Sunday, July 15, 2012

Roomba Experiment

It's been a while since the Roomba was brought on to the market, and the price point for a Roomba 530 is between $250-$300 - not to mention numerous competitors are now in the market place.

That tips it over the threshold for me, so I'm certainly getting one. Plus, this video kind of implies I can have my own 'ferret vs robot' gladiatorial competitions.

The other thing I was looking at this morning was home automation. You know my thoughts on killer industrial robots, but I haven't looked at home automation for a long time.

What's really quite interesting to me is that everyone I know seems to have an XBMC setup, and that zwave home automation gear is specifically target at the Australian market.
Add in LinuxMCE, the fact that everyone has an ipad, iphone or android phone; sites like IFTTT and the open source equivalents exist, people making smart devices like the Nest, and IPv6 meaning everything in the universe can have an IP address if it wants, things start to get interesting.

Right now I can:

  • Use IFTTT to syndicate this blog post to twitter, facebook by adding certain labels.
  • Use IFTTT to SMS/notify me ("Ensure the dog is wearing its rug") when the temperature will go below 10 degrees C, or the opposite ("You have a hot dog, it's 35 degrees C!")
  • Use my galaxy s2 to add torrents to my xbmc server, while Christina watches a seperate program on the iPad.
  • Pay nothing on my power bill for any of this, given the solar power being generated
The roomba will add self-cleaning to my house to some degree - only a 10-20 minute saving per weekend, but it's about the same as paying $5.77 per time I don't have to vacuum.

My lawn mower is electric, which means it performs terribly in the winter wet conditions, but I've yet to have to fight against it to make it start, and it's got trivial running costs (again, solar power).

Pretty soon, I could
  • Add enough motion sensors and lighting to have climate and ambient light follow me around the house. 
  • Add in dimmers for side lamps fairly cheaply ($99 is alright, but it could be better!), so when I stop moving around and settle in to watch TV the lighting fades to nothing.
  • Add security sensors on the doors/windows; plus alerts to my smartphone if I leave the house and forget to close one properly.
  • In winter, switch on the heater at sunrise until 9am.

Right now the biggest things I think stopping this from taking off are the lack of "starter kits". For instance, a USB stick, LinuxMCE and a few light dimmer switches would be the perfect $200 package to get you started on this stuff, but no one tends to sell that in one kit.

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