A Crop of temp sensors ready to ship!
The flyer campaign is in full force and we’ve gotten great response from it. People have heard of their smart meter, and they’ve been wondering if there is a free and easy way to get access to this information. HouseLynx sign-up process has automated 90% of the difficult and cumbersome process required to get this information. A user can come to HouseLynx with flyer in hand and have the information in 2-4 minutes!
This is HouseLynx running on a mobile browser (dolphin browser)! It’s on my HTC EVO 4G… I’ve been working on making the website mobile friendly, however this doesn’t mean we aren’t working on native apps. We have the iPhone and Android apps in the works now, and plan to do tablet specific apps as well.
The buzz over the android@home announcement has been non-stop over the past 24 hours. I’m blowing up on Skype, Twitter, email, and even some phone calls from friends and peers in the industry over what to think about the move by the tech giant.
First, full disclosure about where I’m coming from. I’m the co-founder of a start-up in the home automation and energy management space. As such, we’ve been looking closely at the industry and all the key players and stakeholders for about 2 years now. Our model is similar to Square, in that we make some simple hardware, give it away for free or cheap, and gain revenue through servicing that hardware with Software.
I can’t blame Google at all for this play, it’s an obvious growth sector over the next decade, and a huge opportunity for everyone who is in right now. However, the devil’s in the details as they say. Let’s take a look at their vision for the future.
Google envisions a world where an Android device runs a home management system. In the Google world, 3rd parties will build hardware (lights, motion sensors, thermostats, etc) specifically to integrate with the android@home network. These devices connect to the Android tablet, which must include a new chip in them for this communication. The Android tablet connects back to the internet over the users already existing wi-fi or over cellular. Google handles all the in-home network issues relating to connecting to the end devices, assigning ip addresses, handling packet loss, reboots, etc. etc. etc. etc. (lots of etcs.) Now a developer can write an app to work with this hardware through a simple android sdk update that includes the api for the new chip that will run on the tablet.
So Google is creating a closed technology here. They get to stand up and call it “open” because they will open source the code that runs the hardware. However, the hardware will run on a Google-only network, which makes this just as closed as Apple in my opinion. I’m not saying that it’s wrong, I’m just calling it like I see it.
My hesitations with jumping on board with this are many.
1). Who do I buy chips from and how much are we talking?
2). Can I secure my end devices from being sniped by another app provider (basically can I continue our business model of SaaS, or will any Android@home app be able to gain access to my hardware?)
3). Will you open up Google PowerMeter to go along with this, or will the “No API” stance remain?
4). How many resources are being dedicated to this? This is a large undertaking, and it’s hard for me to see this coming to fruition in less than 2 years because of the hardware requirements and the challenging problem of building a reliable in-home management program complete with robust security, server-side backend, in-home network reliability etc.
For now, we will continue to build on the Digi solution. They have been at this problem for years, and have a great platform for mesh networks. However, they do charge us money…
I really like Cambodia this time of year.