About this project
YOUR SMART HOME ON YOUR SMART PHONE – DESIGNED BY YOU!
We call them smart-homes because they're trendy, convenient, and stylistic. But wouldn’t it be even smarter if it were yours?
PLUGAWAY produces simple-to-use, super affordable Smart Plugs & LED Bulbs, that let you wirelessly control and monitor your home from your phone - Even better, it will be open & firmware free.
PLUGAWAY hardware. It's everything our backers wanted and it's here!
We studied many of the smart home electronics available today and made PLUGAWAY more compact, more intuitive, more open, and most importantly, much more affordable than anything else out there!
Plugaways already come with a pre-built, free app for the Android and iOS - it has all the basics and is so simple to set-up, it's anxiety-free!
Yet we've gone even further: We have decided to let everyone, including small firms, interior designers, developers, restaurant owners, even hobbyists, build an app in their own style with limitless functionality, share their skins on our website and brand the software with their logotypes. In short - to give it your personality.
Simply connect it to any appliance(s) you want, and start Plugging Away!
Within moments of taking a PLUGAWAY out of the box, it syncs with your Wi-Fi network and gives you these basic, simple and clear functions:
Some Practical Examples of using PLUGAWAY...
You're late for work and running out of the house. With PLUGAWAY you can relax. Why?
-> Because with a single tap on your smartphone, you can switch off or on anything you want in your home - by category (such as living room or bedroom) or specifically – like the coffee maker burning that leftover brew in your kitchen!
- Or what if you keep receiving those electricity bills that just don't make sense, or
your family restaurant really needs to be more economically efficient?
-> Now you can know exactly what is costing you what, by hour or day or month…we're already started looking at a 3-phase smart plug for those big pizza ovens, if you thinking what we're thinking :)
- Or what if you want to personalise various moods for different occasions
like movie night, party time, or even something more personal?
-> with PLUGAWAY, you can easily set any theme presets that you want, and by simply tapping that theme, your home will take on your personality.
Here’s the BIG DEAL of being OPEN:
We're finalising the
hardware (waiting for your feedback) and readying it for certification and
production. But we'd like to go one dimension further.
We want to make this completely open - yes - that means…
- 1. Sign it and make it your own: Great for interior designers, restaurant owners, or developers who want to create their own brand. Have your own logo on the app.
- 2. Bundle your own app: pre-select any features you want, or will ever need, from our open library - just drag&drop presets, settings, skins, and click 'compile app'.
- 3. App sharing: Create you own rules and develop your own app to share with other Plugaway users!
- 4. Integrate it: Link it with anything you can think of - this means IFTTT or pair it with your existing smart-home devices or systems (as long as they're open too)
- 5. Secure it: As secure as it is, maybe you want additional settings or passwords, adding users - limited or full control - it's really up to you!
- 6. Dream it: So, here's the real point. It's entirely up to you what you want to do with it. It's not about having a "Plugaway" brand on your smart plug or phone app. Give it your name, we don't mind - it's yours! :)
Hearing about our smart LEDs and open app, video production company Goldshore Media (GS|M) have already shared with us their thinking about where lighting can go. Check this out:
Some more examples...
Social sharing of themes/skins/moods/actions/firmware, and developers corner, will be available on www.plugaway.co. Look out for news of its opening!
Our open software means two things. Developers are able to integrate other devices into the app and share their add-ins. The other is that Plugaway will also be compatible with other systems, so you don't even need to use our app unless you absolutely want to! Provided your existing system is open, you may use the Plugaway app's API to connect with your current home-automation system.
Kickstarter is all about empowering the entrepreneurial spirit and gearing creative ideas into real action. It does this by facilitating communication between creators, encouraging the sharing of ideas, and helping us to support each other. It’s easy for a big business to consume and dominate a market. However, we believe that we have something here and we want to share it with you. We want our homes to be ours, and not some corporate machine's. And we believe that you want the same.
