So this project has been on the backlog for quite some time now and I’ve finally been able to put in some work. The first reason it’s been hard to post things is because my day job keeps me quite busy, the second reason that this project, in particular, took so long is because I’m scared of mains. However, with that being said, it’s also one of the projects I’ve been eager to start.
In an age where technology is more advanced than ever, we’re still stuck with a lot of dumb devices. My phone can take 1080p video, browse the internet, and can even be used to pay for things, yet I can’t turn on a light or the AC without having to push a physical switch. Now those may seem like silly, even solved (Philips Hue) problems however, they touch on a larger issue, which is energy. I set out to solve two problems with this project: how we interact with it, and how to leverage new infrastructure to make those interactions more efficient.
I started with a standard outlet. Adding relays allowed for simple on/off control of devices that have hard power switches (ones that physically stay opened or closed). Current monitoring is provided by a ACS712 series chip. A Bluetooth module was added for wireless communication, as well as an RFID reader for additional interaction.
Once the infrastructure is there, a whole new level of automation can be reached. Lights and coffee that turn on in the morning (set from the time on your phone’s alarm), and turn off after you’ve left (phone drops off the list of Bluetooth devices in the area). If you’re worried your pet might get too hot during the day, you could schedule your AC to turn on periodically to keep your apartment cool. By gathering data on how much power your electronics draw over time, you could schedule energy intensive tasks to take advantage of off-peak pricing, or just create a bunch of interesting graphs.
This project is definitely in its early stages and it’s something I’d really like to put more time into. You can expect more updates and an in-depth write-up in the future.