Idratek are an amazing home automation company built on decades of research. Their impressive system even powers the UK’s smartest home.
The Idratek guys had some pretty forthright ideas when we published our piece on home automation control in the Cloud (check out the comments at the bottom), so it’s interesting to see the way they are integration with Cloud services (amongst other things).
One important feature of using Web APIs based on (albeit loosely) agreed interface structures is that this helps to remove the intercommunication barriers between different systems, at least at the developer level. It means that anyone can connect their particular application, whether it is on a tiny Arduino or Raspberry Pi or on a Cloud based platform into the IDRATEK ecosystem.
For the technically minded – the IDRATEK Web API server provides multiple user (connection) accounts secured by independent user names and passwords and with independent access rights on an object by object basis. The server also provides SSL capability for secure data communications. JSON, XML and IDRATEK’s own Synapse protocols are supported. The Web API client allows for the creation of multiple connections to 3rd party applications and provides some level of provision for the decoding and interconnectivity of data sets into existing Cortex object structures.
IDRATEK have long been known for their ‘proper’ home automation systems, rather than ones that merely add remote control capabilities to devices. That’s an oft overlooked differentiator of smart home setups, and one that clearly still irks IDRATEK…
Not a day goes by without us hearing about yet another internet connected gadget which ‘you can control with your smartphone’. It is as if people’s understanding of what HA means still hasn’t progressed much beyond what it might have been 20 years ago other than that the user interfaces and connectivity have been much improved. Well let me grumble (as I usually do) and remind you that HA is really about the ‘A’. No one will really find it convenient to have to pull out a smartphone in order to turn on their living room light when entering that room – no matter how cool it might initially seem. Similarly I imagine most people will tire pretty quickly of having to be constantly adjusting temperature settings and climate controls for their homes let alone if these are zoned to the room level.
So, for HA to become truly popular and useful it really needs to have the emphasis very much on the Automation part. Of course many vendors have woken up to this marketing point and will purport to offer all manner of intelligent automation solutions. And here comes my second grumble, Automation has to work well. Its no good having something which might make correct decisions 70% or even 90% of the time. It has to be closer to 99% or even better for some critical functions.
IDRATEK’s point is that just because you can connect your gadgets to the Internet it doesn’t necessarily follow that they will give you a ‘smart’ Home Automation system. But with their tech handling the entire home system, they are free to introduce a wide range of big data derived features into its users homes.
The picture at the top provides just a tiny illustration from the big set of possibilities. It shows IDRATEK’s Cortex running on a Windows tablet and displaying a Cortex Notice Board object. This in turn is delivering real time data collected from two other remote IDRATEK systems. The 3 systems are actually interconnected using IDRATEK’s internet ‘bridge’ technology. One of the remote systems uses a Web API client to collect weather reports from the UK Met Office’s API enabled site, whilst at the same time collecting real time room occupancy information from the 3rd system which in turn is collecting this information from its physical sensors. This data is then delivered to the first system for presentation. All of this achieved mainly with mouse click configuration thanks to the Cortex integration structures. Quite a spaghetti of interconnectivity between different systems and just(?) a data display example, but of course full control of physical functions is equally possible via the Web API.
Check out all the IDRATEK hardware and software at www.idratek.com.