A brilliantly simple wireless, rechargeable, sensor solution to integrate your life with the services and devices you already use.
Sensor types available now:
All sensors are water resistant and can be used outdoors. They contain lithium ion batteries that allow them to run for up to 6 months between charges. They use a ZigBee powered wireless network that lets them work hundreds of feet from the base station.
Sensors can be recharged quickly by placing them in the charging pad on the base station. The base station connects to your home network by plugging the provided network cable into your router or switch.
The Sense Management Portal can be used to monitor trends in data, trigger alerts, and integrate with a growing list of web enabled devices and services to act based on your data.
Here is an informal video discussing early prototypes, and the technology used in current prototypes:
Sense Management Portal
The Sense Base Station transmits sensor data over the internet to the Sense Management Portal. We store an unlimited amount of sensor data securely in a Microsoft Windows Azure based cloud storage system, and you can view graphs and trends, set alerts, or download your data, at any time.
The management portal also allows you to easily configure integration between your Sense data and a variety of other systems with just a few clicks. At launch the portal will support integration with Facebook, Twitter, Email, Nest Thermostats, ISY automation systems, SMS messages and more.
Additionally, for those who wish for additional functionality, the Sense portal can call custom web endpoints specified by you based on alerts or trends.
A computer is not required for integration and alerts to function -- The Sense Portal is continually analyzing your data in the cloud and acting on your behalf.
The management portal is a rich HTML5 application, and will work on all modern mobile phones and tablets. Phone specific applications are in our plans, but may not be available at product launch.
Sense is designed as an open system, and developers will be able to make the most of it with a variety of options for integration.
Developers have the option of connecting to a set of authenticated REST API endpoints on the Sense Management Portal for accessing current and historical data and alerts, or connecting directly to the Sense Base Station which also exposes all functionality locally through REST API's.
When connecting to the base station locally you lose some of the data cleaning and trend identification functionality built into the System Management Portal, but you have more control over the raw data.
A variety of sensor types are under development, including passive infrared (motion detection) and NFC. The sensors for which prototyping is already completed, and thus those that will be available at launch, are as follows:
A digital, calibrated temperature sensor with accuracy to within half a degree Fahrenheit. Great for monitoring the rooms of your house, the outdoor temperature, or a green house. Integrate with your wireless thermostat for more intelligent control based on temperature in other rooms.
Based on a very accurate triple-axis magnetic sensor. Can be used for a variety of things such as determining whether doors are open, or even measuring wind-direction if mounted on a wind-sock.
Very sensitive light sensor can be used to identify dawn or dusk, or gather data on how much sunlight the garden received during the day. Works well indoors or outdoors. Provides a brightness reading, not just on/off.
A piezo vibration sensor which is great at detecting if machinery or appliances are running. Use it to tell when your Roomba ran, or when the washing machine has finished your clothes.
Measures from 10% to 90% relative humidity. A must have for monitoring a garden. Great for turning on a bathroom vent automatically during a steamy shower. Measures accurately in temperatures from 32F to 95F, with minor errors outside those temperatures.
All sensor types (and many new ones) will be available for sale after launch. The Sense Base Station can manage hundreds of sensors.
Most sensors are water resistant and can be used almost anywhere. The current exception is the humidity sensor provided with the Advanced Starter Kit - any moisture will cause an incorrect reading with this sensor (but will not damage it).
Sensors can easily be attached to any object with double sided tape, velcro, or with optional mounting brackets available in the Sense store after product launch.
The base station and sensors seen in the video and pictures are real working prototypes. The electronics were hand assembled, and the plastic cases were 3D printed and hand finished. The work has been completed to select components and designs for manufacturing which will allow us to make a much higher quality product than is possible by hand.
The Sense Management Portal is also functioning at this point, and has been receiving data from several dozen sensors for almost 6 months. Additional features are being added daily.
If the project meets its funding goal we will start soliciting bids from manufacturers immediately. Manufacturing in the USA is a priority. There will be two separate manufacturers -- one for the electronics and one for the plastic housings. Assembly will be done in the USA regardless of the final manufacturing locations.
February 2013 - Select manufacturers for circuit boards and plastic housings.
March 2013 - Testing of manufacturing prototypes and work on the Sense Management Portal
April 2013 - Final assembly of manufactured units and shipping to customers
I have been a software and hardware engineer for 10 years, and have worked on some of the most popular services and consumer products. For the last several years I have designed software for one of the worlds best selling video game consoles.
The sensor and wireless technologies leveraged in this product are not new -- by themselves they are fairly understood and low risk. The aspect of Sense that makes it revolutionary is the long duration battery life for a wireless sensor, allowing easy placement anywhere.
Achieving the long battery life has required a variety of new techniques for putting devices into sleep mode at intelligent times, while still allowing quick reaction for alerts where appropriate.
In early discussions with manufactures we already understand there are challenges in ensuring we meet our calculated power usage goals, which in some cases require higher component quality or attention to detail than would otherwise be the norm.
In the event we can not meet our battery life goals for certain sensor types the risk we face is a requirement to increase the physical size of the device to allow for a larger sensor. This would be a last resort if manufacturing prototypes are below our standards.
Sensors will not be damaged in environments ranging from −20 and 80 °C (-4 and 176 °F). At temperatures lower than this certain components can become brittle and are likely to break. Above this temperature certain ABS plastic parts will begin to melt/soften.
Just because these are safe operating temperatures does not mean the sensors will report accurate data. All sensors are designed to self-calibrate at reasonable temperatures, but data may become less accurate as temperatures become more extreme.
Our goal is battery life of 6 months or greater. However, the end user is going to have quite a bit of control over that. Within the Sense Management Portal you will be able to select reporting frequency (from a few seconds, to several hours) and this will have a large effect on the battery life. We hope to build technology over the coming months to let us predict for you the battery life based on the reporting frequency you assign to the sensor, so you can see this on the website as you configure it.
Charge times should never exceed one hour, but we are working to get them much lower than that.
Sense becomes more powerful with every sensor you add to the network, so we want them to be as accessible as possible.
Our current goal is to price most sensors (when purchased individually) between $25 and $35. There will be a few sensors available for less than this, and some future sensors (e.g. GPS logging) may be more expensive.
There will be a discount available to all backers who wish to purchase additional sensors after launch.
We leverage the same API's that the Nest Web Interface uses, which means we can control anything you can control via the Nest web and phone applications. Currently we control Temperature and Away status.
These can be leveraged to do things like modifying the set point based on the temperature in another room detected by a Sense sensor, or setting the the thermostat to "Away" mode immediately when your car leaves the house.
This integration requires a working internet connection, and requires your Nest credentials to authenticate.
Sense Environment Monitoring Kit. This kit contains a sensor selection tailored to those that want to monitor a greenhouse, factory, barn, or any other place where environmental factors are important. Includes the base station plus two temperature sensors, two light sensors, and two humidity sensors. (6 total sensors).