Luminodes Pass UL Endurance Test!

It’s the end of my third day at UL this week and what a long day it has been! After a few disagreements with the robot that turned six of the Luminodes on and off 10,000 times, it finally got the job done and the Luminodes have now officially passed both the incandescent bulb endurance and overload tests!

UL still has more tests to run but so far the Luminodes are working like champs! We could have incandescent bulb temperature test results by end of day tomorrow or beginning of the day Friday. Meanwhile UL is running all sorts of other small (and some weird) tests all of which we are passing!

I’m hopeful that we still could have incandescent approval by the end of this week, but LED bulb approval is looking like it may take a little longer. On the plus side, incandescent bulb approval would be sufficient to go into production even if official LED approval comes later.

As always thank you for your patience and support! We are finally getting really really close!

- Team Think Automatic

PS – Here is a shot of a bunch of front-side-down Luminodes waiting to be put through their various tests…

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Luminodes Pass UL Overload Test! Endurance Test Still Running…

I’m here at UL getting started on day two of a full week of Luminode testing. Yesterday the Luminode passed the overload testing and the endurance test is currently running in which six Luminode samples are turned on and off 10,000 times! That test will likely take until early tomorrow morning to complete, but meanwhile we will be conducting some of the many other tests that still need to be run. To keep current on our progress please follow us on Twitter.

Luminodes could be UL approved very soon!

- Steve of Team Think Automatic

Luminode UL Testing to be Completed by Labor Day!

The Luminode is scheduled with UL for approval testing for the last week in August. If all goes well we will have UL approval less than three weeks from now!

Although this has been a very long time coming, in many ways it is just the beginning. We couldn’t be more excited at the prospect of finally getting both the Luminodes and our cutting edge learning system out into the world and into your hands!

For a taste of the power and simplicity of the Luminodes working with our learning system please check out our latest demo if you haven’t yet. There will be plenty more demos ahead as more and varied things become cohesive components of the learning and thinking home of the future!

As always thank you for your patience and support!

- Team Think Automatic

Luminode Live Demo Including Voice Control!

Check out our latest Luminode live demo video to see just how super quick and easy it is to setup Luminodes in an entire house in only a few minutes! Watch to the end (or skip to minute 7:00 or so) to see the powerful yet simple voice control in action, made possible by our data driven learning system.

We expect to know soon when the Luminodes are able to be tested again for required UL safety approval. We hope to be on UL’s calendar in a matter of weeks.

As always thank you for your patience and support!

- Team Think Automatic

Luminode Roller Coaster Still Riding the Rails!

It has been about 6 weeks since my last update and we’re still pulling out all the stops to get the Luminodes out the door and into your homes! It turns out that designing and building (and redesigning and rebuilding) a UL-approved electronic dimmer switch is no small roller coaster ride. The details required to meet specified guidelines and pass important safety testing go on and on and on, the extent of which we underestimated at the outset, but we are still determined to satisfy.

Since receiving 100 newly updated Luminodes from our manufacturer about 2 weeks ago, I have replicated the UL tests the best that I can (without the benefit of a full-fledged UL test facility). Through my testing, I have learned that an early design decision created a bottleneck due to the placement of the primary heat generating-component that will likely limit our rating to 400 watts for incandescent bulbs. Fortunately this will not effect our originally planned 150 watt rating for LED bulbs which is still in line with industry standards.

We are currently communicating with UL about test scheduling and will announce when we have that new schedule finalized.

As always thank you for your patience and support!

- Team Think Automatic

The Continuing Saga of the Luminode

It has been over a month since my last update on Luminode development, and quite a bit longer since delving deeply into the “saga”.  But for those of you simply interested in the highlights, this is where we stand today.

