Sensor technology seems to be one of the biggest buzz technologies of late, and companies like DoBots are bringing it to home automation. DoBots is a spinoff of Almende, a research institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. DoBots specializes in artificial intelligence, for robots and home automation alike. I recently spoke to roboticist and COO, Anne van Rossum about through their soon to be shipped product, Crownstone, a home automation device that relies on indoor localization over voice activated commands.
The Crownstone is a Bluetooth low-energy smart power outlet that can be embedded everywhere in a workplace building or household via the power points. While people can use their smartphone or corresponding devices to control their home automation, the technology also enables the building to know where the people are in each room. This means Crownstone can react to your presence by switching on lights and home appliances and in turn, react to your absence by switching off devices of choice, effectively putting powering down much of your home when you are absent in those rooms. Van Rossum describes their product as:
“a first step step to make your home aware of you and your presence. It is able to observe or behavior through how we use devices and allows our home to adapt to our needs. They can function as a very affordable $25 dollar wake-up light, and switch off energy-hungry devices like modems and TVs. However, their AI allows them to also recognize situations. Your grandma who doesn’t come out of bed. Your electrical kettle without water. Your television that gets plugged out at night if you’re not around. Suspicious or dangerous situations that it recognizes because it is able to identify devices and learns your behavior and the behavior of the other people around you.”
The applicability for such technology is apparent in modern workplaces where be used in finding work spots and planning meeting rooms. It is particularly useful in a large office where it can be used to locate staff trained in first aid in an emergency or determine occupancy measures to set up contracts for performance-based cleaning. The Crownstone identifies devices based on their power consumption pattern. It also detects your presence, for example your lights will turn on and off.
The product’s indoor localization technology includes iBeacon functionality. According to van Rossum:
“This enables you to build services on top of it. The device uses robotic technology, specifically a technique called SLAM, (simulataneous localization and mapping). It allows a robot to position itself and build a map of so-called landmarks in its environment. In our case a human is the robot and it uses the Crownstones to pinpoint its location indoors. Moreover, because we use this state of the art method you do not need to tell the system where you have plugged in those Crownstones. By just walking around the location of your smart power outlets is inferred automatically. The system is learning all this on itself”.
DoBots have made Crownstones open source, meaning people can experiment with app development and iBeacon and write their own corresponding apps.