We don't want to govern the function on your app, that's why we're asking you to help develop it. We don't want to brand your home. We want you to be able to personalise your home.
We are doing Kickstarter because of you. Our goal is to raise $50,000. This money will not be used for covering protoyping, production, or material costs. Rather, we will be building on your Kickstarter comments, feedback and pledges, and reinvesting it into the project to make Plugaway the most awesome and open smartplugs and smart LED's on the market. This looks like:
- (60%) passing BS, CE, UL and more quality certification standards
- (20%) paying software engineers to continue improving the app and make it open
- (10%) developing an online library for sharing designs and ideas
- (10%) Kickstarter commission and tax
We also need you to help us share this dream. The only way for us to do this, is with your help and support.
Every comment and pledge counts.
As said in the video, smart homes are really amazing but many feel that existing systems are too costly, bulky and limited.Our journey starts from a humble beginning; from a married man with a dream. Encouraged by his wife to follow his personal passion for entrepreneurship, mobile technology, and Wi-Fi connectivity, Richard Cai invested his personal time and energy to free-up his home, and put it onto his smartphone.
These actions birthed the PlugAway Project. Initiated under a personal conviction and desire, PlugAway has changed from being a personal dream to a shared vision by a continually growing group of people. Now, we’re inviting you to join the journey! That’s why we are handing you a new, simple and transparent device that you can personalize and call your own. After all, it's for your home!
Of course the pledges are important and we could not continue without them, but we also want to hear what you guys think about our product and ideas. Don't hesitate! Feel absolutely free to contact us with any questions, comments or ideas you may have. We will be grateful for any feedback and will do our best to answer any message as soon as we can.
3rd November 2013, EVENT Update
PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT UPDATE #1 - Setup
5th December 2013, Project Update
1. THE SMARTPLUG SHELL
We started by creating a big prototype. Shortly after that, we made it into a working smart plug! However, because our backers came with so many good ideas, we decided to pause our previous campaign, and implement all those suggestions. Think we've done it this time!
The above pictures show hollow shells and for reference only. There'll need to be certain changes made, such as inserting the PCB! The pictures show appearance and dimensions, we'll need to add grounding pins and do some further work before the Schuko plug is ready.
Our aim is for the smartplug itself to run on only 0.2W and as we are still prototyping, this will need confirmed in a later update. Prototypes are supporting 2500W. In a home scenario with a regular small stereo with standby wattage at 6W, annual energy saving could equate to 53.2kWh at $4.82 saving. Larger appliances such as ACs and TVs can drain several dollars per day if not turned off. Modern appliances are increasingly energy efficient, however energy prices have risen 150% in the past 10 years (UK) and are continuing upwards!
Fridges and freezers may also be connected to Plugaway. Not that you’ll turn them off. But if your freezer breaks down, wouldn’t it be nice to receive a Plugaway alert message before you lose everything in the freezer? Depending how well you stock your freezer, that alert message could save over $100’s.
Our current Plugaway units are single input devices. You may connect a power strip into a Plugaway, though this will control all appliances at once. We are considering a power strip as a stretch goal. Though more on this in an update later.
2. THE PLUGAWAY PCB
Our shell exterior is complete and we're finalising the PCB - making sure to take on board your comments as we do. We've already received some great feedback and will be considering some changes as follows:
CAPACITOR: Our prototype pictures show a combination of capacitors (models: 1000U DIP_2.54, 100U X1210, and 1U X0603). However, as we will be applying for RoHS, which relates to the material composition of components, it also infers a consideration towards component quality. We recognise that this inference currently does not align with the quality of capacitor in our shown prototypes and feel that a higher grade capacitor will better ensure long-term durability. We shall confirm our final capacitor selection in a pending update
CPU: For similar price optimisation, we have chosen the ATmega128 CPU as it utilises a low-power AVR 8-bit Microcontroller and offers a performance that satisfies all of the requirements for efficient control. During prototyping, we have emphasised design, quality and stability. Though we recognise that energy efficiency is important for providing maximum value to you as a user. We will be exploring ways to further improve its energy consumption before release. Our aim is for 0.2W, but this is subject to change depending upon further modifications. The question concerning balance between efficiency and affordability is a critical question, and we take great care when making our decisions.
