It’s our pleasure to show you some features of the The Thinker, a new “Lhings Ready” product which is an intelligent control host created by GeekLink. Claimed as the next generation universal remote for smart home, GeekLink has achieved a successful campaign in Kickstarter!
Behind the intelligent features of this product, it’s important to highlight its capacity of making other not-internet-connected products to be accessed remotely, even from your Smartphone. To be more specific, it acts as an universal remote. It could learn RF and IR codes in order to communicate with them and somehow link them to network and the cloud.
Fortunately, Geeklink has decided to include Lhings compatibility, as well as other cloud services as IFTTT. We are ansious to receive our first sample and make our air conditioner, an old model that works with an old remote, to be controlled directly from our Smartphone anywhere and play with other Lhings compatible products!
We hope you find this product interesting. We will keep you informed about other products and projects that are starting to use Lhings and get ready in the market.
Lhings Beta has been working for several months under a rigid access control in order to study its behavior and guarantee the best service. Now that we are confident in its solid base, we are ready to open it to anybody who wants to explore and enjoy the benefits offered by this connectivity tool.
Don’t you have a Lhings account yet? Well, then it’s time to SIGN UP and start connecting your first Device!
Connect your first Device: PlugLhings App
We prepared everything to make your first experience with Lhings as easy as possible and it has to be with your Smartphone! PlugLhings is a Mobile App that will let your Smartphone to connect to Lhings. It will be your first Device! So, your Smartphone will be able to send “Geofence” Events and receive “Notification” Actions.
In short, with PlugLhings App your Smartphone could order your Air Conditioner to turn on when approaching home or receive notifications when someone opens the door.
When we boil the Internet of Things down to basics, it is all about user experience. The Internet has always been about utility. It was first designed to foster communication between American scientists during the Cold War but has since blossomed into a worldwide platform shared by ordinary people as well as movers and shakers. We can live entire lives online, socializing, communicating, and consuming just as we would outside of the Internet’s digital confines.
But those confines have not remained static. Wi-Fi and mobile technology have been pushing the limits of the Internet in the physical world. By 2018, estimates suggest that there will be 18 billion Internet-ready devices in the world. By comparison, the UN projects that the world population will reach 7.6 billion by that time. More than two online-capable devices for every inhabitant of Earth? It’s coming.
A large part of this boom in connectivity is expected to come from “dumb” devices becoming “smart.” Manufacturers are recognizing the impact the Internet has had on consumer expectations and are scrambling to build devices that integrate into the web-saturated world.
If you examine the types of changes manufacturers are making, it is clear they have customizable services and remote access at the center of their decisions. Both of these features have positive customer experiences at their center.
Devices that fix themselves
In the past, tech support has been an expensive and time-consuming ordeal for device manufacturers. Identifying the problem is often the biggest hurdle, requiring clear communication between support technicians and customer’s unfamiliar with the inner workings of the device. Failure to properly resolve a situation can result in lost customers.
Samsung has tried to overcome this hurdle by releasing Smart Care. The app empowers customers to take ownership of the care and maintenance of their devices. Smart Care works by automatically sending product care and maintenance alerts to a user’s cell phone, bypassing the customer service phone call and improving a customer’s overall experience.
Products and services that talk amongst themselves
The Internet of Things is also being used to seamlessly integrate devices and services. While this is an age-old manufacturing tactic, usually typified by creating intuitive, easy to use designs, it is taking on new life in the age of IoT. Device automation and integration into existing systems is now the name of the game. Not only does a product need to work well on its own, it also has to fit into an existing web of personal products and services managed by a specific user.
Companies have responded to this challenge differently. For example, ADT, the largest home security provider in the United States, has taken an approach that integrates its Pulse product with other major systems. The company recently chose to partner with Ford SYNC and McAfee in an effort to tie together products already being used by its customers. The McAfee partnership is an effort to create a unified security experience control and monitored inside the Pulse product. And by working with Ford, ADT is expanding the number of locations a customer could safely use the Pulse product. ADT is seeking to improve the experience of its product by integrating with other major brands in its industry to create a unique experience for its users.
Another approach is to create a system that integrates and manages all your smart devices for you. This design is more flexible than direct integration and allows users the ability to customize their experience and automate tasks based upon their preferences, reducing the time they spend thinking about their devices and increasing the enjoyment they received when things work as expected.
It’s all about the experience
When you boil the IoT down to basics, it is all about user experience. What are you most interested in seeing from a fully automated and integrated experience of your things?
Everyday somehow our routines are driven by the occurrence of events. But what does it have to do with the Internet of Things?
Events are things that happen and as a consequence we take decisions and actions. Even people who are not exposed to the free will, where one thing leads to another, and prefer to schedule every task of the day, are driven in this case by time.
So, if our daily lives are somehow driven by these sequences of events and actions, would it be possible for our homes, cars or cities to “live” a routinely life?
Our homes would adapt to our conditions and preferences, or even our cities would lower costs by optimizing their resources as a living organism regulates its metabolism: if those trash cans are empty, then the cleaning truck should not take that route; if that zone is empty at night, then lower the light brightness; if that happens, then do that action; and so on.
