An important part of home automation is automation. The system must be able to automatically react to you and to changes in its environment without your direct control. In order to make better decisions, the automation system needs access to lots of data, for example, the location of the people in the building, location relative the building, the current weather forecast, historical weather information, or current energy costs.
Hans Scharler, of ioBridge, set out to make his thermostat aware of his location and the weather forecast. His project started off simple – adjust the thermostat as he leaves and when he returns. His real goals were to return to a comfortable house despite his schedule and to save money.
Scharler has lots to say about the matter…
A preset heating/cooling schedule only works when you are on schedule. What if you come home late? You have been wasting energy. What if you come home early? You might find a cold house.
Hans taps into location and weather data via an Application Programming Interface (API). He tracks his location using the Google Latitude service on his mobile phone and reads in the weather forecast from WeatherBug. Based on his position and the current weather, the system automatically sets his thermostat which is connected to his web application by the ioBridge IO-204. The IO-204 sits on your home network and what ever is connected to the IO-204 now has access to the web and any of the ioBridge web services.
What’s next for this project? How about multi-person tracking? How about a coffee pot controlled by location? How about an office building regulating its power use considering only the location of its employees!?
ioBridge will incorporate location-awareness as a Plug In to the web services. You will be able to drop in Google Latitude connectivity native to the ioBridge platform. Other APIs that you have access to are Yahoo Financials, Google Calculator, WeatherBug, Weather.com, Google Weather, NOAA, Digg (although the API access is broken at the time), and Twitter. The ioBridge Plug In feature will allow you to connect to any API, even ones that are not prepackaged for you. With access to so much information, plus the ability to monitor and control devices, who knows what you will come up with. We were able to make a real-life Digg counter in about 10 minutes. Stay tuned.
Hans has all of the project code on his web site and details on how he linked the Google Latitude, WeatherBug, and ioBridge APIs together to create his location-aware thermostat.