Saturday, June 13, 2015

Signal Idea

How many times have you forgotten about your washer finishing and only to remember a day or two later. Now you have to re-wash your laundry because it is getting a bit funky smelling. What about burning your baked goods in the oven, or the refrigerator alarm is going off with no one to hear it because the door was left open.

In today's connected world we expect we can do just about anything on our pocket computers that can also be used as phones. But for some reason most appliances (very few actually) can be online and communicate with you. There needs to be an easy to install solution that will get your appliances to talk to you wherever you are.

Introducing my idea "Signal". A small, battery powered, WiFi device that will listen to your appliances beeps and boops then alert you when it hears them.

All of our appliances have tones they produce for notification and alarms. When you are too far away, too busy with something else, or maybe not even at home you can still get notified by your appliance without having to connect to them in anyway.

The device
Would be a small device not much larger than a box of matches. Would hold say 2 AAA batteries or maybe AA batteries. I don't believe in sealed batteries where the device has to be replaced when the batteries are exhausted. This makes no environmental sense and is a waste. Plus it makes it more expensive to the consumer. The device would have a small computer, microphone, single button, an LED, and would be water resistant. Only activating WiFi when sending a notification the battery life should be very long.

The Setup
To get the device connected to your network you need the Signal app (free) and when you first turn it on or hold down the button for 5 seconds it will broadcast out a WiFi signal that your phone can connect to and configure. The light will blink slowly while you are setting it up. Put in your WiFi info and save it. Now your set. Name the device and put in a location. It is now attached to your account. Very similar to a ChromeCast setup.

Next is the recording the sound. Hold the single button on the device for a few seconds and play the sound you want the device to listen for. A light will blink rapidly telling you it hears the sounds and is recording it. Press the button when the sound is done playing. Now using the phone app name the appliance it just heard. Have that appliance make the same sound again and it should notify your app.

Great that's it! Your all setup. The online account that everything connects to is free for life. You can pay for a premium account that will let you create advanced notifications, batch actions as well as schedules etc. Batch actions would be like notifying multiple people and also allowing a computer program to be notified that would launch actions. Say for example control your home automation and turn on lights when your oven goes off.

Here is how it works. Lets take the example of your washing machine...
Imagine you are in the living room watching your favorite TV show and your laundry finishes. The machine will beep but you don't hear it. Your phone's Signal app gets a notification that the laundry is done. You can snooze the reminder so you can finish your show. If you don't have the app no problem it can send emails and SMS.

Lets say you are really bad about changing laundry. You can configure this particular alert to keep bugging you every hour until you press the button on the Signal box. When you go to change the laundry you can press the button to clear the notification, the light will blink 3 times quickly letting you know it's cleared.

Another example, the oven...
Most ovens are pretty loud when they beep but there are times when at my house with screaming kids, a loud TV (to drown out the screaming kids) makes it impossible to hear. So now your phone gets notified. You can even set it up to keep notifying you until you press the button on the Signal box. This way you don't have burned cookies. There is even the ability to customize the notifications to use different sounds for different appliances.

Other concepts that can integrate
- Alarms for detecting water/floods
- Motion detectors
- Alarms for low/high temperatures
- Contact sensors for an open door, gate, cabinet, etc
- Even reminder buttons say by the trash can. When the trash is full press the button and your husband "me" gets notified to take out the trash.

The list is endless. Just a simple Signal box that attaches to your account and you can have the Internet of Things help your house talk to you.

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