Connected conversations start here.
Electronic Design featured a great article that hit home for our team (pun intended). “Is It Time For Home Automation To Go Mass Market?” has spawned some great internal conversations here at Altia. In it, author Ross Sabolcik extols the beauty of tech-laden homes but notes that “home automation still seems relegated to the ranks of enthusiasts or high-end homes”. Included in this arena are lighting and AV, security, fire and life safety (fire suppression, smoke or C02), environmental (HVAC or climate), and networking (telephony and data). The growing focus is on energy management and savings: commonly referred to the Smart Grid.
And while the various components are developing separately, it is the consolidation and integration of the various systems that will see growth in coming years: a single platform for all ‘connected home’ components.
While we won’t claim to be gurus of the home automation or smart grid space, we’re no spring chickens when it comes to the user interface side of things. We see a natural progression towards high-end touchscreen LCD panels to manage all of your ‘wired’ systems. And of course we’re working with companies right now who are tackling this exact challenge.
On our blog this week, we’ll do a few posts dedicated to this topic. Specifically: questions and ideas that have come up related to home automation as well as this growing area of ‘Smart Grid’…using technology to manage resources. Clearly a hot topic given the state of the economy.
So here are a few questions that have come up related to the article and topic. Today: a few thoughts on Smart Grid and resource management.
- The Smart Grid initiative is focused primarily on management of electricity. Would you use a Smart wireless device that gave you real-time ability to manage your daily energy usage and saved money on your energy bills?
- The stakes for the US economy are huge and increasingly a matter of national security — dependence on foreign oil, skyrocketing oil and gas costs, wealth transfer to the oil importers and effects of climate change.
- The perpetually-soaring utility bills gives every consumer motivation to cut their usage 10%+ … just to stay even with where they were last year. Visibility into the electric usage in most cases is an unknown until the consumer receives the bill …with no understanding of where their kWh are going.
- Today’s homeowner is also faced with skyrocketing heating costs. Homeowners in the Northeast are facing $3.00+ oil this winter. If a smart device knew gallons available and used from the tank, weather projections for the next 14 days, and an energy coefficient for the residence (what the oil companies do with automatic fill), it could make simple usage calculations for the next 14 days based on the homeowner’s thermostat settings. Would the average homeowner spend 5 minutes optimizing the Smart device thermostat settings to get another 2 to 3 days out of their tank of oil and cut their oil usage by 10%?
What do you think? Would you use a smart grid panel in your home? Do you currently have any ‘home automation’ installed? Leave comments below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
If Altia had parents, they’d be so proud of us right now. Celebrate Technology has named Altia the winner of the 2010 Information and Communication Technology Company of the year.
Each year, Celebrate Technology honors companies in the Colorado Springs area in several categories related to technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation. In the past, the award has recognized companies in biotech, web/internet and e-commerce, defense and security, and aerospace.
A neighbor of ours won last year: Bluefolder whose offices are literally just down the hall, won the 2009 Richard Petritz Rising Star Award at the Celebrate Technology awards ceremony. The north end of the second floor of this building is good luck, I guess.
For our official press release, you can read it here.
From January 10th
“After a whirlwind 48 hours, I made it back safely, tucked into the serenity of my winter abode in Colorado Springs. A profoundly provincial and somewhat mundane life compared to the hectic world of CES in Las Vegas. Two days there feels like a weeks. After the second and final day , here’s my summary.
Yes, tablets and 3D TVs were everywhere, and ironically, the most boring part of the show. I was more fascinated with the quirky and creative. My absolute favorite was Mattel’s Hot Wheels car complete with a tiny camera in the windshield and thumbnail sized, full color LCD display underneath. Mattel also had a cool game that measured brainwave activity and moved a ball back and forth on a track depending on how hard you concentrated. A few decades ago this was million dollar technology. Now it’s a $59 toy.
As far as favorites, the kitchen appliances came in at a close second to the toys. Like smart phones, appliances with large color displays have finally hit the useful stage. Helpful, attractive touch screens replace the myriad of confusing knobs and buttons. My favorite, the Kenmore Elite washing machine. It was quite responsive, attractive and easy to use. Well done.
