Wednesday, 22 October 2014

can Jibo out predict Nest for the right temperature setting?


Alongside all the sci-fi movies it is interesting to see the march of the real robots.

I'm happy enough about using the little nest heating thermostat that runs on ZigBee and provides extensive sensor based energy management. It is also brilliantly simple to use for something quite sophisticated.

Nest/Google don't advertise its innards, but a quick look via iFixit reveals a Texas Instruments AM3703CUS Sitara ARM Cortex A8 microprocessor, 512 Mb mobile DRAM, a 2 Gb NAND flash memory, an Ember EM357 integrated ZigBee/802.15.4 system-on-chip, a Skyworks 2436L high power 2.4 GHz 802.15.4 front-end module and a TI WL1270B 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support. Instead of a conventional bimetallic strip, this is a full fledged computer.

Of course, it's powerful enough for the current duties, but I'm more interested in the extensions, as it starts to integrate with Jibo and other domestic products.

I can already run the heating, fireplace and some lighting from the simple-looking TV remote. The same Harmony remote also sends an 'at home' signal when it is moved or it senses someone walking around. We've played around with a 5km Geofence too, so that the system knows when we are returning home and can flip itself out of 'away' mode. I'm not so convinced about that one actually.

A mundane and slightly daft test case I've been using is a bin collection reminder, via IFTTT, which sets a notification on Tuesday evening, and also selects the correct bin to be collected. Add 'voice' to the notifications filter them to relevant devices and it starts to get interesting.

At one level this could all be kind of spooky, but at another it is probably the start of the 'beyond smartphones' technology twist.

There's some interesting problems too, as one autonomous system requests service from another. Ask the Jibo to adjust the nest heating. Nest knows better and refuses? Then what? Robot wars?

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