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Unnumbered Sparks is an interactive sculpture by Janet Echelman and Aaron Koblin featuring advanced Google web technologies.

Owl Platform

Sensing made simple

There are a lot of small, wireless sensors out there -- we’ve mentioned more than a few here at Postscapes -- but amazingly, we continue to see new innovations and variations in the product space. For Owl Platform Online, the distinguishing feature of the one-inch-square Pipsqueak sensors is their incredibly long battery life. With up to 10 years of life on a single coin cell battery, these ‘Pips’ offer a simple set-and-forget way to monitor environmental conditions around a home.

Pips can detect the presence of water, ambient light and temperature, and -- via a magnetic switch -- whether a door, drawer or window is open or closed. Because they’re so small and the batteries last so long, they’re particularly suited to spots that are hard to access but need to be monitored over the long term -- like to watch for leaks in a basement or crawlspace.

Owl Platform was designed by Inpoint Systems, makers of the Roll-Call RFID inventory system for businesses. For the Pipsqueak sensors, Inpoint designed sensing and reporting protocols that minimize power consumption. The Pips take sensor readings only as often as they need to, and report via radio to a base station only when they detect a meaningful change. At lengthy intervals they ping the base station to let it know they’re still functioning and give an estimate of remaining battery life.

The base station itself needs an Ethernet connection in its current form, but could eventually have WiFi as well. Data from the Pips is sent through the base station to the cloud-based service at Owl Platform Online. Users can access a browser interface to check each sensor’s current status, grab logs of past data, and set conditions for text or email alerts from each sensor. The cloud service will carry a subscription fee, which will be required to use any apps that take advantage of the forthcoming web API. But the platform software is open source, so users can set up their own servers to monitor their Pips.

Long-Lasting Wireless Sensors: Owl Platform

Owl Platform’s Kickstarter campaign ends Dec. 18, 2013, and if successful, Inpoint aims to start shipping the sensor systems in summer 2014.

See the video below for a demonstration of Owl Platform Online and the Pipsqueak sensors in action.

Related: Home Sensor Systems

Ted Burnham

Professional Combobulator


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