth it.  When this discounted offer came up, I thought I had to try it and I'm glad I did.

I have 4 kids under the age of 12 and they are messy.  We kept buying quick sweepers for the kitchen cleanup so I thought a Roomba would make the job easier.  It did, but it does more than I expected cleaning the whole downstairs.  It cleans every day on schedule and only complains when it is full or stuck (I have a chair that it can get under but not out but otherwise this thing can't get stuck!).  I am somewhat scared by the amount of dirt it seems to capture every day but I guess that is the life of 4 kids and 10 friends coming and going all day.

The Internet Of Things
A robot vacuuming is cool and makes my life easier but that is just the beginning of where we are headed.  I also have a NEST thermostat which I love for so many reasons.  The most important is that it is so easy even my wife and kids can use it.  I love it because I can change the temperature in the house from my phone, laptop, tablet, or God forbid even at the thermostat itself...  This is a great feature especially when heading home from a trip.  I open the app and cool the house down (or warm it up on the few cold Florida days) before we get home.

I also recently bought a DropCam which is a video camera that is connected to the internet. This camera allows me to see the 2 playrooms upstairs and talk to my kids from my phone, tablet, or pc (God forbid I have to walk upstairs...) whether I'm in the house or on a trip.

Recently, I took a trip to Disney world and set my NEST thermostat to "away" which keeps the house from going over 86 degrees but stays off otherwise.  About 1 hour after I left home, I got a very disconcerting alert while I was in the car.  "MOTION DETECTED UPSTAIRS".  $#*!.  Ok, probably a false alarm. Nope, 5 minutes later, again, and again. So I opened the app to see what was going on. I couldn't see anyone in the house but something had to be wrong because I never got these alerts before.  Then it hit me.  I never got the alerts before because I never set NEST to AWAY before.  Yes, I had connected NEST to Dropcam and since I was "away" Dropcam automatically put itself into away mode and started sending me alerts.  That's when I noticed there was a half filled helium balloon that was moving ever so slightly.

This is the "Internet of Things" where things work together intelligently.  Some of the applications today are not too practical but we are headed for a time where we will have all sorts of new conveniences due to the connected state of our world.

I also have the WEMO light switches which are connected to the internet allowing me to turn off lights anywhere in the house.  One comes on automatically with motion.  Using IFTTT (If This, Then That), I can program these devices to come on automatically at different times when I set my NEST to away or at specific times for any number of reasons.

I imagine a day when Roomba knows when we leave the house and automatically starts cleaning.  Perhaps when I lock my doors using my internet connected locks.

Get ready, the internet of things is coming. Some things are ready and are worth your investment now (I recommend all of the above!).  Mostly, however, we are in the hype cycle where the hype outweighs the reality so be careful in what you buy or invest in.

Now if I could just get my VCR light to stop blinking...

Until then, I will continue to have fun scaring my wife and kids by turning off lights when they are in the house while I'm traveling.  And of course, keeping my air conditioning bill down by adjusting the thermostat to a higher temperature when I'm traveling even though they are home.  After all, the temperature being too hot can't be my fault if I'm not home to adjust it, right...?

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