The Internet of Things emphasizes that one of its key features is the ability to communicate and share data among devices or objects, so they would be able to even make decisions or actions by their own. New Cloud platforms are appearing in order to manage the huge amount of data from all those devices. However, that vision of the connected entity, the home or city that we could talk to, may appear too far.
In this context, Lhings has adopted the event-action approach as the basic architecture of its platform:
This architecture, as simple as it is, has demonstrated to achieve very big goals. It is not only easy to understand by users who establish the logic conditions (When this happens, then do that action), but also simplifies significantly technical complexities as communication and compatibility issues. This makes it easy to add new objects into an ecosystem where anyone can talk to anyone.
So, talking to our homes and cities is not that far. Stay tuned!
This is a testing stage where makers and developers interested in using Lhings for their projects are helping us to improve and adapt the platform. As those are promising and visionary projects that rely on the Internet of Things to provide new services, we would like to make reference to the Wired article “Welcome to the Programmable World”.
According to the three stages described in the article to build the Programmable World, the first is getting more devices onto the network. For makers, though each day there are more connected devices available in stores, they prefer to build or adapt them to their needs. Last month we could experience that at first hand at the Mini Maker Faire Barcelona. It was the first maker faire in Spain and was organized by MOB who did a great job! There were really great projects which demonstrated that simple things could impress you by just adding a touch of creativity.
The second stage deals with device connectivity, where coordinated actions could be carried out without human intervention. This is precisely one of the most important constraints that makers and developers need to tackle in order to build their applications. In this context, Lhings is the solution they were looking for. From the feedback received so far from our beta testers, device discovery and action automation are the key features provided by Lhings which have helped them to build their applications. Then, they implement their own behavior to their system which is the third stage to build their own programmable world.
Do you have an interesting project? Does it need to connect devices and coordinate actions? Please, contact us!
Lhings was present at the IoT Event held at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. As event partners, we presented a preview of our forthcoming Beta version, as well as a demo which allowed visitors to control and orchestrate actions of a set of inter-connected devices. It was a successful experience where visitors to our booth had the chance to interact and have fun.
In general, this demo presented simple examples which made use of the basic features of Lhings. Visitors could change colors of Hue light bulbs from Philips whenever they squeezed one of the Spöka lamps from Ikea, and at the same time trigger events to the WeMo Switch from Belkin to turn on a fan. What happened was up to each visitor, who could use Lhings to initiate a different series of interactions among the interconnected devices each time.
The IoT Event was a great experience that allowed meet enthusiastic passionate people like us interested in the Internet of Things, as well as companies working hard to create innovative services.
We would like to say thanks to everyone who visited our booth and had fun with our demo. We had a great time!
Do you have Internet-connected devices? Probably the answer is yes, and the device you are using to read this blog is one of them. Sooner or later there will be more devices on your list, and they could range from your alarm clock to your car. But now the question is, could they talk, share control and interact among themselves? And this time, the answer is no. A good analysis of this worrisome perspective on the future of the Internet of Things is expressed by Liat Ben-Zur in her article Connecting Things to the Internet Does Not an Internet of Things Make. Here she highlights her concern that we are overlooking a basic fact in a field that is emerging so rapidly:
“Simply it is not scalable to provide a particular cloud service for each device”.
In this context, Lhings offers a flexible and scalable cloud platform designed to connect heterogeneous devices and let them discover, connect and talk among themselves, while their owners control and orchestrate their actions through a web-based user interface.
In general, Lhings emphasizes three features in its design:
Interoperability: the ability for devices from different types and brands, even those you make yourself, to communicate among them; all of them in a secure cloud.
Openness: the next killer IoT application is about to come, and it could be yours! Lhings promotes this creativity and provides tools (APIs, code and examples), so you can leverage device information and offer new and useful services.
Social Interaction: when devices from different users communicate among themselves, they are probably notifying events or sharing control. This is the contextual intelligence which the Internet of Things relies on, and where a significant amount of innovative services will appear in the near future.
Lhings is not only a very promising, innovative project, but also a platform in a very advanced stage about to release its private Beta version. It has taken a while to get to this stage. Apart from technical complexities, there were concepts that had to be validated, firstly by those who we consider the core promoters of the Internet of Things, the makers and developers, and secondly by industry and technology experts. Last year’s participation at StrataConf London and LeWeb Paris 2012 was a turning point that confirmed our work and ideas. Please watch our presentation:
If we had to say what our biggest technical challenge has been so far, we would say it was retaining the commonly-used networking infrastructure and communication protocols, while making a flexible and interoperable platform. The next biggest challenge, was, of course, keeping these technical issues invisible to users.
Would you like your car and your garage door opener to communicate so the door is open when you arrive? Would you like your room lamps to turn on when your friend’s alarm clock rings? Would you like to make a device that publishes seismic alerts in your neighborhood so anybody or any Thing interested is informed? These are some ideas that can be carried out with Lhings; we bet you have lots of them.
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