WIFI CHIP: The above pictures show connection to an 802.11b/g network via a Marvell 88W8686 Wi-Fi chip, originally chosen due to lower cost (meaning cheaper prices for you). However, our final model will connect to an 802.11n network to offer increased range. The exact Wi-Fi chip to be used is still to be determined. Furthermore, our choice for Wi-Fi technology over bluetooth permits increased range and allows each Plugaway to have a separate IP address, offering potential for 252 Plugaway’s to be connected to a standard single household network.
3. THE SMART LEDS
The internal LEDs are
type 14x3528, and are shelled within an aluminum electroplated cooling housing
with a silver finish.The bulb is custom made by Iwan to
overcome common heating problems.
A key component of this cooling principle is to use the ectoplasm aluminum due to its higher heat disapation and ability to direct heat away from the LEDs faster than other materials
The custom made frosted acrylic LED bulb is fully compatible with each of the out-of-the-box features above (scheduling, energy monitoring etc), the LED bulb uses just 6Ws of power and an estimated lifespan of 30,000 hours. At a 450-500lm output it compares to a regular 50W halogen bulb, thus able to provide energy savings of 85%. It also has an A++ energy label and its E27 fixture is the most regular and common bulb fixture around. What does E27 mean? Named after the designer, this 'Edison Screw' (E) tip bulb has a diameter of 27mm (27).
Iwan has been experimenting with a wide range of bulb designs since 2004, which has seen him work on some interesting projects including a car showroom, underwater pool lights, and just plain old weird architecture, as well as regular interior design projects. The bulb used for this project was first prototyped by Iwan in December 2012 (as shown above). Following Plugaway's first Kickstarter campaign, Iwan and the Plugaway team started collaborating together since June to produce the smart LED (name to be chosen by you!). Plugaway then utilised Iwan's LED design expertise and modified their wi-fi technology to fit the PCB inside the bulb, as well as offer a dimming function and are working on an RGB control option that will be fully revealed in a coming update. Footage from the first public demonstration will be uploaded on Youtube in mid-November. This Kickstarter bulb is just the first of many more designs to come. As further suggested below, we'll be looking together at integrating the LEDs into the default Plugaway app.
4. SMART-PLUG POWER STRIP
What's in the power strip?
4X plug sockets (same geographical regions as regular smart plug)
1X heat sensor (for monitoring room temperature)
2X USB slots
Each plug socket may be individually or group controlled from the smartphone app, or manually on the power strip. Each plug socket will have its own LED to indicate the socket state (on/off) Regular USBs use 500mA, but we’ll look to offer up to 1.5A support (5volt and 7.5watt). As such, we’ll have compatibility with an increased range of devices. The possibility of offering a USB data storage feature was also suggested. This sounded great. But to do this would require upgrading the CPU to handle data transfer, which would then require additional power for operation. As one of our key points is to reduce power consumption and facilitate energy saving, we seek to minimise our own power demands. There’d also be additional security issues being raised during data transfer.
For the power strip, we won’t personally be financing the development and will be looking for Kickstarter to cover the development costs. As such, we have budgeted a small margin into the pricing to cover arising costs. Equally, we’re continuing with our theme of affordability, so we’ll be noticeably cheaper than the majority of other smart power strips out there.
The general consensus has been favourable towards the classical power strip shape rather than a curved or cubed shape. We particularly like the succinct reasoning of Mark Rutledge, essentially highlighting factors including design speed, development cost and design complexity, as well as the regulatory environment, as favouring the classical strip.
