5th January 2015
The Internet of Things, as we all know is a game changer however there is some serious issues to resolve including security/privacy and standard protocols before IoT reaches saturation point with the general public rather than just early adopters.
On the standards protocol front we already have existing protocols used in home automation including z-wave, zigbee, bluetooth, wifi and so on, and there is also multiple working groups writing new standards like Thread This all adds up to another marketing war like the wireless charging debacle that’s been going on for years. Users are not likely to embrace the technology while this happens and as technology moves at such a fast pace putting your money into a gateway type hub device is also not ideal as it will be outdated in no time and whilst new protocols can be included to be also backwards compatible with older standards it will get confusing and software unstable and complicated
The team behind Protocol Brickz or prickz for short saw this emerging issue two years ago and has been hard at work to design a solution that would evolve with technology and be able to implement new standards as they emerge.
The result was a tiny (about size of small usb stick) modular network radio brick that could just be plugged into any device/appliance to take it from a regular stand alone device to smart connected device. Based on a simple robust serial language, this enables appliance makers to enter the IoT market with minimal changes to their production line without having to worry about apps for multiple platforms, security etc. For example take a standard coffee maker, with the addition of a simple micro controller it can pass existing temperature sensor data and on/off switch pulses along with power consumption data straight through to the prickz module for external control and monitoring.
The first prickz module that was identified as a good place to start was a wifi version that would require no gateway/hub and be a mesh type network so all devices/appliances could talk to each other. This approach meant it was a simple entry point for the consumer with a single app to control every device on the network. The wifi prickz will be controlled via its own app. (more on the app here)
The second prickz that was designed leverages the users already in the home automation space with z-wave systems that any prickz enable appliance could be enrolled to an existing z-wave gateway.
As new protocols emerge and they will come in droves, we will continue to make different prickz modules that still all talk a common language to the appliance so there is no need to change appliances and they size of the prickz module will also come down but remain backwards compatible
The cost of the prickz modules are to be cost price therefore no profit is to be made on the sale of the modules to ensure we keep the price of entry as low as possible for the consumer and this price will be reduced in time as component prices come down. Initially the wifi+ prickz is priced at $24
This model of portable module upgrades also lends itself to large service providers “renting” out the modules. Imagine an apartment building being fitted out with prickz enabled power sockets and lights and water meters that the tenants can upgrade/downgrade at anytime to be app controllable. This also allows the apartment building to monitor usage habits and make better decisions on power consumption at peak times and purchases etc.
So what appliances are available currently that take prickz? We have been in consultation with many regular appliance manufactures whilst developing the system so we can tell you there is a multitude of devices coming early 2015 including electrical sockets, analog and digital light dimmers/switches, water meters and even car modules.