Status:

  • We expect to receive new, UL testable, Luminodes on June 20th.  This delay from earlier estimates stemmed from difficulties in obtaining two separate components needed in order to manufacture the new units with UL necessitated design modifications. All components are now in hand and Luminode manufacturing is underway.
  • If all goes well from here we could begin once again the week-long UL testing process by the end of July or the beginning of August.
  • The silver lining of these delays is that we have used this time to push hard on:
    • Refining the learning algorithm and moving it out to the cloud
    • Improving our web-based user experience
    • Adding advanced features in the Luminode firmware
    • Testing the simple process to integrate “things” into our learning system which as a result turns them into “things that learn”. We’ve started with the Ubi voice recognition device, ecobee thermostat and soon the Philips Hue, though integrating any “thing” with a reasonable API is generally a snap.
The results of these advances means I am able to configure my whole house from scratch in literally in less than 5 minutes, turning it into a true smart home that learns how to respond to my family’s normal patterns.  It conserves our time, energy and money while also letting us see what it has learned while interacting with it from anywhere in the world.
 
Technical Details of Recent Advances Over the Last 6 Months (TLDR version for those who want the gritty details):
  • The Luminode firmware is now bilingual!  They speak both XML and JSON, further simplifying integration with other systems, not just with our learning system.
  • Luminodes are now addressable by their attributes, which means that individual Luminodes may be given any number of attribute/value pairs which can then be used to send commands to arbitrary groups of Luminodes.  As part of the linking process each Luminode is given a location/room name, but that is just the start of the information they maintain about themselves and how they can be addressed.
  • Each Luminode maintains its own snapshot of the learned scene information, including time of day sensitive preference scores, relevant to its location and updated every few minutes by the learning system.  This enables each Luminode to be able to make intelligent scene selections locally, then issue commands directly to other Luminodes in the same room via attribute based addressing.  The net experience is that Luminodes seem to instantly know what you want them to do all with very few, simple and intuitive interactions.
  • Luminodes are now capable of super slow dimming of up to over an hour.  Instead of Luminodes abruptly shutting lights off when it seems no one is present, they can very gradually and pleasantly dim in case the room only appears unoccupied.
  • The learning algorithm now lives in the cloud as a secure service.  This means that not only is it now possible to access your home from anywhere in the world, but also custom or third party cloud based applications can begin to be developed utilizing our learning system.
Past Challenges and Future Hurdles:
  • Although there have been many challenges and setbacks over the last several, now years, the single biggest recent challenge has been satisfying UL requirements and the corresponding revisions and re-submissions.  The cycle of designing->building->testing->redesigning->rebuilding->retesting->… has been an expensive grind.  It would seem that we are finally getting close to UL approval, but this cycle pre-dates our Kickstarter campaign by several years.  The early origins of the Luminode date back to 2007, and the early learning algorithm development goes back to 2005.
  • Now that the Luminode has been under development for so long we are now bumping into an issue common to hardware projects.  The main chip that we use for combined networking and main processing unit (namely the Freescale MC13224) is being phased out of production starting late this fall. Fortunately this chip resides on a daughter board and is not expected to impact UL testing or approval.  Even so we are evaluating a replacement (namely the new NXP JN5164 802.15.4 integrated system on a chip) which may even be ready by the time we begin UL physical testing this summer.
Even longer story cut short, we are still going for it!  
As always thank you everyone for your ongoing patience and support from Team Think Automatic!

 

Quick Luminode Update

We have received UL design approval on the recent changes and have already manufactured new blank circuit boards and mechanical components. After we receive the final electronic components within the next week or two we will complete this build of 100 units enabling us to repeat the UL physical tests. Once we have the UL physical testing scheduled we will post another update with the new timeline.

As always thank you for your continuing patience and support.

- Team Think Automatic

Continuing Progress Towards UL Approval

UL confirmed with us last week that we had a couple minor remaining issues related to our recent Luminode design modifications.  We have since fixed those issues and resubmitted back to UL.  Since the fixes were merely to re-route a few circuit board traces we are confident that we will receive design approval very soon.  Meanwhile, our manufacturing partner in China is ready to begin production on new units as soon as we get official approval from UL so we can restart the physical tests as quickly as possible.