5. APP DESIGN
Whilst the Plugaway switch looks good, our free app is the backbone and central nervous system for everything that we're doing! We've spent (and are still spending) hours on optimising our app from a three-pronged approach that balances aesthetics, functionality and simplicity.
We're currently developing for Android and iOS, but we aspire to have Windows available by summer 2014.
You can see from the above app shots that we have come a long way since our first prototype, and we're looking forward to showing you more as we progress throughout this campaign.
Our summary schedule is:
- Present - Jan 2014: Complete our freely downloadable app with core functions
- Jan - Mar 2014: Develop a 'creative space' and open library on our website
- Feb - Mar 2014: Application to Google Play and the App Store
- Apr 2014: App release...time to party!!!
We will also be providing free server access so that you can store your energy history. And just in case anybody is wondering, the smart plugs and lights will all be compatible with the app!
5. FACTORY PRODUCTION
The Plugaway Project is overseen by Torrap Designs Limited, a public company registered in Australia. However, we're operating from mainland China. Why???
One of the biggest challenges for many hardware companies/projects is finding reliable, stable and suitable partners - particularly at the production level! We approached this challenge with simple logic, build a relationship with the factories. To do this, we set-up our office just a 45 minutes drive from two of Beijing's factory districts, employed locals, and make frequent visits.
Rather than frequently fly between continents, we changed continents!
We want our partners to work together to create a quality driven and sustainable supply chain. Being close to our future production partners is not merely enough. We require an Initial Factory Audit/Inspection as part of our factory selection process. The objective is to assist us with conducting due diligence throughout our supply chain; as we ourselves continually strive to meet our aim of being transparent and accountable to our multiple stakeholders. Our Initial Factory Audit/Inspection evaluates the capability of a Factory to produce products within a consistent and sustainable Manufacturing process.
Within the context of the above statement, sustainable refers to two areas. Firstly: a Factory’s convergence with statutory United Nations (UN) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and documents on areas such as Safe, Healthy and Hygienic Working Conditions (ILO Convention No.155 and ILO Recommendation No.164); Adequate Wages and Compensation (ILO Convention No.26 and 131); No Excessive Working Time (ILO Convention No.1 and 14), and other areas as deemed appropriate. Secondly: a Factory’s environmental and energy use procedures. In relation to TS 16949, Factory’s should be able to demonstrate a strategy for waste reduction, improving electrical and energy efficiency, and responsible purchasing – at very least in areas pertinent to Torrap (our name).
Manufacturing process relates to the Manufacturer’s Quality Management System, Assembly Line, Inspection and Testing Procedures, and Facilities and Equipment. In addition to our own onsite visit, this is importantly inferred through current receipt of relevant certification standards, such as ISO 9001.
During prototyping, we have printed our PCBs with Beijing KDS Electronics Co., Ltd and our shell with Beijing Rapid Precision Tooling Co., Ltd. They are each well recognised and between them produce for companies such as Audi, Panasonic Electric, Sony and Volkswagen. Any changes to our suppliers will be disclosed within future sustainability reporting
A note on certification: Assurance of quality goes well beyond receipt of certifications. However, we will still be applying for certification for each geographical market: America (UL498), Australia and New Zealand (AS3112), Britain (BS 1363), China (CCC) and Europe (CE 7/7). Note that some countries may not be covered under these certification standards. We will additionally opt for application towards a material certification standard (RoHS) and environmental standard (WEEE).
Free Developer Kit to ALL!
We're offering all of you an open-access zone where anyone and everyone can build their own styled and self-branded app. This will include an open access library that offers a range of presets for you to bundle together as you please, and also provides a space for you to show-off your app interface, skins, etc., and share it with other Plugaway users.
For those who missed the early bird 20% discount rate, don't worry, Plugaway devices are still available at a great value.
Timely fulfilment of our pledges to you means a lot to us! We endeavour to meet all of our commitments to you and promise to notify you in the event of any change.