“Connected” was the buzz word of the show. Ovens that text you when dinner is done. Security systems that you can set from your phone. Cars that tell you everything you need to know about your vehicle, surroundings, traffic and other cars. Speaking of cars. Displays and touch screens in the car have hit the big time. Instrument clusters, infotainment, rear seat entertainment, passenger multifunction displays. Very soon, physical components and moving parts will be a thing of the past – and not just in luxury cars. From Jaguar XJ to the Ford Fiesta, everyone is getting a piece of glass.
All in all, it was a fruitful way to spend 2 days. And unlike recent years, CES 2011 was a nice, upbeat way to start the year.”
From January 7th:
Time to swing by the Kenmore booth and check out some of our handy work.
Beauty in action. Check out the new Kenmore line of washers and dryers. Coming soon! I wonder how that lime green will look in my house…
Engadget had a great write up about Kenmore’s connected line of products.
“all of which will be able to be controlled via a “smartphone or smart tablet” (Apple and Android devices were specifically mentioned as getting a free app), or via a large touchscreen on the device itself … What’s more, the appliances all boast Kenmore Connect, which allows for remote diagnostics that can be used to prepare technicians for in-home repairs, and they pack an array of energy management features that will let you conserve energy and keep watch on how much you’re using”
Tomorrow: my final thoughts on the show. Overall impressions. Interesting trends. How Altia fits. Ciao for now.
From January 7th:
It’s official: they’ll put a touchscreen on anything. Thursday was all meetings so I didn’t get much time to walk the floor. But I did come across this little gem of a machine with a color display that paints fingernails. It even snaps photos and will transfer them to your nails. Oh my.
I ran by the Ford booths — both inside and outside in the courtyard. Fiesta was front and center in both cases. The “connected car” theme and infotainment were clearly the focal point the car. I think we are on the right track. (To read how Altia partner Visteon used Altia’s tools in the Ford Fiesta, click here)
The entire venue was packed. Taxi lines around the block. I think CES is back with a vengeance. Visitors from China seem to dominate the crowd. Today I have more meetings but should get a few hours to walk the floor and take some more snapshots of interesting display GUIs… or at the very least, an Elvis impersonator.
From January 6th:
“We’re off to CES in Vegas for a couple days. Paul de Curnou (one of our salesmen) and myself will join the throngs. Parting words from my beautiful wife, ‘Don’t be fooled, what happens in Vegas eventually gets back to me.’
First impression: 45 minute wait at the Las Vegas airport taxi stand. It felt like I was waiting for a Disney ride the way the queue ran through a maze with no visible end in sight. But the line was moving and the arrivees were in good spirits. People are pouring in from around the world. There’s a nice mix of American, Asian and European visitors. The weather is perfect for such an event. 50 degrees. The sky is blue and the mountains are gorgeous. There should be no excuse to get around and see all the action. Next stop: registration at the convention center.”
Part 2 coming soon.
An article in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal featured some cool technology from a few of the major producers of residential washers and dryers. Newer generations of laundry appliances utilize high-end LCD touchscreen interfaces to control their myriad of features, cycles, and options. We have several similar projects we’re working on right now.
The article showcases products from Whirlpool, Bosch, Sears, LG, Kenmore, and GE. And at upwards of $4,000 a pair, some of the appliances provide some amazing technology. A few cool features mentioned:
-Our favorite: the latest generation of appliances feature LCD touch screen displays that make controlling the appliance easy. Closer to a smartphone than washers of old. Click here to see some examples of Altia technology embedded in washers and dryers. (Click on Demos)
-One product includes a feature “that allows consumers to do small loads of laundry overnight and have them ready by morning.”
-GE’s Steam Washer can remove so much moisture they are “ready to wear without putting in the dryer.” Genius.
We’ve got an exciting webinar on the calendar! Our CEO, Mike Juran, will be revealing the lessons he has learned for getting high-impact HMIs into production embedded devices…profitably. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, November 16th from 12:00 -12:30 PM Mountain Standard Time. Click here to register.
For the last twenty years, Mike has helped HMI innovators develop embedded HMIs for their products. Whether your company is new to embedded touch screen development or you’re on your second, third or fourth generation embedded display, this presentation will surely be worthwhile.
Space is limited, so make sure to register soon!