As always, thank you for your continuing patience and support.
- Team Think Automatic

OMG: talking to your smart home beyond the text message

At the international Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas earlier this year, you might think that “smart homes” and “smart phones” were synonymous.   Here’s a roundup of just a few examples:

  • NDTV reports from the show floor that Samsung and LG were out in force. “We are texting friends and family throughout the day. Why not do the same thing with your air conditioning system or your vacuum?” asked LG national product trainer Randy Overton.
  • Samsung Electronics introduced Smart Home, a service for managing its smart TVs, home appliances and smartphones.
  • The Canary security system.

    The Canary security device.

    Engadget profiled the Canary, who displayed their beta home security console. Equipped with a camera and a mic, it texts you should it see or hear anything odd in your home when you’re away. Pretty cool stuff.

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    The Wally home sensor.

  • We’re big fans of home-town favorite, Seattle-based Snupi and their Wally Home sensors that alert you to water leaks and temperature changes.

At Think Automatic, we know that having a killer mobile app will help bring smart homes to the masses. Heck, I’ll admit to enjoying being able to turn my lights off from bed.

But when we think about the smart home of the future, we get more excited about sensing and learning than programming and controls. And a smart home doesn’t have to mean you’re constantly communicating with devices via text message.

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The Ubi. And yes, it *can* hear you now.

That’s why we’re excited about Ubi. This “ubiquitous computer” recognizes voice commands, connects to the internet in your home, and holds a wealth of possibilities for connected devices. And, like Think Automatic, they have a learning algorithm. “The Ubi gets smarter. Updates are automatically pushed to it and it learns over time. ” They’re speaking our language, and with two Ubi’s in the Luminode beta home, we’re excited to integrate them into our platform as part of our “plays well with others” promise.

Stay tuned for updates on that integration, and the meantime, check out the Ubi for yourself!

 

 

 

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The “Internet of Things” isn’t the new hotness

The world of connected devices has certainly been the media darling of late– and rightly so. Nest was just acquired for a whopping $3.2B by Google. Snupi just raised over $7.4M in Series A funding. And 2013 was a banner year for venture capital investing, with big data, mobile, digital health and the internet of things topping the charts. Hot off the press!

Dick Tracy's super-cool video watch dates back to 1931.

Dick Tracy’s super-cool video watch dates back to 1931.

Still more (digital) ink has been devoted to this increasingly popular trend; just today, a Forbes’ headline touted a “new perspective on the Internet of Things. ” Thinfilm’s Davor Sutija describes that “about a trillion sensors are required to power [a] billion connected devices.” Sutija defies industry giants Cisco and IBM with an alternative definition of the “internet of things,” espousing a peer-to-peer device-centric definition of this term of art (vs. the “traditional” definition, centered on the network).

But if you’ve been on the sidelines or in the trenches with IT developments of the last 30+ years, none of this is new, or even news.

The debate between centralization and decentralization is as old as the information technology industry itself. Much (actual) ink was spilled as the pendulum swung between peer-to-peer and client-server architecture. But at the end of the day, from where we’re sitting, there is no “pure” peer-to-peer, nor “pure” client-server universe. The heart doesn’t think and the brain doesn’t pump blood, so the body needs both.

With the “internet of things,” or in the case of Think Automatic, in the “smart home,” or back in the 90′s when I was in Microsoft Research, for what we called “ubiquitous computing,” the heart is the user experience. The brain is the learning algorithm software. And the nervous system is made up of the network of “things” that benefit from and respond to the intelligence of the brain.

jetsonsWhatever you want to call it, the “Internet of Things” isn’t new. With the benefit of Moore’s law (such that every 18 months technology is twice as powerful at half the cost), micro-controllers are now as powerful as the supercomputers of 30 years ago, and the notion of a trillion sensors can become an affordable reality. Eighty years ago, Dick Tracy’s creators had the imagination. Fifty years ago the Jetsons and Star Trek had the vision. Today, enabling technology, the investment community and the consumer are finally catching up.

Smart Grid For the Home