And remember, you can top-up with more devices later!
Wanting Plugaway as a gift?
Christmas is coming & the New Year is around the corner. Giving always has a sense of excitement! So we’ve decided to design a few template gift cards for you to freely download, print off, and fill-out.
Plugaway is a growing team of both permanent and support members (a mix of us are in the picture above). Separate from the picture above, here’s some background info on our core guys:
Richard - Entrepreneur and Founder, Richard has 15 years of Financial Marketing experience. Previous experience includes co-founding Cashflowcap, an influential investment consulting company in China with assets under consultation exceeding 1.5 billion RMB (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chen Biao -Responsible for circuitry design and hardware debugging, Chen Biao has over 10 years of experience in hardware design, including Ethernet and wireless communication modules
ChenXian - A software engineer by profession, ChenXian has held his main occupation as Head of Development at Duome.cn since 2008 (well-known by its 4million Chinese users for developing mobile platforms with organisations ranging from McDonalds to the State Grid Corporation of China). Previously worked for Gameloft/UBI, a globally recognised mobile games development company
Iwan Kreft - LED Specialist. An avid follower of the home automation industry, Iwan is Owner and Director of Ledreus Co., Ltd, a Dutch-based design and manufacturing company specialising in LED lighting and hardware circuitry. Iwan also has 7 years of project management experience with the Netherlands’ Ministry of Defence, as well as being a Director of Engineering position at GSM Service Aalten in 2003 – 2004. (email@example.com)
John Storm - Responsible for business and partnership relations, John worked for the China Britain Business Council in Beijing, then set-up his own Business Development Consultancy in 2011. Prior experience includes working as Sustainability Manager in a Hong Kong manufacturer and an upbringing in Retail Management in the U.K. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
THANKS FOR EVERYTHING YOU'VE DONE!!
WISHING YOU HAPPY HOLIDAYS & A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
-THE PLUGAWAY TEAM
Articles written from around the world by those who believe in us:
Risks and challenges
Ensuring your safety: In addition to encrypting the system coding and utilising a secure and nationally leading internet service provider. Plugaway devices may be further protected by three rounds of passwords. First, your household Wi-Fi network password is required. Second, you can apply a password to your app. And thirdly, you can assign a password to any individual appliance. This for example, allows you to share control for all appliances with anyone you choose just by sharing your passwords; whilst, for example, also being able to prevent them from playing pranks and waking you by turning on your bedroom light during the night!
Maintaining stability: Plugaway uses a server for three reasons. Firstly to allow phone control beyond the scope of your home network. Secondly, each device has a memory span of approximately 6 months. To ensure efficient operations, we upload information to the cloud and refresh the memory of your device. Third, few people have access to a personal server, so we provide server access for free.
Although we'll be looking at renting space on international servers prior to launch (such as amazon), our current server is operated by WanWang (www.net.cn) in Zhejiang Province, China. This is for practical reasons as we have been developing the project in China. Well recognised as China's leading internet services provider, WanWang has one of the worlds’ top IDC rooms with independent IP, optical access and line redundancy, INTEL multi-core server platforms and a DDT backup system. This is accompanied by its real-time monitoring system and equipment maintainance, supporting its 24/7 operational guarantee. Utilised by China's equivalent of Google (Baidu), Youtube (Youku), Twitter (Weibo) etc, WanWang's operational stability has a direct influence upon China's economic stability. As such, WanWang provide a 24/7 operational guarantee, and report 365 days of uninterrupted service annually. In the unlikely event of a server crash, your Plugaway devices will remain operational. However, we have programmed a default safety feature that will only permit recognised and secure networks to control your devices. This will usually be limited to your household Wi-Fi network. We shall review our international server selection before final launch and - in a similar style to above - provide rationale behind the decision. Note also that there's no obligation to use our server, it is simply there as a free service to regular users without their own personal server. Just use the on/off option within the settings menu
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