Platform Updates and New Humidity Sensor

The ioBridge team has been working a new set of updates for the ioBridge web gateway modules and the platform. We have added new features to both the IO-204 and the IO-204-PRO modules. We received a lot of requests for a native humidity sensor and it’s ready to go.

Humidity Sensor from ioBridge

You can upgrade your modules over-the-web, by signing into the ioBridge.com Interface and selecting your module, then by clicking Details and Upgrade.

Here’s an overview of the new features:

  • New Firmware – The new firmware adds support for a new variable space for 32-bit values and onboard set points. Other enhancements include wider support for network configurations such as ATM and Mobile Data Networks. We also added watch-dog timers in the event of module lockups.
  • Variable Value Widget – Now you can control the variable value on your module. This means you can send values from a web service down to your module and use that value in your on-board rules. For eaxample, you could make a thermostat based on WeatherBug’s reported temperature.
  • Widget Customizations – You can now change the hover label for chart widgets and the scaling on the analog gauge widgets. The Widget ID / Key is now prominently displayed on the widget editor. Chart widget times now display the users local time.
  • Set Points – You can now compare input values to Variable Value 2 and create set points that can be changed.
  • Additions to the Module Interface – You can now directly set the variable values from the interface. We have also added listeners for both sides of serial smart board traffic.
  • HTTP POST Actions – This new feature allows you can send a custom HTTP POST as a server-side action. The new feature supports Basic Auth and the ability to customize a POST to any external service.
  • Custom X10 Widget – Originally we supported X10 outlets through our web service. With this update, you can send custom X10 commands to support other X10 devices like thermostats.
  • Data Feed API v2 – Updated the Data Feed API for the IO-204 and IO-204-PRO includes SSL support and a RESTful interface.

We look forward to seeing what you create with the new features. If any issues or questions arise, check our Wiki or feel free to contact us.

Weather and Location-based Home Automation

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.

Google Latitude ioBridge Mashup

Location Aware Home Automation

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.

For other coverage of this project, visit ReadWriteWeb, and MIT’s Technology Review.

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.

HVAC Control and Power Monitoring Project

Thomas W. Lewis produced two excellent projects to remotely control his HVAC system and monitor his home power usage.

He wanted to turn off his HVAC system completely before leaving for an extended period of time, like going on vacation, and then turn it back on just before he gets to his house. Thomas found the controls wires on the thermostat and uses a relay to turn on or off the thermostat. He made it remote controllable with the ioBridge IO-204 module and control widgets placed on a mobile phone.

HVAC and Thermostat Control with the ioBridge IO-204

HVAC and Thermostat Control with the ioBridge IO-204

In additional to remotely being able to shut down his HVAC system, Thomas also monitors his temperature and whole house power using the analog inputs of the IO-204. He used AC clamps around the house power mains to get a power utilization relative to the current through the wires.

Power Monitoring for the Whole House

Power Monitoring for the Whole House

More details and photos are available on Thomas’ Smart Grid section of his blog.