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Turning old appliances into connected Smart Devices.

  • Prototyping, Electronic Gadgets

Internet of Things (IOT) has been the hype over the past few years. Connected homes, connected devices, wearables and more.

A few days ago, a friend asked whether we could help to connect up his household devices without the need to buy new smart devices. He wanted to control the lights, radio, and fan from his mobile phone.

Below is a quick prototype without any bells and whistles. In this example, the Smart Switch acts as a hidden access point, where you can connect and control your devices that are plugged on. Taking a step further, it also saves you the trouble of having to remember the IP address, by automatically redirecting you to the control application no matter what URL you key in. It is a similar concept to how some corporate access points redirect you to a login page, except that no further login is required (assuming WiFi WPA2 security is sufficient for now).


Device 1: Room Lights . Device 2: Fan . Device 3: Radio . Device 4: Little Night Light
The smart switches are at the top right corner of the video.

Warning: Please do NOT try to wire your own switches at home unless you totally know what you are doing.
In Singapore, household power sources are usually 230V and it is enough to send a lethal current, that may prove fatal.


Caution

And before we go away thinking of connecting every single thing in your home. Let us pause to consider some questions.

  1. Security: Is it going to be connected over local WiFi or over the Internet? What are the security mechanisms and how secure are they?
  2. Safety: If someone hacks in and takes over your devices, are there any risks? Any heating elements, flammable materials etc?
  3. Other unknowns: All devices can become fautly. If the smart switches do not work, what is the maximum possible damage? (Imagine the lights around the house start flickering on and off at random, and connected taps start spraying water randomly) Are you prepared for that?
    Don't forget to design a manual override, and safety mechanisms to handled unexpected scenarios.
    For this experiment, we replaced the typical 13A fuse for a 5A fuse, just in case.
  4. Are there any real benefits of connected devices? What would be some beneficial use cases?
    - Perhaps energy saving mechanisms that shut off the air conditioner after you fall asleep?
    - Or room lights that turn on in the morning to wake you up at 6am instead of the usual noisy alarm?

Do you have some ideas now racing through your mind that you can't wait to share? Do head over to our Facebook Page and share them with us!

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