You might have heard of or even have a few devices in your home that are “Connected.” You might have a refrigerator that shows you whether Ralph stole that last piece of pie, or a thermostat that lets you warm up the house from your phone before you get home from that big win in Las Vegas. These devices have added much convenience, and even some fun, into our lives; but it becomes easy to take them for granted, without understanding how they’re doing what they’re doing for us. So, what’s really going on behind the scenes, and what does it mean for our health and well-being at home?
When Ralph’s refrigerator was delivered, it had to be connected to the home WiFi. Once that was done, the refrigerator “Phoned Home” like E.T., and established a connection with a server operated or leased by the manufacturer (usually) of the appliance. The refrigerator identifies itself and begins passing data from its various sensors to the server. The owner then downloads an app to their smartphone. The app prompts them to create a new account with the provider, and then add the information for their appliance, either by typing it or scanning a barcode on the appliance label. The server then marries the stream of data coming from the appliance to the owner’s account, and that stream of data can be given useful purpose letting you know to buy more milk or busting Ralph taking that last piece of pie. In its basic form, this is the way nearly all our connected devices provide their additional value to us. These servers, or groups of servers, were called exactly that in past days; now, we simply refer to them as the “Cloud.”
While your health and well-being can certainly be enhanced by your refrigerator, there are many more connected devices contributing to the Internet of Things (IoT) that have a greater effect. In the spectrum of healthier living can be found devices like indoor air quality meters (IAQs.) Just like refrigerators and toasters, IAQ meters come in connected versions. Again, these units communicate with a server, and you connect through that same server to receive the information the meter has for you.
Foobot is an IAQ meter that comes with an app that aims to educate you on the causes and consequences of your activities and how they affect air quality at each of the monitoring locations in your home. It provides you with real-time readings and charts of each pollutant over a period, starting from day one. IAQ meters like Foobot want to help you identify pollution sources and patterns more easily, so you can address them to make your home as pollution free as possible. Some of these units can also share the data they collect with your doctor or whomever you choose. This allows for the statistical analysis of the data that enhances health knowledge in general. This data being made available in this way can aid entire municipalities in tracking air quality problems, and often zero in on the sources.
Nest provides a centralized way to interact with video doorbells, cameras, thermostats, smoke detectors, etc., not just Nest branded, but many Nest compatible. Nest centralizes the functions and features of all these devices, like a mini-Alexa. But then Alexa can cooperate with Nest and roll all those functions up with other Alexa compatible but not Nest compatible products, into a large group of services intended to make your life better. Like before, Alexa is interacting with Nest, which is in turn interacting with its sub-products. The result is that you have a much simpler way to use the devices around your home, and they still do everything they were designed to do.
BPI is not endorsing one product or brand over another; the intent is to explain how the connected devices interact and briefly touch on how they affect our day to day lives.
Next time, we’ll talk about some of the pitfalls associated with your connected home, as well as some specific setups to make it a healthier and more comfortable place to live. For now, my refrigerator wants to talk; something about pie, and I have a bad feeling.